THE GROWING OF KHARTUM
YOUR first emotion over Khartum yields to a sentiment of surprise as you begin to look around you, a surprise abundantly justified when you recall the recent history of the place. Fifteen years ago, when it fell into the hands of the victors of Kerreri, Khartum was a heap of ruin and rubbish. Founded by Mehemet Ali in 1834, it had been a town of some importance and pretension as the centre of Egyptian rule in the Sudan. For that reason, as soon as Mohammed Ahmed, the Mahdi, got possession of the town he set about to destroy it utterly. The public buildings were burned, the private dwellings, mostly of mud, were dismantled, the inhabitants, or such of them as had escaped massacre, were commanded to transfer themselves to Omdurman, some three miles away on the opposite bank of the Nile. This village became an immense human warren, and, under the Khalifa, it was pretty nearly the largest town, measured by population, in all Africa. Within sight of its festering alleys Khartum crumbled to dust in the sun. When Kitchener entered it, on September 3, 1898, to hold the funeral service over Gordon and hoist the Two Flags on a wrecked battlement of Gordon's Palace, it was lifeless and vacant. An entirely new city had to be created.