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

Fadl Maula was the late Abu Anga's brother

I will cite yet another case. A certain Wad el Banna, a good man and a well-educated Moslem, had the Khalifa's special permission to retain a number of historical works on Islam, which he frequently read to him and the Ansar after prayers in the mosque. Being in high favour, and a great personal friend, the Khalifa sent him late one night a very beautiful female slave; but when she arrived at the house, Wad el Banna was nowhere to be found, and it was discovered that he was with the Khalifa Sherif. The next morning Abdullah announced that he deserved to be hanged; but as he had been very fond of him, he forgave him for the Mahdi's sake; but ordered all the books to be burnt, and that he should be transported to Regaf. Just as the steamer was about to sail with Wad el Banna on board, the Khalifa recalled and pardoned him.

There was now little doubt that the Ashraf were forming a conspiracy; the immediate result of this discovery was the sudden arrest and imprisonment of Zogal, which caused no small stir. Then followed the arrest of Fadl Maula (afterwards known as Abdel Maula), which created still more excitement. Fadl Maula was the late Abu Anga's brother, and commanded the black troops in Omdurman. He was a man of great influence, not only on account of his brother's reputation, but he had also performed a number of valuable services for the Khalifa, notably at the time of the dispute regarding the Mahdi's successor. He lived near Gordon's fort of Omdurman, enjoyed a high position, and acquired a large number of the most handsome women in the Sudan for his harem.

These ladies lived in the highest luxury. He built good houses for them, and in the evening he had a band of Fertit blacks, who played before them on a variety of instruments. He was perhaps of all the emirs the most favoured. He had no scruples in going round his men's quarters picking out the good-looking women and sending them to his harem; but this debauched and extravagant mode of living soon brought its reward, and he became affected by a sort of leprosy which seemed to have touched his brain. He became violent, and had to be put in chains. He lay for months in this condition, and no medicine was given to him to ease his pain.

At length a fiki was summoned who declared the disease to be the result of witchcraft, and he volunteered to find out by whom this evil had been practised on him. One of Abdel Maula's wives was a young girl of great beauty, who was preferred to all the rest, and who lived with her mother. Love, however, soon grew cold, and he became enamoured of another of his wives; but the mother of the cast-off girl determined to be revenged, and to aid her in her object, she sought the assistance of a fiki, who gave her a number of amulets, for which she paid him well. These bits of paper she placed under the iron platter on which Abdel Maula's bread was baked, and gradually he grew worse and worse in health. At length the papers were discovered, and everyone was convinced that his illness had been caused by witchcraft. The woman was tried, found guilty, and had her hand and foot cut off. Abdel Maula did not recover for many months, and the unfortunate woman had been sacrificed to the fiki's deception.

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