We received today from our friend and colleague Pawel Wolf the deeply sad news of the death of professor Khidir Abdelkarim Ahmed, Head of the Department of Archaeology at El Nilein University, Khartoum.
“Dr. Khidir” was the way we called him, all of us who had the chance to work with him. And working with Dr. Khidir was a constant source of inspiration in so many different ways, concerning Sudan, the history, and the archaeology of his homeland.
Passionate for the historical truth and the honesty with which it should be serviced, disappointed by the way most of the academic venues produced no real discussion and debate, active himself in debating all topics linked with culture in the capital city of Sudan where he spent the last years of his life.
He was from Kosti, a town in Central Sudan named after a Greek resident there, and he liked the idea that a Greek was active in Sudan Archaeology while resident in Khartoum. We met often at the Sudan Library where he seemed to spend most of his free time. No surprise, if one thinks how deep his knowledge was of all things concerning Sudan, its past, and the history of the archaeological research.
I glean from all I profited from acquainting him the following: “I found a colleague of yours” he said once, and he named a Greek civil servant of the Condominium era, George Yanni Karkanis. Karkanis had worked for the Geological Survey and thus his name could be found in the registers of the Sudan National Museum, as I discovered some days later. In total, 51 entries between 1928 and 1954, mainly concerning stone artifacts collected during Karkanis’ surveys. We had contemplated with Dr. Khidir the idea of composing the story of Karkanis together, in the frame of a larger publication. Proudly, I informed him a year later that I had discovered the entries relating to his family in the Church registers of the Greek Community in Khartoum, and that I would gladly visit back in Greece the members of the Karkanis family that I think I may have possibly traced.
It would be the least of a contribution to Dr. Khidir if one day I manage to produce a narrative on Karkanis presence in Sudan…
…in the meantime, may the memory of his smiling face look upon us with care and guidance from wherever he found his rest.