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

Fell into the hands of the Ansar


Numbers even of women and little children were not spared, and the torture which the survivors had to undergo, to force them to produce their money, are scarcely credible. Ibrahim Pasha Fauzi (the favourite of Gordon) was tied for several days to a date-palm and flogged till he gave up all his money. The old widow of Mustafa Tiranis was flogged almost to death. She was a rich Circassian lady, and had supplied Gordon with money in donkey loads, and had been decorated by him with the Khartum medal.

Slaves were most cruelly tortured, beaten, and forced to disclose the hiding-places of their masters' money and treasures. The Shaigieh tribe in particular was most harshly dealt with; this was the only tribe which remained loyal to the Government, and even eight days after the fall of Khartum, if a Shaigi was seen, he was instantly killed; hence the Dervish proverb, "Esh Shaigi, Wad er Rif el Kelb ma yelga raha fil Mahadieh" ("The Shaigi, the Egyptian, _i.e._, the white one, the dog, no rest shall he find in Mahdieh").[G]

Farag Pasha did not live long after the fall; some still said he had betrayed the town, and the Dervishes were furious with him because, some ten days before the assault, during one of the preliminary attacks, he had shot Abdullah Wad en Nur, an emir of great repute, and much beloved by the Ansar. Farag was summoned before Wad Suleiman, who ordered him to produce all the money he had. Incensed at his treatment and at the charge of treachery, he fell into a hot dispute with Wad Suleiman, who had him forthwith beheaded as an unbeliever and an obstinate man. If he was really a traitor, he richly deserved his fate; but if not, his death was that of a brave man.

When the massacre in Khartum was at an end, the Mahdi himself gave orders that the survivors should be spared, but the wild fury of these fanatical Arabs had been satiated at the cost of 10,000 lives; the streets were filled with headless corpses, which were left unburied until the plunder had been distributed.

The whole of Khartum was now divided up amongst hundreds of emirs and their mukuddums. Every emir planted his flag in the midst of the quarter captured by his men, and then the work of collecting the survivors was begun. Ahmed Wad Suleiman ordered all free women and slaves to be brought to the beit el mal; here the young and good-looking fair women were locked up in a separate enclosure, the good-looking, unmarried Sudanese girls in another zariba, and in a third were placed black slave girls, suitable as concubines.

It is deplorable to think that at such a time were found certain of the well-known townsmen of Khartum who assisted the Dervishes to lay hands on all the prettiest girls in Khartum; through their intermediary, many of the women who had cut off their hair, and in other ways concealed their beauty and sex by disguising themselves as men, fell into the hands of the Ansar.

May God's curse fall on those wicked traitors who delivered up these unfortunates in order to gain favour with the Mahdi! What sufferings these miserable creatures underwent when they lay huddled together like cattle in a pen, awaiting their cruel fate! Many of them were still in their silken robes, all bespattered with the blood of their husbands and children, and there they lay, awaiting their turn to become the wives of those who had murdered their husbands and their offspring!

The first selection was, of course, made for the Mahdi, who took for himself all girls of five years of age and upwards, who, in a few years' time, he would take to his harem; then came the turn of the three Khalifas, whose selections were made especially under the direction of Wad Suleiman; then followed the emirs, each in the order of his rank, and one by one they made their choice of these wretched women. Those that were left were distributed amongst the Ansar. Then were openly enacted sights which would have melted hearts of stone. The weeping and lamentation of the white women, as they prayed and besought the pity of their masters, the rough jeering and foul replies of these monsters, it is all too horrible to relate.


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