This essay examines the role of organized labor in Sudanese politics in the twentieth century. The essay focuses on the development of labor activism among the Sudanese railway workers who were concentrated in the town of Atbara, headquarters of the Sudan Railways, and it chronicles their struggle against the colonial and postcolonial governments in the Sudan. For more than half a century, the railway workers of Atbara formed the core of the Sudanese working class and became one of the most dynamic and militant labor movements in Africa and the Middle East. One of the most important characteristics of the Sudanese labor movement was its close link with the Sudanese Communist Party, the second largest Communist Party in Africa until its near-destruction by the military regime of Gafaar Nimeiri in 1971. Despite persistent repression by authoritarian regimes, the Sudanese labor movement played a vital role in the struggle for democracy and social change. It contributed to the overthrow of two military regimes: that of Ibrahim Abboud in 1964 and of Nimeiri in 1985.

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