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.
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
Kitchener’s last gunboat lies half hidden under some trees on the banks of the Blue Nile in Khartoum. Silent and slowly decaying.
The Melik has served as the headquarters of the Blue Nile Sailing Club since its retirement from military service in the 1920s. It was moored in the river until an unusually heavy flood in the late 1980s left it high and dry. Ironically, the flood may have saved it from slowly rusting away. Continue reading