The elegant building shown in these pictures lies in the centre of Khartoum and was once the residence of Sayyid ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi, the son of al-Mahdi. As the founder of the modern Ansar movement and a prominent nationalist figure in the formation of an independent Sudan, he is perhaps the most important political figure in the country’s twentieth century’s history. He died in 1959 and for some years the building was used as the National Record Office (national archives).
My photographs were taken in the early 2000’s. Unfortunately, a few years ago the building was half demolished and then left in a ruined state. Land prices in the centre of Khartoum are very high and exert pressure on development, but town planning should surely be balanced with keeping representative examples of buildings from the past. It was a great shame that this palatial building dating from 1918, with its beautiful garden and historical connections, should have been damaged in this way.
Easter Garden at Unity High School, Khartoum (photo by Muna Zaki)
Flicking through some photos taken during the last year, I came upon one of an Easter Garden at Unity High School , Khartoum.
Unusually, many Christian denominations were celebrating Holy Week at the same time. My contribution was to make this Easter garden.
It is true the Lord is risen. – Luke 24:34
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14,
From the balcony of my apartment in Khartoum North I enjoy a great panoramic view of central Khartoum. On the opposite bank in startling whiteness is the presidential palace built on the ruins of General Charles Gordon’s last stand. Encircling and dwarfing the palace are the glassed high-rise towers of a modern city that is rapidly shedding the faded appearance of its colonial past. Continue reading
I knew straight away that I wasn’t going to see the lions eat. They lay drowsily within their cage at the zoo in Khartoum North as the zookeeper carefully placed his hand inside the cage and rubbed the neck of the lioness. A sure way to lose your fingers or hand I thought. But no it wasn’t dangerous he explained because this lioness had been tamed through her years of human contact.
Rather you than me I thought…
Keeping lions in the Sudan goes back a long way. ‘Abd al-Rahman al Rashid (Sultan of Darfur, 1787-1803) kept a pair of lions that were apparently so tame that they could be led into the market at El Fasher to feed on the offal from the butchers’ stalls.
Alas the winter is coming to an end here in the Khartoum. The bright sunny mornings with a nip in the air will soon depart as February gives way to March. All too soon the blinding heat of the Sudanese summer will arrive in April. After that a fierce sun will beat down relentlessly all day and every day scorching the sandy streets and burning the flat zinc roofs. Relief from the stifling heat only then comes in August with the sudden violent thunderstorms that pierce the night’s sky and send a torrent of water to miraculously green the savannah once again.
Before leaving the grounds of the Republican Palace Museum, I cast my eyes for a moment on the immense structure of the new Presidential Palace with its imposing arched entrance and domed roof. A little further up the road is Nimeiri’s monument to national unity and the Shuhuda gardens – a square with some sad memories. Continue reading
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. Continue reading