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

And Yakub insisted that he should suffer death


Khalifa's brother Yakub was his most dangerous rival, as Adlan's popularity had rather detracted from his authority. He and others represented him to the Khalifa as a dangerous man, who might at any moment bring his influence to bear in direct opposition to the Khalifa. It is therefore not to be wondered at that Abdullah grew suspicious, and one day, when Adlan was presenting his daily report, the Khalifa took occasion to tell him that he was far from pleased with him, and blamed him for his delay in sending corn to the starving Dervishes in Dongola. Adlan answered: "What can I do? The people won't have Mahdiism any longer, and that is why I meet with so much opposition." Some say that he even said much more than this; but the Khalifa was not accustomed to be talked to in this way, so he ordered Adlan to give up his sword, and the same night he sent him to prison. This gave his rivals ample occasion to speak against him, and Yakub insisted that he should suffer death.

Adlan was very heavily chained, and forbidden all intercourse with the outside world. His arrest did not at first create much excitement, but this was due to the many false reports which were circulated regarding the cause. On the following day it was announced that he might have to suffer death, on the third day this sentence was confirmed, and a messenger was sent to Adlan to ask him if he had any choice between being hanged or having his hand and foot cut off. Adlan chose the


To the beating of war-drums and the sound of the onbeia, he was led, with his hands bound, to the market-place. Here numbers of Baggara horsemen formed a square round the scaffold, and Adlan, escorted by a guard, entered the square with firm footsteps. When he reached the foot of the gallows, the judge called on him to repeat the Shahada or Moslem creed, which he did with a clear voice, then jumped on to the angarib, adjusted the noose himself, which Bringi pulled taut, and he swung into space, whilst at the same instant the Baggaras drew their swords and flourished them in the air, to signify that a like fate would surely befall all the Khalifa's enemies. But grief was read on every face, and never before had there been such heartfelt lamentations in Omdurman.

Ibrahim Wad Adlan was a most intelligent Sudanese, with black face and aquiline nose. He was about thirty-five years of age.

After his body had been suspended for half-an-hour, Yakub, accompanied by several others, took it down, and laid it out on the angarib; the bystanders say that Yakub could not conceal his look of half repentance, half terror, as he gazed on the corpse of his victim. It was wrapped in a cotton shroud, and taken to the cemetery outside the city, where it was buried, Yakub leading the procession. That night robbers pulled out the body and stole the clothes in which it was laid, leaving the corpse on the sand to be food for hyenas.

The Khalifa's reason for sending Yakub to attend Adlan's funeral could not well be misunderstood, for every one knew that Yakub had been the prime instigator in securing his condemnation; and yet Abdullah was short-sighted enough to imagine that in thus sending his brother he might to some extent dissipate the bad impression which Adlan's execution had created.

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