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Ten Years' Captivity in the Mahdi's Camp 1882-1892

000 of them deserted from Omdurman


After

conquering Sultan Yusef, of Darfur, the Khalifa ordered Osman Wad Adam to gather his own countrymen--the Taisha--nearer Omdurman. The youthful Osman gave to those wild nomads a most glowing account of the magnificent countries near the Nile, and of the Khalifa's enormous power and authority, and to prove the truth of what he said, he showed them all sorts of glittering dollars, and various kinds of cloths; nor did he rest until he at last persuaded them to leave their homes.

They set out with all their movable property--women, children, and flocks--all bound for Omdurman; they plundered the inhabitants of the various countries through which they passed, and forcibly seized their camels for transport. The Dar Hameda tribe alone, through whose country they passed, lost 4,000 camels. When they reached El Obeid, a special tax was levied for their maintenance, but, quite regardless of this, they broke into the houses, and laid hands on all they could find.

From El Obeid they passed on to Tayara and Shatt, whence the Khalifa had them conveyed in steamers to Omdurman. There were, in all, 7,000 warriors, exclusive of women and children; their arrival in Omdurman was viewed with a certain amount of alarm, and not without reason. As the Arnauts and the Bashi Bazuks were utilized by the Government in the old days, so were the Taisha to be now utilised under the Khalifa's rule; he favoured them in every possible way, the

beit el mal was made responsible for their maintenance and pay. After they had partially settled down, and some had been given the richest patches on the Nile banks, as well as several of the islands, the others were then removed to Berber, Abu Hamed, Dongola, and the Gezireh.

In all these places they very soon made themselves masters of the situation, and the Khalifa gave them the most important Government posts to fill; but notwithstanding all this favoured treatment, still they were not content: the more they had, the more they wanted. Upwards of 4,000 of them deserted from Omdurman, to proceed to their own country; but they were overtaken, and, as an example to the remainder, the right hand and left foot of three of them were cut off, though it was with the greatest reluctance that he ever punished his own countrymen in this way. Two hundred of the deserters were put in prison, where some of them died in a few days: the horrors of this prison so impressed these wild children of the desert, that to this day they tremble at the thought of it.

The sheikh of the Taisha was a man named Ghazali, who was by no means happy in his new position; and though he was well received by Abdullah, still he could not brook the feeling of being under the authority of a man who at one time had been one of his lowest menials. It was reported to the Khalifa that he was discontented, he was therefore summoned before him, and addressed as follows:--


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