Friday, 14 September 2012

14th September – trip to Khalifa’s house and the Mahdi’s tomb

Today, Omar came to take me to visit some interesting historical sites.  We drove to Omdurman, stopping briefly to see a British gunship which was dredged up from the Nile a few years ago.  It is in remarkably good condition.  There is a backdrop of reconstructed mud bunkers and huts to give an idea of the Mahdist defences. 
Gun boat
The Mahdi was an Islamic leader who is considered the first African opponent of colonisation.  He defeated Gordon but died soon afterwards.  I did not enter the tomb, which is considered a very important Islamic site.  We then visited the house of his successor, Khalifa Abdullah, which is just across the road.  It is a lovely house with beautiful woodworked ceilings.  The Khalifa lived and governed from this house.  General Kitchener was sent to avenge Gordon’s death.   There is a collection of Mahdist armaments, which show clearly how easily Kitchener must have defeated them.  According to my guidebook, British losses were 48 with 434 wounded.  By contrast the Mahdist army lost 10,000 men.  According to Churchill, who served in the Battle of Omdurman, the Mahdist army looked as though they had stepped straight off the Bayeau Tapestry, with their spears and patched tunics.
Afterwards, we went to a lovely fish restaurant for lunch and had beautifully fresh deep-fried Nile fish with salad and bread.  There was far too much, so I had enough fish and bread for my next meal.  This proved to be just as well: soon after I arrived back at the flat I had a message from Becca, the SVP coordinator, to say that we should all stay at home and avoid going out if possible as there were serious demonstrations at the British, German and American Embassies due to some fool putting up an inflammatory anti-Islamic video on YouTube.
Since I last wrote, I have been told that I will be leaving for Ed Damer on Monday following a meeting at the Ministry of Education which will take place on Sunday.

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