Victoria Avenue, Khartoum

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This picture postcard shows Gordon’s statue in front of the Governor’s Palace at the end of Victoria Avenue. Much of course has changed. Gordon’s statue has been replaced by the monument to national unity that Nimeiri erected in the wake of the Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972.

The public gardens on either side of the road are still there but have been fenced off and can sometimes look rather overgrown and forlorn. The palm trees have long gone. Continue reading

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Streets of Khartoum

Taking a stroll around central Khartoum is best done early on Friday mornings when the streets are largely deserted of traffic. This is the best time to appreciate a city that is beautiful despite some awful architecture.

Khartoum was the creation of the Anglo-Egyptian Administration who found it in ruins when they arrived with their conquering army in 1898. It has been said by some that Kitchener chose the original road layout so that it resembled the Union Jack of the British flag. Another possible reason is that the design allowed maxim guns to be placed at junctions that covered several streets simultaneously. This would suggest that new rulers didn’t feel entirely at ease, but it seems doubtful that Kitchener had such concerns following the final routing of Mahdist forces in Kordofan in 1899. It is more likely that the pattern simply aided quick movement around the new city, and its effectiveness is one reason why this gridiron pattern has partly survived until now.   Continue reading