Thursday, 25 February 2010

Treasures in the Library: The University of Khartoum Development Studies and Research Centre Monograph Series

The other day, I went along to the University of Khartoum to track down a professor but he was not in his office. Malesh. Instead I went to the Anthropology library where I found treasures hidden on the bottom shelf- U. of K. papers from the 1970s and 1980s. Some of them were really great- one paper on social mobility! With much excitement, I asked the librarian where they came from. She told me they had all the Red Sea Area papers in a special room but the others had been printed by the Economics Department. So I went along to the Economics library (I love how all the departments in the University of Khartoum have their own libraries).

Here another librarian took one look at them, scratched his head and then began to search a storage closet. It was a very exciting (and dusty) afternoon for us both. We found (almost) the complete series after searching and climbing and searching some more. He let me take them away to make photocopies and I promised to type out the names and give him a copy. 

After spending about half an hour typing in the endless stream of names, I thought I would post them online just in case they are interesting to anyone else. 

If you would like to read a copy and you are in Khartoum, go to the Economics library and ask for Faisal Al Tayb Eissa Youssif. He will help you find them and probably make you a cup of tea in the process. If you are not in Khartoum but are my friend (or potential friend and live somewhere close to Edinburgh), I can try and photocopy them for you. One day, in the far off future, when I return to Sudan with a digital sender, I will digitize such treasures.

If you want to look at the Red Sea Area collection, then go to the Anthropology library and ask for Jowahir Mubarak. I am not sure if she will make you tea, but she is also very friendly. 

This whole episode has made me realize how vibrant and wonderful the research community of University of Khartoum was in those days. I really wish it could be returned to its former glory... with a little human will and a little bit of funding! 

Nevertheless these papers should not be forgotten...  Here they are (some of them are missing):

Development Studies and Research Centre. Faculty of Economic and Social Studies, University of Khartoum. Monograph Series.

1. The Five Year Plan (1970-75): Some Aspects of the Plan and Its Performance. 1977. Sayed Nimeri. 

2. Vocational Training and Economic Development in the Sudan. 1977. Ahmed H. El Jack and Abdel Rahman E. Ali Taha. 

3. Educational Policy and the Employment Problem in the Sudan. 1977. M. O. Beshir. 

4. Development Budgeting in the Sudan. 1977. B. A. Azhar.

5. The Estimation of Human Population by the Capture-Recapture Method. 1977. A.E. El Goul. 

6. How to Survive Development: the Story of New Halfa. 1977. Gunnar M. Sorbo.

7. An Evaluation of the Six Year Development Plan of the Sudan (1977/78- 1982/83). 1978. Sayed Nimeri. 

8. The Problem of Desterification in the Republic of the Sudan With Special Reference to Northern Darfur Province. 1978. Dr. Fouad N. Ibrahim. 

9. Sudanese Labour Mobility: A Statistical Investigation. 1978. Z.A. Beshir and Siddiq M. Ahmed. 

10. Local Government and Local Participation in Rural Development in the Sudan. 1978. Salih Abdalla El-Arifi. 

11. Urbanization and Exploitation: The Role of Small Centres. 1979. Abdel Ghaffar M. Ahmed and Mustafa Abdel Rahman. 

12. Patterns of Family Living: The Case Study of Two Villages on the Rahad River. 1979. Ellen Gruenbaum. 

13. A Bibliography of West African Settlement and Development in the Sudan. 1980. Ahmad Abd al-Rahim Nasr and Mark Duffield. 


15. A Consumption Function For the Sudan. 1983. Ahmed Al Sheikh.

16. Origins of the Underdevelopment of the Southern Sudan: British Administrative Neglect. 1983. Raphael Koba Badal. 

17. Import Policy in Sudan 1966-1976. 1984. Siddiq Umbadda.

18. Monetisation, Financial Intermediation and Self-Financed Growth in the Sudan (1960/1- 1979/80). 1984. Mekki El Shibly.

19. Towards an Appraisal of Tractorisation Experience in Rainlands of Sudan. 1984. Khalid Affan. 

20. The Evolution and Transformation of the Sudanese Economy Up to 1950. 1984. Elfatih Shaaeldin.

21. Towards an Understanding of Islamic Banking: The Case of Faisal Islamic Bank 1985. Elfatih Shaaeldin and Richard Brown.

22. The Labour Force in Sudanese Agriculture. 1984. Abdel Sadiq Ahmed El Bashir. 

23. A Modelling Approach to Forecasting. A Critique of Some Essential Aspects of the Sudanese Six-Year Plan. 1985. Ahmed Elsheikh M. Ahmed and Beshir Omer M. Fadlalla. 

24. Some Aspects of Sudanese Migration to the Oil-Producing Countries During the 1970's. 1985. Mohd. El Awad Galaeldin.

25. The State of Women Studies in the Sudan. 1985. El-Wathiq Kamier, Zeinab El-Bakri, Idris Salim and Samiya El-Nagar.

26. Proposal for a Nile Water Treaty. 1986. Omer Mohamed Ali Mohamed. 

27. Structural Analysis For the Production Function of the Sudan Economy. 1986. Ahmed Elsheikh M. Ahmed. 

28. البراهين على الطبيعة التصاعدية الجميع انواع الزكاة 1987. أحمد صفي الدين عوض


30. Economic Development Urbanization and Induced Migration. 1987. Mohamed Abdelhameed Ibnoaf. 



33. Resource Allocation Under the Joint Account and the Land-Water Charge Systems: Is There a Case for Abandonning the Joint Account? 1989. Samir Taha Saleem.

34. Female Participation in Trade: The Case of Sudan. 1989. Alawiya Osman Mohamed Salih. 

35. The Kordofan Region of the Sudan, 1980-1985. A Case Study of the Problems of Regionalism. 1989. Kamal Osman Salih.

36. Tradition and Modernization in Sudanese Irrigated Agriculture: Lessons From Experience. 1989. Sharif El-Dishouni. 

37. Economic Expansion Domestic Distribution and North-South Trade. 1991. Hatim A. Mahran.

38. The Institutionalization of Capital Accumulation and Economic Development in the Sudan. 1991. Medani Mohamed Ahmed.



Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Patience pays off... but sometimes the dividends are monkeys

Research is sometimes a matter of endurance and patience, especially when conducted under the Sudanese sun. But at the end of it all, there is reward. 

A couple weeks ago I turned up to an interview and found that the manager had double-booked me . In order to placate the look in my eye, his secretary gave me extremely strong tea and told me to come back in a couple days. Instead I asked if I could get some information about the organization to better prepare myself for the interview and accordingly, I was directed to another floor. 

Here, I was given some more tea and then told to wait while a man fetched some books. I sighed and resigned myself to the sugary mix. If research is sometimes a matter of endurance, then in Sudan this endurance is represented by tea. How much tea can you consume in a single day? How much tea can you consume when you have already consumed four cups before lunch and feel like your eyes have been hooked up to a ECG and need a medical consent form in order to be blinked? 

I look into the cup, wondering how expensive a stomach transplant is in Sudan, but etiquette dictates endurance and so I bring the cup to my lips.

While I am waiting and plotting the logistics of pouring the tea into the potted plant on the desk, an old man comes into the office. He has a smile on his face that would lift a beached whale and a little twinkle in his eye that says "I don't give a damn". 

I wonder.

He sits down in a chair, put his hands above his head and tells me he's going to tell me "what's really going on in here". What follows is nothing but the most honest and deep internal description of the workings of an organization that I have ever heard. He has a happy growl of a voice, the kind of voice you would expect a sheepdog to have if you were lucky enough to catch him in a monologue. 

Is this fate? One interview postponed so you can have another with a sage-like shepherd?

This morning I had a similar experience. I was supposed to have a meeting at 10 am. I had been told to come to a specific bank on the other side of town. The company's office was right next door... or so they told me on the phone. 

On the way over, I called up the secretary to check but she was not there. I asked the man on the phone if he could give directions to the driver but it turns out that this man was both the most confused and the most confusing man on the planet. The taxi driver hung up midway through the conversation declaring "This man is crazy! He probably just wandered in and picked up the phone! He is an idiot!" I decided to call the manager directly. He reassured me that the company was right next door to the bank. "JUST come to the bank" He said. So I did. 

I got out of the taxi, paid my fare and then proceeded to wander around like an idiot in the sun looking for the company's sign. I couldn't find a single sign that didn't involve the words "Pepsi" or "Zain". The advertising seemed to loom like the sun. And I became thirsty. 

I called up the secretary's line again. I didn't want the manager to think I was a complete idiot. This time, the simultaneously confused/confusing man had been replaced by a stern woman who was, unfortunately, equally confusing. She told me that I was in completely the wrong place and I should get into another taxi. Confused, I handed the phone to a new taxi driver and after a very long winded explanation, the man hung up and said:

Ten pounds.

Excuse me? Ten pounds? The man said it was right here!

It is far, far, far, far away! 

Then the driver added, 

Ten pounds.

I decided I did not trust this man. The manager had said that I should come to this bank and even if all his secretaries seemed to doubt their location in the universe, I was going to trust the boss. It was his company, surely he knew where he was sitting. I started to wander in the direction that the woman had described on the phone, all the while trying the number again- but now no-one was picking up.

Downtown Khartoum is probably the hottest place I have ever been. It is not just the sun and the lack of shade, but the noise and bustle of the traffic and the dust that wafts every time a bus screams past. I looked at my watch. 10:35. I was hot. I was angry. I was so utterly confused. Had I entered some fantastical research universe in which people contradict themselves and send you on wild-goose chases for kicks? Why had three different secretaries told me completely opposite directions? Why had the manager told me to come one place while the taxi driver seemed to want to take me to Kassala or some other far flung spot? I took a deep breath, ducked into an abandoned building site and called the manager one last time. 

This time- low and behold, Ilhamdulilah, praise be to the single cloud in the sky- the original secretary picked up the phone.

Laura? Her voice was like a cool breeze, Come to the bank and I will find you.

I have no idea what was going on. When I think about it in my head, I feel like there must be some plausible explanation. Were they just messing with me? Was their phone line split between two companies on opposite sides of town? Or am I just a little bit mad? When I entered the building, I looked into the faces of the other secretaries and wondered which ones had spoken to me. Which ones needed to acquaint themselves with reality. 

Or was it me that had lost the plot?

I cooled off. Literally.

The nice (sane) secretary gave me water- ice cold water that swept away the heat from my brow and then a nice man came in with a tray of tea, peanuts and dates. Peanuts? It was as if my stomach had perused the menu and made an order... and at 11:00 when I was sufficiently cooled and well fed, I finally had my interview-- which went really well. Thank you kind souls!

Now I sit in a nearby park. I have my notebook out, my list of possible interviewees on my lap, my phone pressed against my ear. But someone is watching me. 

A monkey. She sits up above in a tree, a baby monkey strapped to her back. They are both giving me the eye. I wonder if they can smell the peanuts on my breath. 

And it suddenly dawns on me, I am a lucky girl. This is research in Sudan and I am going to miss it when it's over.