Saturday, January 28, 2012
26 January 1885- Khartoum
On this day, 127 years ago, Sudan became independent for the first
time as Khartoum was freed from the grip of British and Egyptian
forces after a battle known as the battle of Khartoum.
The liberators were the Mahdist Sudanese army led by Muhammad
Ahmad (Al Mahdi), Sudan's first contemporary leader.
Sudan's history shows that many powerful kingdoms and one of the
oldest civilizations in the world were born in Sudan. Egypt's rival in
Africa, Nubia, was powerful for thousands of years, but it had become
a weak kingdom by the end of the 18th century. So did the kingdom of
Sennar which ruled a large part of Central Sudan and spread into Chad
and other countries.The collapse of powerful kingdoms in Sudan
attracted the Ottomans who invaded Sudan and annexed it into the
Ottoman empire in 1820.
In 1881, the Sudanese rebelled against the Ottoman administration and
Sudan became independent, but the British were eyeing the country at
The British invaded Sudan in 1882, but they didn't govern it until
1899 when they finally defeated the Mahdist forces.
Charles "Chinese" Gordon who was a famous figure in England was
brought over from China to gain control of Sudan. He cited the
founding of an Islamic state at the hands of the Mahdi as a reason for
the need to invest in defeating the Mahdist army.
Gordon believed that he can accomplish this mission, however, the
Mahdi army proved to be strong and sieged the city of Khartoum from
March 1884 to January 1885.
The siege was brutal that it caused the food supply in Khartoum and of
Gordon's garrison to run low. The entire garrison was killed and
Gordon was shot and his head cut-off.
Muhamed Ahmad became the ruler of Sudan , but he died 5 months after
the battle , however, a modern Sudan was born.
In late 1898, in another attack led by Lord Kitchener, the Mahdist
army were defeated in what came to be known as the battle of Omdurman.
The battle of Khartoum became popular as it was chronicled in the 1966
film, Khartoum, and in the novel "Desert and Wilderness" by Polish
Nobel Prize winner Henryk Sienkiewicz.