Abeed or abīd (عبيد, plural of ʿabd, عبد), is an Arabic word meaning "servants" or "slaves". The term is widely used in the Middle East and North Africa by Arabs in reference to black people. This is due to the historical legacy of the Arab Slave Trade, wherein black people from East Africa were bought or captured, enslaved and sold by Arabs.[1]

Usage in Sudan[]

There have been instances of Northern Sudanese using the terms "Abid" or "Abeed" to refer to Southern Sudanese (mostly Dinka and Nuer). In Sudan they're considered the "Slave tribe" because of the Trans-Saharan slave trade. This usage is considered derogatory and has fallen into relative disuse over the years. Southern Sudanese in turn refer to Northerners as "Mundukuru" and "Minga".[further explanation needed][2][3] According to Professor Mahmoud Mamdani however, conflicts in Sudan are not compatible with western pre-conceptions of "race".[4]

Francis Deng described the north–south division imposed by the British on Anglo-Egyptian Sudan as the British saying to the Northerners: "You Northerners are slave traders and you treat the Southerners like Abeed. Don't call them Abeed! They are slaves no longer."[5]

Jok Madut Jok argued that the Sudanese slave trade persists in the 21st century. He claimed that Southern Sudanese who work in Northern Sudan at marginal and petty jobs are regarded as Abeed because of the social standing that is concomitant with such occupations. Dinka[further explanation needed] labourers earning just enough to buy food are treated as the property of landowners and merchants. "Displaced Southerners," Jok states, "are at the bottom of the racial hierarchy in Northern Sudan." He explains that they depend upon patronage and exploitative relationships with power brokers, with relations ranging from servitude through bonded work to serving as attractants for resources from foreign aid agencies. "The lines dividing slavery and cheap labor", he states, "are blurred."[6]

See also[]


  1. ^ https://www.albawaba.com/amp/loop/arabic-speakers-twitter-campaign-make-abeed-new-n-word-1221896
  2. ^ Bixler, Mark (2005). The Lost Boys of Sudan: An American Story of the Refugee Experience. University of Georgia Press. p. 52. ISBN 0-8203-2499-X.
  3. ^ Peter Russell and Storrrs McCall (1973). "Can Secession Be Justified?". In Dunstan M. Wai (ed.). The Southern Sudan: The Problem of National Integration. Routledge. p. 105. ISBN 0-7146-2985-5.
  4. ^ "Analyzing Darfur's Conflict of Definitions: Interview With Professor Mahmood Mamdani". Archived from the original on 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  5. ^ John Obert Voll (1991). Sudan: State and Society in Crisis. Indiana University Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-253-20683-9.
  6. ^ Jok Madut Jok (2001). "The South-North Population Displacement". War and Slavery in Sudan. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 129. ISBN 0-8122-1762-4.