Egypt, the Sudan and the Nile

Courtesy Reuters

GENERAL GORDON, whilst on his fateful way to Egypt, on January 22, 1884, sent an official memorandum to Lord Granville in which the following passage occurs: "The Sudan is a useless possession, ever was so, and ever will be so. . . . I think Her Majesty's Government are fully justified in recommending the evacuation." The martyr of Khartum saw the Sudan through the spectacles of his generation. He surveyed its topography in the light of the past. To his mind the immense expanse which he beheld was but a channel through which the Nile carries its life-giving waters to the land of Egypt. He did not foresee that this "useless possession" might some day refuse to be merely an aqueduct. It never dawned upon him that in 1924 it might lay claim to the prerogatives of a riparian proprietor.

Every precedent justified the attitude of General Gordon. Egypt was the daughter of the Nile; the Sudan was her handmaid. The stream was more than the dower of the Pharoah's child; it was her birthright. The Sudan was born in bondage and knew no heritage. Such was the principle tacitly admitted when Tewfik, the Khedive of Egypt, in June, 1882, welcomed the arrival of the British Army of Occupation.

"At that time," writes Lord Cromer, "the nominal authority of the Khedive extended (in the Sudan) over an area stretching from Wadi Halfa on the north to the Equator on the south, a distance of about 1,300 miles, and from Massowah on the east to the western limits of the Darfour province on the west, a distance of about 1,300 miles--that is to say, he ruled, or attempted to rule, over a territory twice as big as Germany and France together. The worst forms of misgovernment existed over this vast tract of country. . . . The rich soil on the banks of the river, which had a few years since been highly cultivated, was abandoned. There was not a dog to howl for a lost master. Industry had vanished; oppression had driven the

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