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Khartoum and the Blue and White Niles,, v2, 1852,
    by George Melly, p. 82-115:


    The next morning we went on board a crazy boat, and, impelled by a strong north wind, soon crossed to the confluence of the two rivers. The White Nile is not whiter than the Blue Nile is blue, yet there is a difference of colour, and the former has the strongest current and twice the breadth of the other. For three-quarters of a mile, the two rivers can be distinctly traced running side by side. We sailed up, or rather down, the Blue Nile, as near Khartoum it takes a considerable bend. About three miles from the point of junction is the town; in the intermediate space are two villages—in one the people are employed in ship-building.

    Khartoum, seen from the river, is a long mud wall, with several houses just peering above it, among which, most conspicuous, is the residence of the Governor, with its offices, the old Government House, and the Catholic Chapel and Mission. We proceeded to the Governor's offices, through a large open ground, in which two companies of troops, the best dressed and accoutred of any I have seen since I left Europe, were changing guard, each company led by a soldier with a bedstead on his bayonet. He being the officer, and the only one allowed such a luxury, the rest always sleeping on the ground. We next arrived at a court, in which were several brass pieces, then entered a large room fitted up with Turkish divans and European chairs. This was "the Divan."

    At one end sat Latiffe Pacha [Abd al-Latif Pasha, c1805—1883], General in the Army, Admiral of the Fleet, and Governor of the Soudan, from Philse to the furthest possessions of the Pacha of Egypt. He looks like a man capable of being all this and more, as he possesses a fine figure, a good face, set off with a remarkably fair complexion, and a beautifully trimmed moustache and beard as black as jet. These advantages were assisted by the handsomest Asiatic dress I have seen—a suit of dark blue cloth, richly embroidered, red and gold tunic waistcoat, and full sleeves of pink silk and gold, silk stockings, a magnificent scarf round his waist, tarboosh, diamond star, and several gold chains.

    On his right hand sat Ali Bey Hassib [Ali Ben Hasib], the Governor of Berber, and a few other grandees sat near him, in full costume.

    His reception of us was very courteous: for a few minutes he spoke to the Governor of Berber; he then gave his entire attention to us, reading our firman [royal mandate], passport, and letters of introduction. The conversation was in Italian, of which he possesses a limited knowledge; we had, however, been told that he was also familiar with English and French. We inquired where it would be agreeable to him that we should pitch our tents; he answered by presenting us with a capital house. On asking where we could find a boat, he replied that his own would be ready for us in three days. On mentioning camels, he promised to have thirty ready to meet us at Berber. At a hint respecting the forwarding of our letters, he volunteered to send them by a special messenger from station to station on swift dromedaries [Arabian camels] to Assouan [Aswan], whence men would run with them on foot to Cairo, and then they would proceed in the usual course. In short, he promised everything we wanted; gave us coffee, and pipes, and then we took our leave.
    There was a considerable crowd of janissaries [household troops], slaves, officers and cavasses [armed and uniformed attendants], below the step, and the usual mob of officials in the hall; but like the birds, their costume is much brighter in these more southern latitudes; blue and yellow, with white coats and trousers, looked much more gay, I thought, than the sober brown and mulberry colour, I had been used to at Cairo. His Excellency's confidential pipe-bearer, a Frenchman, who had been in England with Ibrahim Pacha [Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt, 1789–1848], showed us over the town. He first accompanied us to the house that had been provided for our accommodation: we found it most pleasantly situated among oranges, bananas, and pomegranates, in a garden, on a high bank of the river, next door to the Pacha's hareem [harem]. Then we inspected the diabeheeh—a large three-masted boat, with a small cabin—but, as it was the only vessel here that could boast of a cabin, we were very glad to get it.

    Afterwards we strolled into the bazaar, where we heard the Pacha had gone, and found him sitting inside the raised and railed-in floor of the principal shop, which was filled with Manchester goods. A species of court or "tail" attended his Excellency, entirely blocking up the bazaar; but they readily made way for us, partly from some fearful misgivings about our origin, and partly because a somewhat awful-looking personage, clothed in red jacket and boots, and bearing many pistols, made way for us, in a manner not to be resisted.

    Having assured the Governor that all he had done for us was taib kateer (very good), we proceeded to the head apothecary here, who entertained us most hospitably; one by one came dropping in all the Europeans of Khartoum, which now comprised a very respectable circle of Frenchmen and Italians, who were extremely civil. By the time we returned to the river, the Pacha's boat, manned by ten sailors, was waiting to row us home, where we speedily arrived in great style, making comparisons between the Governor and some great people in England, when a stranger appears amongst them,—very much to the advantage of his Excellency. We had some conversation about hippopotami, which may be met with in the neighbourhood. That very popular specimen, which created such a sensation among the fair sex, last season, in the Regent's Park [in London], was brought up here by hand for six months before it commenced its voyage to England. These animals are at a premium just now, for Mr. Walne, Her Majesty's Consul, has offered £1,000 for two, and many hundred natives are on the look-out. The hippopotamus is extremely wild, is rarely seen except during the night, and is not to be found in great numbers here.

    We were promised prodigious sport, and full of the great thoughts these excited, the next morning we went in the Pacha's boat up the White Nile. We saw crowds of ducks, geese, ibis, pelicans, and plovers, and four white crocodiles basking in the sun.
    On our return we found our things being removed into the house, as the Governor would not hear of our making a residence of the boat, and with the assistance he sent us the place was soon made extremely comfortable. Our house was a good-sized edifice, though constructed of no more durable material than mud. It had been placed in a delightful orange-grove; but the position would have been more admired had it been further off a groaning sakeia [sakia, sakieh, water wheel], which was too close to it to be agreeable. It consists of a hall, entered by an ascent in the shape of a short staircase; this opens into three large chambers having mud divans and unsheltered windows, opening on a refreshing prospect of orange-flowers, pomegranates, and sugarcanes. It was an agreeable contrast to our close tent dwelling in the desert.

    We made acquaintance with all the Europeans, as they came to see us. Among them were the apothecary and the head medical officer, an agreeable and handsome man from the neighbourhood of Geneva. Scarcely had they departed when we received a large basket of figs, bananas, pomegranates, and cream-fruit—the last most delicious to the taste, as might be expected from its name. With it came the following letter:

    My Lord, I hope you will accept a little fruits from the garden of your servants, minister of the Catholic Church, or rather from your garden in this cyty.
Your servants, Emmanuel Pedemonte.
Khartoum, December 28th.

    A few minutes afterwards, came Monsieur R—, a particularly quiet, gentlemanlike Frenchman, the friend and partner of the gentleman whom we met in the desert of Dongola. He has been a great traveller, having twice been up as far as 4° N.L. His description of that part of the country was not very inviting; for, after passing twenty days through unwholesome marshes, he seems to have beheld nothing more interesting than a scorbutic [having scurvy] and scrofulous population. At 10° N.L. the scene improves. The people are six feet high, beautifully formed, and intensely black. Tigers, lions, cameleopards [giraffes], wolves, and hippopotami, besides innumerable smaller animals, are to be met with, with very little difficulty; the difficulty, I am inclined to believe, being sometimes to get out of their way. Tuns of elephants' teeth lie about the desert, where these huge animals die, or are killed by the natives for their flesh.

    Monsieur R— thinks that a most advantageous trade could be established by a society of Europeans, by which the price of gum-arabic, ivory, &c, might be considerably diminished in Europe, and Egypt very much benefited. But Latiffe Pacha is narrow-minded, and being himself the most extensive merchant here, he discourages speculation by putting every obstacle in the way of European adventurers.

    Another visitor followed Monsieur R—; then came a basket of parsley, lettuce, radishes, pomegranates, lemons, and sugarcanes from the apothecary; and finally, the Pacha's head man, with a small quantity of milk, and many apologies for the cows not being more productive.

    The next morning was passed in paying visits to our obliging friends. We first walked through a garden of vines, oranges, pomegranates, and jessamine [jasmine] trees to the house of the apothecary; in an ante-room we met the doctor and one of the ministers of the Catholic Church. We then entered a large divanned room hung with Napoleon pictures, with its curtained windows looking particularly cool and comfortable. We sat round in solemn conclave, our friends in full Turkish costume, while lemonade gazeuse, coffee, and pipes were handed round, conversing of the climate, the rate of mortality, diseases, and other lively matters too numerous to mention. I ascertained that there is a great mortality in children from three to seventeen years. If they survive that age they live to their appointed time; but at thirty-five they look shrivelled and old; notwithstanding which, however, they manage to exist till eighty or ninety, and further south to a hundred.

    We next called on Monsieur R—, in whose yard we saw a young giraffe about nine or ten feet high, and quite tame; and an antelope as large as a donkey, with two horns at least a yard long. Our friend had the best garden in Khartoum, with trellis-covered walks, made of vines, which bear throughout the year. We were received in a large room, with the usual devoirs, and found Monsieur R— transacting business with several native merchants in their white robes, turbans, and scarves. Afterwards came in a very intelligent Turk, handsomely dressed, and wearing a diamond star round his neck, who spoke French fluently. Like Latiffe Pacha, and many others here, he is in honourable banishment, deprived of the society of his wives and family.

    Refreshments having been handed round, our host exhibited his curiosities, such as rhinoceros' horns, hippopotamus' teeth, and the various implements of the natives. I admired a pair of tongs and a javelin, made of iron, with such primitive tools as a stone for a hammer, and a piece of rock for an anvil. Drums, musical horns, bows, spears, arrows, quivers, clubs, and curious iron truncheons, were amongst the collection, with pipes that would hold three pounds of tobacco, and tea-spoons like soup-ladles. He offered us the entire collection, and had already sent one to the Muse"e de Vienne.
All of Sudan is
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    Republic of the Sudan: Military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since independence from Anglo-Egyptian co rule in 1956.

    Sudan was embroiled in two prolonged civil wars during most of the remainder of the 20th century. These conflicts were rooted in northern economic, political, and social domination of largely non-Muslim, non-Arab southern Sudanese. The first civil war ended in 1972 but another broke out in 1983. Peace talks gained momentum in 2002-04 with the signing of several accords.

    The final North/South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in January 2005, granted the southern rebels autonomy for six years followed by a referendum on independence for Southern Sudan. The referendum was held in January 2011 and indicated overwhelming support for independence.

    South Sudan became independent on 9 July 2011. Sudan and South Sudan have yet to fully implement security and economic agreements signed on September 27, 2012 relating to the normalization of relations between the two countries. The final disposition of the contested Abyei region has also to be decided. Since South Sudan's independence, conflict has broken out between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, which has resulted in 1.2 million internally displaced persons or severely affected persons in need of humanitarian assistance.

    A separate conflict, which broke out in the western region of Darfur in 2003, has displaced nearly two million people and caused an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 deaths. Violence in Darfur in 2013 resulted in an additional estimated 6,000 civilians killed and 500,000 displaced. The UN and the African Union have jointly commanded a Darfur peacekeeping operation known as the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) since 2007. Peacekeeping troops have struggled to stabilize the situation and have increasingly become targets for attacks by armed groups.

In 2013, 16 peacekeepers were killed, UNAMID's deadliest year so far. Sudan also has faced refugee influxes from neighboring countries, primarily Ethiopia, Eritrea, Chad, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. Armed conflict, poor transport infrastructure, and government denial of access have impeded the provision of humanitarian assistance to affected populations.
    CIA World Factbook: Sudan


Area of Sudan: 2,505,810 sq km
slightly more than ¼ the size of the US

Population of Sudan: 41,980,182
July 2010 estimate

Languages of Sudan:
Arabic official, Nubian, Ta Bedawie
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    Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic, Sudanic languages
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Sudan Capital: Khartoum


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Egypt and the Sudan: Handbook Baedeker 1914
Uganda to Khartoum Lloyd 1906
With Kitchener to Khartum Steevens 1899
Journals of Major-Gen. Gordon at Kartoum 1885
Travels of an Arab merchant in Soudan al-Tūnisī 1854
Khartoum and the Blue and White Niles Melly 1852

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    We walked round the bazaars, and were mobbed a little by the natives staring at my mother and sister—an unusual outbreak of curiosity on their part. As I was passing a shop crowded on the outside by janissaries and attendants, I was sent for by the Governor of Berber, who very civilly offered to accompany us to Berber, and show us everything worth seeing on the road. After the offer of his house, camels, &c, he promised to visit us in the course of the morning.

    I called on another of our new friends. He has also a large establishment, seventeen slaves, goats, cows, and about five acres of land, which he obtained by buying ten tickets, at a hundred piastres each, in a lottery. He is, however, willing to sell his domain for £60. He was a clerk for fifteen years in Kordofan [Kurdufan], at £70 a-year, with Mr. —, a Parisian merchant, who, he said, never sold British goods under a hundred per cent. profit. He bought an estate for a trifle, at Kordofan, where he also has a large establishment.
    Ali Bey Hassib, the Governor of Berber, paid his promised visit. We entertained him with pipes and coffee, and he kindly took charge of our orders for camels, eggs, water-skins, and other requisites. Like all other high functionaries in these southern latitudes, he is here in honourable exile, with about £1000 a-year. Though his term of banishment is ended, he does not know when he shall be able to return to Cairo.

    On our return from a walk in the bazaar, we found Bayoumi Effendi, a very distinguished man, who was one of the thirty sent to l'Ecole Polytechnique at Paris by Mehemet Ali [Muhammad Ali of Egypt, 1769–1849], and came out seventh in his year. He remained in Paris thirteen years, and has translated two works into Arabic every year for many successive years...

    The schools here are of course a humbug, and the whole thing designed to get rid of the professors, that their pupils might take their places. These are men whose education is very far from completed, and who doubtless interfere less with the acts of the Viceroy. It is the height of absurdity for any one travelling as we did, hurriedly across a country so new to them, to attempt to pass any judgments on its political state; still one can hardly pass over without a word these prisoners—for such, all but in name, they are—who are governors of important towns and provinces in the south of Egypt, or presiding over imaginary schools at Khartoum.

    There seems no doubt that they have made themselves disagreeable to the Pasha, partly perhaps from domineering over him, or offering unasked-for advice, or more probably from being really, or supposed to be, in the pay or in favour of the Porte.

    The encroachments of the Sultan on the Egyptian prerogative are well known, and the reception he has given to such officers or employes of the government at Cairo as have absconded or been seduced to Constantinople [Istanbul], leaves no doubt of his sinister intentions.

    Whatever may be said of Abbas Pasha's [Abbas I of Egypt, 1813–1854 personal character, his government is more favourable to free trade, and more beneficial to his country than that of any preceding ruler; and as long as he follows the advice of his present friends, it is to be hoped that they will uphold the independence of Egypt, now becoming a most important country, and to no portion of the world more so than to England.

    The result of these banishments is, that the provinces are very well governed: Khartoum, Berber, Dongola, Fazokl [Fazogli], &c, being all under the direction of intelligent men, who have travelled much, and been careful observers...

    It is evident that we are considered somebodies in this good town of Khartoum. We have astonished the natives more than can very well be conceived. What they think of us, we cannot exactly ascertain: but it is clear enough that they think a good deal of us. They are a little puzzled when they speculate upon what brought us to their remote corner of the world; and to add to their mystification, they cannot for certain reasons avoid regarding us with a considerable amount of respect mingled with a slight addition of awe. The fact is, it has got abroad that our firman contained denunciations unusually stringent against all, and sundry, who wanted to eat dirt by exhibiting the slightest degree of neglect or remissness in looking after our safety, comfort, and pleasure. Every one argues that such commands from such a source mean something, and the upshot is that we were immediately set down as illustrious strangers of a most illustrious generation.

    Long before our arrival, rumours were in circulation respecting us that increased in extravagance every hour...

    The town consists of about three thousand houses, resembling those already described. Architecture in these regions being in an extremely primitive condition, the arrangement of the streets is just what might be expected from the aspect of the houses. There are no spacious thoroughfares; here and there appears something like a square, or space—but the perspective generally is by no means such as would satisfy the humblest European judgment in the art of building. The better class of houses are possessed either by the government officials, or by the European residents. In some there are approaches to luxury, in others to comfort; indeed, it is but fair to acknowledge that with the addition of delightful gardens, and a pleasant climate, it is not difficult to reconcile oneself to a residence within mud walls.

    The inhabitants are thirty thousand in number, including the military—they are divided into Mahometans, Christians, and Jews; the former are an immense majority of the population, and worship in their mosques—they are particularly unenlightened, and their priests are not much better. The latter number about fifty. They comprise the entire community attached to the Roman Catholic missions, possess three priests, have a chapel for the performance of religious worship, as well as a school for the preparation of converts, and the instruction of the rising generation of their coreligionists. The Jews are about a dozen. The members of the three religions live together very amicably—the followers of the Prophet looking upon the supporters of the Pope with supreme indifference, and the professors of Christianity regarding the worshippers of the Koran [Qur%27an] with profound pity. The Jews, of course, abominating both. Sometimes one of those accidents that are said to happen in the best regulated families, varies this state of harmony with a little bigotry— and "the dogs of Christians," and "the beasts of Jews," are made to suffer as much persecution as may be thought good for them—and "the miserable Infidels" fall prodigiously in Christian and Jewish opinion. All parties are taxed with very little partiality; and the government is equally indifferent to their interests.

    Much activity prevails in the neighbourhood in boat-building; the vessels constructed being chiefly long, open boats for navigating the Nile. They are usually built of palm-wood, but are very clumsy contrivances.

    The principal portion of their trade consists in the produce of their gardens and fields, which are extremely productive. The bazaars consist of four covered and four uncovered streets; the former are the finest shops, and are filled with articles of merchandize of very various character, among which figure Manchester prints, Sheffield knives and scissors on cards, and Staffordshire potteries: the uncovered streets are mostly booths, in which are sold senna, lichens, and various herbs and grasses. The merchants here export gum-arabic, galls, senna, castor-oil, and large quantities of ivory on camels to Kerosko, after conveying them down the Nile to Berber.

    A much greater trade might be carried on with English goods than has yet been attempted; but this should be extended as far into the interior as possible, that we might profit by the immense stores of ivory, and other valuable commodities, that are so easily procurable. I have had another conversation with Monsieur R— on this subject. He is for colonizing the White River at latitude 4°, stating that the people there have already learnt to distinguish between the European and the Government expeditions. A steamer of ten or fifteen horse-power, flat-bottomed, would do admirably to tow up the diabeheehs. According to his account, monkeys swarm in the trees at ten hours' journey from here; at three days' journey the traveller meets with flocks of guinea-fowls; and elephants, tigers, and lions in eight days.

    The lower class of people content themselves with one wife, who usually rewards her faithful spouse with many children. The higher class are not so easily satisfied; and the grandees indulge in the permitted number of four.

    The most unpleasant part of the year is the rainy season; and so heavy is the fall, that the streets are impassable. This comes on, too, so suddenly, that should any one call upon another a little before the commencement of the showers, he must remain at his friend's house for three or four days, till the waters subside. No one attempts to quit his dwelling during the rains; and the town, therefore, must possess much the appearance of having only just emerged from the Deluge.

    Superstitious practices and prejudices are general. All Wednesdays are considered unfortunate, particularly the last Wednesday in the month: but the last Wednesday in the year is still more unfortunate, as on that day Moses made the waters blood. So the day previously, every one provides water for two days, as no one thinks of going to the river till after Asser—three o'clock in the afternoon. The Pacha is not free from these superstitions; and Riffa Bey, who has enjoyed the advantages of a Persian, as well as a Parisian education, and is thoroughly versed in magical lore, has daily to explain his Excellency's dreams.

    The military force here consists of ten thousand infantry, and two thousand cavalry. In the yard of the Governor's house, I noticed several pieces of brass cannon, four to ten pounders; he has also some howitzers and bombs. There are in the Soudan, twenty thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry, with thirty-six pieces of artillery, under the command of Latiffe Pacha, who is a general officer. Indeed, every one in the civil, as well as in the military service, possesses military rank. The doctor is a commander one grade below a lieutenant-colonel. Ali Bey Hassib is a full colonel; and this is so much a matter of course, that we are continually questioned as to our standing in our own army. The answer that had previously settled our superiority to the whole race of Pachas, always sufficed. Our independence of superior authority gave us very high military rank, indeed.

The New York Times, May 17, 1896, p.9:

SLANDERS ON THE CAMEL

A Rash Britisher Criticises Peculiarities He Does Not Understand.

    A correspondent of the London News, writing from the Soudan, says:

    The camel, be it at once said, is and overrated beast. There is a great deal of him, but he is not for his size nearly so strong as the useful unpretentious donkey. Then, too, his anatomy is so strangely conceived. His legs are attached to his great unwieldly carcass with seemingly little consideration for the uses to which (merely viewed as legs) he might be expected to put them. And his neck and tail are so obviously disproportionate to the rest of him, and both so useless, that one cannot avoid the thought that the camel is somehow incomplete, that he was finished off in a hurry, or, owing to some mistake, was never finished off at all.
    Even the qualities he possesses tend to strengthen one in this bewildering suspicion. For instance, he can kick himself violently in the—let us say—front of the back with his fore leg. He does it constantly.

    Time and again have I devoted long hours (fruitlessly, I must admit,) to an attempt to win the confidence of my favorite camel—my favorite, because the is less cruel to me than the others. I have wooed him with the soft notes of my kourbash, I have tempted him with the thorniest of mimosa branches, I have puffed tobacco smoke into his supercilious nostrils, and then, just as I have fancied I saw the light of sympathy dawning in his long lashed eye he has risen all of one movement to his feet, grinned at me in a frightful manner, disclosing a forest of green and broken teeth, and gazing at me full, with more vindictive contempt than I have ever marked in any human eye, has kicked himself violently in the stomach and lain down again, as one who should say, "Now go away and don't bother, like a good boy."
    Then he can gnaw his own tail—his absurd, useless little rag of a tail that isn't even worth biting. But is that an object worth living for?
    He has, to be sure, seven stomachs, of which, vain beast, he is so inordinately proud (as though he had anything to do with it) that he is constantly fetching up one of them to show to you, and blows it out from his great ugly throat in a horrid glittering transparent bulb for you to admire. A more nauseating practice could hardly be conceived, but the low brute will do it.

    One accomplishment, indeed, I can give him credit for. He can flick a fly from the top of his head with his hind toe. Now, this in the age we live in might, were he a luckier beast and the rest of his bulk conducive, have served him in good stead. But as things are I fear he will make nothing of it. His shape is fatally against him, and he will never become fashionable as a step dancer.

    But with all his faults, defects, and disabilities, the camel has, so far as this country is concerned, not yet been superseded by any more practical invention, and, despite the fact that his temper is bad, his appetite vast and sordid, his capacity for prolonged existence without water a giddy fiction, his carrying capabilities mean, and his locomotive powers exasperatingly meagre, yet he is all we have, and on him must we largely depend throughout this Dongala expedition.

    Dr. Conan Doyle [Arthur Conan Doyle, 1859–1930], who is one of our party, believes, after a week or so of acquaintance with the camel, that he has discovered in his mount great delicacy of sentiment and much dignity of demeanor. But, then, Dr. Conan Doyle is a man of so wide a charity that he actually believes in and even admires—well, no, I will not say who it is. Let every one guess for himself. But if that person, why not the camel? Why not, indeed?
    Perhaps I may have some day something pleasant to say about my camels. Time must decide. Is it a long-lived beast, I wonder?

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