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Omdurman

OMDURMAN, a town of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, on the west bank of the Nile, immediately north of the junction of the White and Blue Niles in 15° 38' N., 32° 29' E., 2 m. N. by W. of Khartum. Pop. (1909 census) 42,779, of whom 541 were Europeans. The town covers a large area, being over 5 m. long and 2 broad. It consists for the most part of mud huts, but there are some houses built of sun-dried bricks. Save for two or three wide streets which traverse it from end to end the town is a network of narrow lanes. In the centre facing an open space are the ruins of the tomb of the Mahdi and behind is the house in which he lived. The Khalifa's house (a two-storeyed building), the mosque, the Beit el Amana (arsenal) and other houses famed in the history of the town also face the central square. A high wall runs behind these buildings parallel with the Nile. Omdurman is the headquarters of the native traders in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, the chief articles of commerce being ivory, ostrich feathers and gum arable from Darfur and Kordofan. There is also an important camel and cattle market. Nearly every tribe in the Sudan is represented in the population of the city. Among the native artificers the metal workers and leather dressers are noted. The government maintains elementary and technical schools. Mission work is undertaken by various Protestant and Roman Catholic societies.

Omdurman, then an insignificant village, was chosen in 1884 by the Mahdi Mahommed Ahmed as his capital and so continued after the fall of Khartum in January 1885. Its growth was rapid, the Khalifa (who succeeded the Mahdi) compelling large numbers of disaffected tribesmen to live in the town under the eye of his soldiery. Here also were imprisoned the European captives of the Mahdists - notably Slatin Pasha and Father Ohrwalder. On the 2nd of September 1898 the Anglo-Egyptian army under Lord Kitchener totaUy defeated the forces of the Khalifa at Kerreri, 7 m. N. of the town. A marble obelisk marks the spot where the 21st Lancers made a charge. Within the enclosure of the Khalifa's house is the tomb of Hubert Howard, son of the 9th earl of Carlisle, who was killed in the house at the capture of the city by a sphnter of a shell fired at the Mahdi's tomb. (See Sudan: Angle-Egyptian.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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