INTRODUCTION

I HAVE been informed on good authority that a few years ago an English gentleman paid a visit to a high official of the Sudanese Government resident at Khartum, and, as a preliminary to a searching interrogatory on a number of points of great public interest, stated that he had just arrived and that his intention was 'to get at the very heart and soul of the people of the Sudan.' The official in question was naturally rather staggered at the declaration of a programme of such far-reaching ambition, all the more so because he had himself passed many toilsome years in the country, in the course of which he had made strenuous efforts to understand the habits and aspirations of its inhabitants, but did not feel at all confident of the degree of success which he had attained. He therefore anxiously inquired of the newcomer how long a time he intended to devote to the accomplishment of his self-imposed task. The reply given by this ardent seeker after Sudanese truth was that he proposed to leave Khartum by the train on the following Friday morning.

It may be, albeit I was told the anecdote as an authentic fact, that this is a caricature, but in any case it departs from the reality less than many might, as a

-vii-

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