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

With instructions to seize every Batahin he could find


Thus do the brothers, Abdullah and Yakub, hold the entire Sudan in the most cruel bondage, whilst the inhabitants are harassed by the merciless Baggaras, who have made themselves the ruthless masters of the whole country.

FOOTNOTES:

[N] The first chapter in the Kuran; it is held in great veneration by Mohammedans, and is used by them very much as the Paternoster is recited by Roman Catholics.

[O] Jinn is the Arabic equivalent for genii, in the existence of whom the Mohammedans are believers, and by whom they are divided, into "believers" and "unbelievers." The Mahdi always asserted that in battle thousands of Jinns fought on the side of the Dervishes.

CHAPTER XVIII.

A CHAPTER OF HORRORS.

The revolt of the Batahin tribe--Revolt suppressed with appalling cruelty--Wholesale executions--Method of hanging--Punishment by mutilation--The execution of Abdel Nur--Trade with Egypt--Wad Adlan, the emin beit el mal--His imprisonment and death.

Another example of the Khalifa's cruel and merciless treatment of all who oppose him is shown by the manner in which he dealt with the Batahin tribe.

This small but warlike tribe inhabits the right bank of the Blue Nile near its confluence with the White, and extends as far as Rufaa; also portions of this tribe are found scattered in the Gezireh. They are the most daring robbers, and, mounted on swift camels, they lie in ambush awaiting caravans and merchants, whom they generally kill and make off with their goods. Bruce, in his 'Travels,' remarks that the wooded country around Omdurman was their favourite haunt. They were the staunchest adherents of the Sheikh el Obeid, whom Gordon's "fighting pasha," Mohammed Ali, had so severely defeated.

During the massacre in Khartum the Batahin were most cruel and pitiless, and for their evil deeds God's just vengeance overtook them before long. Abdullah had sent an emir with a few soldiers to collect the ushr tax, but the wild Batahin, whose own system was to rob and plunder the poor, leaving them not even the wherewithal to live, resisted the emir and his men, and forced them to flee their country. When this news reached the Khalifa, he was infuriated, and determined to deal in the harshest possible manner with this rebellious tribe. He therefore despatched the emir Abdel Baki with a considerable force, with instructions to seize every Batahin he could find, put him in chains, and bring him to Omdurman.

[Illustration]

This tribe was now hunted down over the whole country, and Abdel Baki succeeded in securing a few hundred of them, as well as Taher Wad Sheikh el Obeid, who had been instigating them, and these were all brought to the capital. The influential El Obeid family had taken a very prominent part in the siege of Khartum, but after the Mahdi's death they had become discontented and were not on good terms with the Khalifa; Taher had, therefore, been ordered to leave Rufaa and settle in Omdurman.

On reaching Khojali, which is just opposite to Omdurman on the other bank, he wrote to the Khalifa to say that his father, who since his death had been revered as a saint in the Gezireh on account of his holiness, and who had received innumerable presents on account of his power in preserving the lives of infants, had appeared to him in a dream, telling him to stay at Khojali and make that the headquarters of the family; he was not, therefore, able to come to Omdurman. Taher showed his sagacity in refusing to comply with the order; but Abdullah, whose earnest desire it was to abolish the "saints" of the Sudan, agreed to give Taher twenty-four hours to decide whether he would come to Omdurman or not, so there was nothing for it but to go. However, after a time he was permitted to return to Rufaa, leaving his family as hostages in Omdurman. This is the Khalifa's usual mode of acting with all influential persons whom he suspects of disloyalty.


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