A Thousand Wreckers, One City…Khartoum Restores “Memory of Destruction”


The city of Khartoum has reached being one of the largest African cities, as planned by the British colonialists more than a century ago, by extending the triangular capital beyond the three main cities (Khartoum, Omdurman and Khartoum North). During its history, it was subjected to destruction that engulfed it several times, the most prominent of which was during the war against Turkish-Egyptian rule in Sudan during the period from 1881 to 1899.

At that time, the Egyptian Khedive, to which Sudan belonged, sought help from Charles Gordon, who succeeded in carrying out two previous missions in Sudan, while the third was to evacuate Khartoum from the supporters of Muhammad Ahmed al-Mahdi, the leader of the Mahdist revolution, and although the battles of that period included other Sudanese cities, ” The siege of Khartoum, which took place between 1884 and 1885, ended with the victory of the revolutionaries affiliated with the Mahdi and the death of Gordon inside the palace square in Khartoum, and resulted in retaliatory campaigns that led Britain to think about re-colonizing Sudan again, and the “siege” of the city followed widespread destruction of it, so the British colonizer returned planning and construction thereafter.

“The Abdalab and the Funj used Islam to mobilize the shepherds surrounding the Nile Valley in order to attack the Kingdom of Soba” (Independent Arabia – Hassan Hamed)

The prophecy of the wise

War, as the weapon sharper than the sword and the fastest destroying cities with total destruction, has always been the most researched topic before the date of the first shot, in order to reach three answers to what can be summarized as (how it was, how it became, and how it will be). Khartoum, the capital, with its dense population and official government buildings, most of which date back to the colonial era, combined heritage and modernity, and its features were divided between rural and urban areas. In its heart live the rich and the affluent, and on its outskirts reside the destitute and the displaced from the wars of the south and Darfur.

Despite attempts to preserve the old shape of the city, encroachments on the main streets, residential neighborhoods, and white lands made slums a title, and when battles broke out between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces, in mid-April, Khartoum quickly collapsed, its buildings were flattened, streets burned, and neighborhoods destroyed. The speed of the strikes and the randomness of the attacks and attacks did not differentiate between public shops and residential neighborhoods, nor between tall buildings or simple dwellings.

Soba was mentioned for the second time in an inscription of King Ezana of Aksum in the year 350 AD (The Independent Arabia – Hassan Hamed)

And whenever Khartoum is covered with ruin due to wars, the Sudanese remember the fond sayings of Sheikh Farah Wad Tuktuk, who is believed in by a wide segment of the Sudanese and is called “the wise man of Sudan.” Wad Taktuk lived from 1635 to 1732, and many judgments and sayings are attributed to him. He also accompanies his name “Halal al-Mashbouk” in honor of his ability at that time to solve intractable problems with his acumen and prudence.

The Sudanese believe that much of what he said came true centuries after his death, that is, at this time when Wad Tuktuk used to associate his predictions with him as “the end of time.” And from what he said on our occasion, “Khartoum is building Ammar up to Soba, and ruining ruins, annihilated by bricks.” The meaning is that there is a lot of urbanization in Khartoum until it reaches Soba, which has now become part of the state of Khartoum, and then a time will come that will cover it with ruin.

middle kingdom

And Soba, which was mentioned by Wad Taktuk, is the capital of the Nubian Kingdom of Alwa in the Middle Ages (500-1504) in what is known today as central and southern Sudan and extended to the north. Sennar, and it was famous in the Kingdom of Alwa, whose capital is Soba, which is located on the eastern bank of the Blue Nile. As for the Soba region, it is located in the central region of the Kingdom between the White and Blue Niles, and is inhabited by the Christian, Nuba, and Anj ethnicities, “savages.” The kingdom was known to the Greeks as “Aloudia” and occupied most of The lands are in central Sudan and extended to the city of Sennar in the south.

Within the boundaries of this region, various churches were found on the White Nile, and some cities. The name “Alwa” and its capital, Soba, were mentioned on a plaque left by King Nastasen of the Kingdom of Meroe in the year 328 on the occasion of commemorating the sitting of the god Amun on the throne of the country. In this plaque, he predicted the emergence of new regions. It was later among them the Kingdom of Alwa and its capital, Soba, which occupies the second commercial center after the capital city of Meroe.

Soba was mentioned for the second time in an inscription of King Ezana, king of Aksum in the year 350 AD, and the inscription records that King Ezana invaded the Nile Valley in response to attacks launched by the Nuba against the allies of Aksum, and at that time he found the Nuba army settled in the Meroitic cities at the confluence of the two Niles, and then it was after that Soba is one of those cities established by the invading Psamtik soldiers into Sudan in the late sixth century BC.

He mentioned in the Sudanese Journal of Antiquities and Anthropology “Arkmani”, that “the writings of Arab historians in Soba relied on what Naoum Shuqair mentioned in his book [تاريخ السودان] And in the writings of Ibn Haqwal, Al-Idrisi, and Al-Masoudi, in their description of its palaces, buildings, and spacious houses, and that it has many golden churches, connected villages, and its many orchards, and that it has water connected to drivers from the Nile.


The magazine relied on what al-Yaqoubi mentioned earlier about Soba as the capital of the Kingdom of Alwa, which he wrote down in the Book of Countries. He attributed the history of the Kingdom of Alwa and its capital, Soba, to the middle of the fourth century BC, as the traveler David Rubini passed through it in 1523, and described it as ruins, as there were remains after the ruins dating back to that period, including now the columns of the Christian Alwa Church.


Folklore mentions that Soba has stories and narrations about the emergence of some creatures that are said to be from the jinn and appear in a strip of the region known as “Dabat Hamri”. Some tribes of “savages” still adhere to some rituals, including that there is a well-known formula for the oath, which is for a person to stand on a pile of waste that reminds of the destruction of Soba, and offers him a little salt, ash and corn flour, so he tastes the mixture, picks up a small piece of wood and breaks it over his head, then performs Section.

Some “savages” also stick to drawing the sign of the cross with charcoal or kohl on the forehead of the newborn and on sick children. Some of the Al-Anqasana tribes resort to a rock outside the village, which they call the grandmother “Soba” on all occasions such as birth, marriage or death. Nile in northern Sudan they go to get the blessing.

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The Kingdom of Alwa was attacked by its neighbors, the Zaghawa Kingdom, on the trade caravan routes in the Lake Chad region until the end of the fourteenth century AD. The kingdom was also weakened by the severing of religious relations between the Egyptian Church and the churches of Alodia, as the Egyptian bishops had stopped being sent to Nubia since the middle of the thirteenth century AD, so religious rites were neglected and churches were abandoned. The fall of the Kingdom of Makuria in the north and its people’s conversion to Islam led to the isolation of the Aloha kingdom.

“ruined soba”

As for the famous story circulating in the oral heritage of the Soba region, it is about the “desolation of Soba”. It is said that a woman named “Ajouba” had a very beautiful daughter, and the ministers of the Kingdom of Alwa were applying to marry her daughter. He has to kill the minister who preceded him to ask her to marry her daughter, so the minister does, thinking that she will fulfill his desire, and this was repeated with all the ministers who proposed to her daughter, so she managed to kill them all, which weakened the king of Soba and led to its ruin, and he walked on tongues since that time. Soba is ruined.”

After the decline of the Kingdom of Alwa, the alliance of the Funj state, consisting of the Negroid Muslim tribes, emerged in Sennar, led by its king, Amarah Danqas, and the Abdlab, consisting of Arab tribes coming from northern and central Sudan, led by Abdullah Jamaa, known as the leader of the Muslims at the time, and that was at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and they completed The destruction of the city by entering their armies into it, looting it, and vandalizing its churches and beautiful buildings, in what was known as the “ruin of Soba”, which Ajouba started, and the state that ruled Sudan from 1504 to 1820, the year in which the Turkish-Egyptian invasion of Sudan began, and since that date it has not The stories keep mentioning the “destruction of Soba” at every calamity, and now the Sudanese link between the “destruction of Soba,” the famous story in the popular Sudanese imagination, and the destruction of Khartoum as a result of the current war.

Pastoral Alliance

The establishment of the Funj Sultanate (the Blue Sultanate) in the period from 1504 to 1820, was on the ruins of the Kingdom of Alwa from the sixth century BC to the year 1504. The Islamic Funj, and Soba became one of the important cities of the Funj due to its cultural and civilizational impact.

In this regard, Al-Nour Hamad sees in his series of articles “On the Anatomy of the Pastoral Mind” that “the alliance of the Funj and the Abdallab was, in fact, nothing but a shameless pastoral alliance, founded to plunder the wealth of Soba, and to wrest the king from its kings,” and he added, “although Islam was present in That conflict, which ended in the ruin of Soba, but its presence was only an auxiliary presence, for the purpose of mobilizing and arousing hatred, and not an essential value presence.

He explained that “the Abdallab and the Funj used Islam to mobilize the shepherds surrounding the Nile Valley, in order to attack the kingdom of Soba, especially after they multiplied around it and outnumbered it in number and kit, and then seized its great wealth, which the eyes of these shepherds were originally set on for quite some time.”



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