'What the men are crying out for is leadership': the Khartoum Police strike of 1951 and the battle for administrative control

W J Berridge

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle


The British administrative elite in Sudan represented the Khartoum Police Strike of 1951 as a ‘mutiny’, the result of a combination of both outside provocation and of the character failings of both Sudanese policemen and their British officers. This article will demonstrate that these convenient interpretations concealed a series of wider tensions within the colonial state itself, between modernising legal professionals and colonial administrators who cherished their personal control over the police. These tensions dictated debates about the status of the police in the build up to the strike, and the manner in which the heavily politicised enquiry into it was conducted. The Sudan Political Service employed an ‘otherisation’ of Sudanese culture to argue that the country was unsuited for a modern system of policing. Meanwhile, Sudanese policemen and other nationalists attempted to seize from the British the values of ‘civil’ policing that the colonisers preached but rarely practised. Nevertheless, in spite of the identification of the police strikers with other branches of the nationalist and labour movement, their own association with the government ensured that support for the strike was only limited
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)121-142
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011


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