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Number: 3974
Continent: Africa
Region: North
Place Names: Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti
Year of Origin: 1887
Title: [Arabic Script]
Sub-Title:
Language: Arabic
Publish Origin: Istanbul
Height: 31.1
Width: 30.0
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Scale: 1 : 10,600,000
Color Type: No Color
Click for high-resolution zoomable image
Cartographer: Omer Kamil Pasa
Engraver:
Publisher: [Arabic Script] [New Military Press]
Other Contributors:
Northernmost Latitude: 24.0
Southernmost Latitude: 2.0
Westernmost Longitude: 25.0
Easternmost Longitude: 48.0
Measurement Notes: modern estimates
Notes: [Dasa Pahor and Alex Johnson source] from rare Ottoman bookID#4308, Ottoman text and perspective to balance Western view of Sudan region of conflict. Ottoman map#3974; Contemporary dark red boards with debossed decoration, brown calf spine with glit lettering and decoration, old label with manuscript title on the cover, leftovers of old paper labels on the spine (minor foxing and age-toning, small folds in margins, map with small holes on the crossings of the folds and a small tear; Ottoman text and perspective to balance the Western account often given as noted below. A rare Ottoman report on Sudan during the Mahdist War and one of the earliest original Ottoman descriptions of a part of the African continent This rare and valuable original Ottoman report on Sudan was written by Omer Kamil Pasa, an Ottoman officer, and is one of the first reports on a part of Africa in Ottoman language. According to the bibliographer of the Ottoman books on Afrika, Zekeriya Kurşun, this is the second separately issued text on a part of the African continent, following Omer Lutfi's Umitburnu seyahatnamesi from 1876. The book is accompanied with a folding map, embracing the area of today's Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya. The Ottoman interest in Africa developed in the late 19th century under the influence from the West and a threat of loosing valuable parts of the Empire. The Mahdist War: Epic Contest for Control of Sudan The Mahdist War (1881?99) was one of the longest and most brutal colonial conflicts ever fought by Britain. At its essence, Britain and her protectorate Egypt sought to wrest control of Sudan from the Mahdist Islamist rebels who had rapidly conquered much of the country. The 18-year long conflict resulted in many stunning defeats and victories for both sides, as well as involving the other regional players, such as France, Ethiopia, Italian Eritrea and the Belgian Congo Free State. The conflict was extensively 144 145 covered in real time (via telegraph) by the major European newspapers, ensuring that it was one of the earliest modern worldwide media spectacles. Winston Churchill, who fought for a time in Sudan, wrote The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (1899), a bestseller which dramatically raised his profile on the eve of his first election to Parliament. Sudan had been occupied by Egypt since 1819; however, large segments of the Sudanese population continued to actively resist the foreign presence, mounting innumerable insurrections over the years. In 1873, General Charles Gordon, a British general who had achieved international great fame due to his exploits in China during the Second Opium War (1856-60), was recruited by the Egyptians to serve as the Governor of the Equatorial Provinces of Sudan, with mandate to quell the insurgencies. Gordon, while a Christian religious fanatic, with a somewhat reckless streak, could, at times, prove a skilled operator. He achieved some measure of British success in Sudan, but grew exhausted by what was a thankless task, resigning in 1877. After that point, the political situation in Sudan became increasingly unstable, opening the door to momentous events. Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah (1844-85), was a regional Nubian leader and Islamic communicator, who through his great charisma and bold strategy suddenly rose to become the most prominent leader in Sudan. Proclaiming the ?Mahdi? of Islam (the ?Guided One?), he formed a movement of hundreds of thousands of loyal followers. In 1881, the Mahdists broke out into open rebellion against the Egyptian administration. The Egyptian Army gradually lost control of the Sudanese countryside, although they managed to hold Khartoum and were able to maintain their lifeline down the Nile to Egypt (albeit with great difficulty). By 1883, the Egyptians had 7,000 troops garrisoned at Khartoum, under the command of William Hicks, a retired British officer contracted by Cairo. Churchill described Hicks'rag-tag force as ?perhaps the worst army that has ever marched to war?. At the Battle of Shaykan (November 3-5, 1883), in Kordofan, Central Sudan, Hicks' force was annihilated by the Mahdist warriors; from that point on the Egyptians completely lost control of the situation. Britain, who had made Egypt a protectorate in 1882, was initially reluctant to get involved in Sudan. Even the best-case scenario would still be a monstrously bloody and expensive debacle. However, the situation down south was becoming so alarming that it threatened the security of Egypt proper; dramatic action was deemed necessary. It was decided that maintaining Egypt's rule over Sudan was not viable, such that the best course would be to mount a staged, orderly withdrawal of all Egyptian garrisons in the country. Unfortunately, forging a retreat agreement was not possible; the Mahdi rejected all parlays. General Gordon was pressed back into service to oversee what would be a difficult and dangerous mission to withdraw the Egyptian forces from Sudan. There was tremendous opposition to this appointment in British official circles, as many considered Gordon to be borderline impulsive (with good reason); however, Queen Victoria was his greatest advocate and her intervention secured his service. Gordon, accompanied by a modest British force, arrived to command the Egyptian garrison at Khartoum in February 1884. However, beginning on March 13, the Mahdi, at the head of 50,000 warriors, speedily moved in to besiege the city. Gordon, who was caught off guard by this turn, managed to send a mayday cable to London. British Prime Minister William Gladstone, whop personally despised Gordon and was known to have privately opposed Britain's involvement in Sudan, was reluctant to send a relief force; he procrastinated as long as possible. Eventually, pressure from the Queen as well as public opinion fanned by the yellow press, forced him to send a relief expedition to Sudan, led by the legendary General Sir Garnet Wolseley (who had achieved great notice for his missions in Canada and the Gold Coast). The Nile Expedition, or 'Gordon Relief Force' was marshalled at Wadi Halfa, on the Egyptian-Sudanese border, on October 26, 1884. The force took three months to fight its way up the Nile to reach the environs of Khartoum. However, on January 28, 1885, when they first sighted the city, they learned that Gordon, and almost all his 7,000 troops, as well as 4,000 civilians, had been slaughtered on January 26, when the Mahdists stormed Khartoum. Wolseley carefully withdrew his force from Sudan, leaving almost the entire country under Mahdist control. The British public was furious with both Gladstone and Wolseley for not rescuing their hero. Gladstone was voted out of office, while Wolseley's career took a temporary hit. Britain proceeded to mount a series of expeditions into Sudan, the earliest of which were unsuccessful. During the Suakin Expedition of March 1885, a force led by Lieutenant-General Sir Gerald Graham, proceeded inland from the Red Sea coast, and while initially successful, it was forced to withdraw upon being bogged down by guerrilla attacks in the interior. The Mahdi, Muhammed Ahmad, died of natural causes on June 22, 1885 and was succeeded by the Khalifa (?the Successor?), Abdullah ibn Muhammed, who provided the Mahdist cause with continued competent leadership. In 1886 to 1889, the British sent a force into Sudan to rescue the besieged Egyptian Governor of Equatoria (the far south of Sudan), Emin Pasha. While successful in its prime objective, the mission suffered many costly misadventures and failed to wrest any part of country from Mahdist control. In 1895, new political circumstances supported a more robust British position with respect to the Sudan, which remained entirely in Mahdist hands. The British government, headed by the hawkish Lord Salisbury, used rumours of French designs upon the Nile and the Mahdist?s on-going war with Britain's ally, Italy, in Eritrea, as a pre- 146 147 tence to enforce Egypt?s claim upon Sudan. It also helped that Egypt?s economy had improved dramatically over the last decade, while its army had become much better trained and equipped. In 1896, General Herbert Kitchener, an esteemed soldier with impressive experience in the Middle East, was appointed Sirdar, or Commander-in-Chief of the Anglo-Egyp - tian Army. Vast resources were given to Kitchener's expeditions, including the best artillery and armoured boats, while the railway system was extended southwards to assist its progress. Kitchener?s 9,000-man strong force scored a quick and resounding victory, annihilating a major Mahdist garrison at Ferkeh, near Dongola, on June 7, 1896. In 1898, Kitchener, after redoubling his preparations, led a force of 8,200 British regulars and 17,600 Egyptian troops on a mission to wipe out the Mahdists once and for all. While the Khalifa could count on 60,000 warriors, his force was dramatically outmatched in terms of weapons and technology. Kitchener defeated the Mahdists at the Battle of Arbara (April 1898) and, in what proved to be a decisive showdown, captured Omdurman, the Khalifa's capital, on Sep - tember 2, 1898. Later that month, as the main Mahdist force fled southwards, with the Anglo-Egyp - tians in hot pursuit, Kitchener's party was stunned to encounter a small French force, under the command of Jean-Baptist Marchand, at the fort of Fashoda (today Kotok), on the White Nile. While the two parties greeted each other cordially, the so called 'Fashoda Incident' sent shock waves throughout the global diplomatic community, as it opened the possibility of a Franco-British conflict in Africa (France was seen to have boldly interfered in Britain's zone of influence). Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and instead of pursuing such a foolhardy collision course, set the stage for the Entente Cordiale (1904), the enduring Anglo-French alliance. Turning back to the Mahdist conflict, the British gradually assumed control over the majority of Sudan, while hunting down the reaming Mahdist detachments. The final action occurred at the Battle of Umm Diwaykarat on November 25, 1899, when an Anglo-Egyptian force, under General Francis Reginald Wingate, defeated the main Mahdist army, killing the Khalifa. Britain and Egypt then proceed to rule the coun - try as the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, in a de jure condominium, until 1956, whereupon Sudan attained its independence. The book is very rare. Worldcat mentions the title with no examples in libraries. References: OCLC 745202324; Cf. Zekeriya Kurşun, Osmanlıdan Gunumuze Afrika Bibliyografya, 2013; Federico Donelli, Turkey in Africa. Turkey's Strategic Involvement in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2021, p. 7 [scale based on carto/actual distance Khartoum to Massawa]
Last updated: Feb 19, 2022