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Historian Mekki Shibeika, A Dedicated Academic

Historian Mekki Shibeika, A Dedicated Academic

By: Yahya Hassan

 

KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - He outmatched his contemporaries; being the first Sudanese to obtain a doctorate degree in history and the first Sudanese to obtain a professorship in this domain. Because of his discretion and his good performance as a school boy, the school tasked him to teach his fellow students when the history teacher failed to return from his leave because of illness. 

In addition, Prof. Mekki Shibeika had spearheaded generations of Sudanese researchers to re-write the history of the Sudan after the subject was a free hunting ground for foreign writers. 

Prof. Mekki Altayeb Shibeika was born in 1905 in the town of Alkamleen, some 50 miles South of Khartoum. Finishing his primary education at his hometown, he moved to Khartoum to join the intermediate level of the Gordon Memorial College (GMC). The GMC was launched by the Britons in commemoration of Sudan’s British Governor-General Charles Gordon who was killed by the Mahdist rebels in 1885. 

The College had two sections: Intermediate and secondary. As a Fourth Grade student at the College’s second level (secondary level) Mekki Shibeika was tasked to teach history to his peers because their Lebanese teacher of history Baroodi Effendi had fallen ill during his vacation in Beirut and could not report to his work place on time. He continued with his studies and at the same time kept teaching in the College at Scale Seven for an annual salary of 96 Egyptian pounds. Five months later and upon graduation he was permanently employed as an intermediate school teacher. He served in Khartoum, Omdurman and Berber intermediate schools. In August 1930 he was sent to the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, where he obtained a B.A degree of arts, majoring in history. 

Upon his return from Beirut in October 1935, he was appointed deputy intermediate school headmaster at scale G.H.1, and was seconded to the Gordon Memorial College under a “history specialist” job title. His performance report at the College was that: He is one of the best teachers of the Ministry of Education and, thus, deserves to work at the high schools. He has a natural inclination towards research and is beloved by his students and fellow teachers. 

Some of Shibeika's books

In 1941 he was promoted to the rank of ‘Lecturer of History and Education’ at the Higher School of Arts. In 1942 he obtained a two-year scholarship from the British Council to prepare for a doctorate degree in the philosophy of history at Bedford College, London University. By that Mekki Shibeika is seen as the first Sudanese to obtain a doctorate degree in history. His PhD thesis (written and published in English) was entitled: Sudan under the Mahdist Revolution. 

Historian, Professor Mohammad Ibrahim Abusaleem, asserts that perhaps Mekki Shibeika could have been the first to obtain a doctorate degree in the Sudan. In 1951 Mekki Shibeika was promoted to the scale of associate professor and in 1955 he was awarded the title of professorship. After that he became the Dean Faculty of Arts, University of Khartoum, as the first Sudanese to occupy this job. In 1959 Mekki Shibeika, for one reason or another, chose to go on pension. He travelled to Almanagil district (central Sudan) and started a farming career on a plot of land he inherited from his father. In August 1962 he returned to the University of Khartoum as Dean Faculty of Arts and supervisor of post graduate studies. In 1969 he joined the University of Kuwait as a professor of history. This assignment had allowed him the opportunity to tackle the history of the Arabian Peninsula and the Arab Gulf, depending on British archives and documents. In 1974 he returned to the Sudan where the University of Khartoum employed him as fellow professor. His mission at the University came to an end in September 1977. 

Prof. Mekki Shibeika died in January 1980, leaving behind a wealth of academic research in the history of the Sudan and the region.

 

Some of his published (and publicized) works include:

-Alsudan Fi Qarn (Sudan in a Century) that covers the history of the Sudan from 1819 to 1919.

-Alsiyasa Albritaniyya Fi Alsudan (The British Policy in the Sudan) that accounts for Sudan history from 1882 to1902, published in English.

-Alsudan Almustaqil (The Independent Sudan). This book was written in English.

-Alsudan Abr Alquroon (Sudan Across Centuries). This book narrates the history of Sudan from the old times down to 1939, giving accounts about the Sudanese kingdoms and sultanates and their relations with neighboring countries and kingdoms in each historical epoch. In the book’s introduction Mekki Shibeika wrote: In the first section of the book that explained the old history of Sudan down to the Christian age, I depended on the book: A History of the Sudan: From the Earliest Times to 1821, by Anthony John Arkell. I also consulted research papers and lecture notes written by the students of the Faculty of Arts (University of Khartoum).

-Tareekh Shuo’ob Wadi Alneel (History of the Peoples of the Nile Valley (Egypt and Sudan). This book accounts for the ups and downs of the relationship between Sudan and Egypt from the old ages down to modern times.

-Alkhartoum Bayna Almahdi Wa Gordon (Sudan Between the Mahdi and Gordon). This is an account of the siege of Khartoum (and before) that culminated in the eventual downfall of Khartoum (and the Sudan at large) in the hands of the Mahdi’s rebels in 1885 and the eviction of the Turko-Egyptian forces from the country. It also accounts for the relation between the two foes Mohammad Ahmed Almahdi and the then General Governor of Sudan, British General Charles Gordon.

-Mamlakat Alfunj Al- Islamiyya (The Islamic Funj Kingdom). This book is a chronicle of the Funj Sultanate of Central Sudan of the post medieval ages, how it rose, how it fell down and the cultural and political renaissance it engendered.

-Alsudan wa Althawra Almahdia (Sudan and the Mahdist Revolution). This book is a documentation of the Mahdi’s revolution that liberated the Sudan from the Turko-Egyptian rule in 1885.

-Britania Walthawra Almasriyya (Britain and the Egyptian Revolution). This is a chronicle of the Egyptian revolt of 1919, led by Egyptian Ahmed Urabi against the British domination of his country.

 

Mekki Shibeika was an active figure in the political movement that saw the Sudan obtain its independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956. He was an active member of the United Unionist Party that formed the first government at the independence of the Sudan.

 

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