Region and administrative province of Sudan.
Kordofan (Kurdufan) is bounded by the White Nile on the east, Darfur in the west, the Bahr al-Arab River in the south, and desert in the north. In the southeast corner of the plain the Nuba Mountains (2,000–4,000 feet; 610–1220 meters) rise dramatically from the surrounding plain inhabited by the Nuba people (unrelated to the Nubians of the Nile Valley in northern Sudan). The Nuba are farmers who have crafted complex terraces on their hillsides and cultivated fields on the plains below. Known for their complex body decoration, musical performance, and wrestling (which is an obsessive pastime), each hill community has its own culture. They speak more than a dozen Kordofanian languages and the Arabic of the Baggara Arabs, with whom they have an historic and hostile relationship. The Baggara are cattle-owning nomads who roam widely over the plains surrounding the Nuba Mountains. They were the first and most fervent followers (al-Ansar) of Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi and remain firm supporters of the Mahdi's great-grandson, the leader of the Umma Party, Sadiq al-Mahdi. Since the 1980s the Baggara Arabs, supported by the Sudanese government, have seized the opportunity presented by the civil war to drive the insurgent Nuba from the plains and destroy their sanctuaries in the hills in the name of Islam. This has aroused the concern and intervention of the international community, which aims to preserve the Nuba and their culture.
Stiansen, Endre, and Kevane, Michael, eds. Kordofan Invaded: Peripheral Incorporation and Social Transformation in Islam Africa. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1998.
robert o. collins