In Darfur

In Darfur

An Account of the Sultanate and Its People, Volume One

320 Pages

May 2018

ISBN: 9781479876389

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$40.00

Hardcover

Authors

Muḥammad al-Tūnisī (d. 1274/1857) belonged to a family of Tunisian merchants who traded with Egypt and what is now Sudan. Raised in Cairo, al-Tūnisī spent ten years traveling through the Darfur Sultanate. On his return to Egypt, he played an important part in Muhammad Ali’s modernization project, supervising the translation of veterinary and medical texts and editing the first printed editions of classical Arabic texts.

Humphrey Davies is an award-winning translator of some twenty-five works of modern Arabic literature, among them Alaa Al-Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building, five novels by Elias Khoury, including Gate of the Sun, and Aḥmad Fāris al-Shidyāq’s Leg over Leg. He has also made a critical edition, translation, and lexicon of the Ottoman-period Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abū Shādūf Expounded by Yūsuf al-Shirbīnī, as well as editions and translations of al-Tūnisī’s In Darfur and al-Sanhūrī’s Risible Rhymes from the same era. In addition, he has compiled with Madiha Doss an anthology in Arabic entitled Al-ʿāmmiyyah al-miṣriyyah al-maktūbah: mukhtārāt min 1400 ilā 2009 (Egyptian Colloquial Writing: selections from 1400 to 2009) and co-authored, with Lesley Lababidi, A Field Guide to the Street Names of Central Cairo. He read Arabic at the University of Cambridge, received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, and previous to undertaking his first translation in 2003, worked for social development and research organizations in Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, and Sudan. He is affiliated with the American University in Cairo.

R. S. O'Fahey is Professor Emeritus of History in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History, University of Bergen, Norway.

A merchant’s account of his travels through an independent African state

Muhammad ibn 'Umar al-Tunisi (d. 1274/1857) belonged to a family of Tunisian merchants trading with Egypt and what is now Sudan. Al-Tunisi was raised in Cairo and a graduate of al-Azhar. In 1803, at the age of fourteen, al-Tunisi set off for the Sultanate of Darfur, where his father had decamped ten years earlier. He followed the Forty Days Road, was reunited with his father, and eventually took over the management of the considerable estates granted to his father by the sultan of Darfur. In Darfur is al-Tunisi’s remarkable account of his ten-year sojourn in this independent state.

In Volume One, al-Tunisi relates the history of his much-traveled family, his journey from Egypt to Darfur, and the reign of the noted sultan 'Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid. In Darfur combines literature, history, ethnography, linguistics, and travel adventure, and most unusually for its time, includes fifty-two illustrations, all drawn by the author.

In Darfur is a rare example of an Arab description of Africa on the eve of Western colonization and vividly evokes a world in which travel was untrammeled by bureaucracy, borders were fluid, and startling coincidences appear almost mundane.

A bilingual Arabic-English edition.

Reviews

  • "In Darfur offers an interesting glimpse of a (still) neglected part of Africa, and a surprising wealth of information."

    The Complete Review