At first glance the newly widened Nile Avenue Road looks like a pleasant place to continue a Friday morning stroll but look again and there is no escaping the signs forbidding pedestrians, rickshaws and horn blowing. A short detour can be made easily enough by turning left at the old Public Works Department, a building whose roof tiles seem ironically to be in a constant state of sliding off.
At the end of this short road, I turn right into one of the most beautiful tree-lined roads in Khartoum, Gami’a Avenue. The first building on the right hand side used to house the NCO’s mess while a little further on there is a barracks that still houses the Republican Guards. Opposite them is an orange cubic building that used to be the Khartoum Club.
More aesthetically pleasing though is the fine sandstone building of the former Anglican Cathedral of All Saints that now serves as the Republican Palace Museum.
Outside is a display, preserved under glass, of various grand Rolls Royce type cars used by visiting dignitaries on state visits. Rather more incongruous is the baptismal font that has been left outside as if it was an unwanted foundling. One wonders why the Episcopalians didn’t take it to their new cathedral in Khartoum Two. Only the foundations of the belfry survive but old photos show it to be a fine building. Apparently there was a concern that someone could sneak up there and take a pot shot at President Nimeiri as he made his way up the sweeping staircase of the fairy tale presidential palace.
It’s well worthwhile going inside the museum to look at the eclectic collection of artifacts and the touching memorial plaques to young men who died in the service of the old Sudan Government. It is said that Bishop Llewellyn Gwynne’s ashes are lodged somewhere in the walls although exactly where is unclear as the memorials to him and General Charles Gordon have been dismantled.
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