Saturday has become in the last years the second day-off in the week of the Sudanese employees. However, our colleagues in Atbara were kind enough to accept that we visit them today to start the discussions with the local authorities about our project and the starting phases for its implementation.
Leaving Khartoum, one meets immediately the images of Sudan that one forgets that are the everyday reality of most inhabitants of the Middle Nile Valley outside the capital.
Atbara lies behind the junction of the Atbara and the Nile, after the end of the Butana plain from where the ancient city of Meroe was ruling the Middle Nile Valley. Meroe is first and foremost famous for its pyramids, in fact it is probably the site with the largest number of pyramids in the world!
The point of the junction of the two rivers is almost as impressive as the one in Khartoum between the Blue and the White Niles, although the river Atbara is seasonal and most of the time the junction is just an extension of the river Nile upstream on the dried bed of the Atbara.
Strangely enough, the history of the region is not very well known and this is one of the points that attracted us to the project we are initiating these days.
Another reason is the ethnic and tribal variation of the population of the town and its surrounding areas, where among riverine tribes one also sees the characteristic camps of the Hadendoa.
And there is of course the significance of the town of Atbara itself, built by the British to serve as the headquarters of the Sudan Railway (S.R.).
Thus, Atbara proudly offers to the visitor a decent exhibition of the history of S.R. in the old English Church of the town.
And if one is lucky enough, one gets to learn the details through the guiding offered by ustaz Mustafa Ahmed Fadul, the director of the museum himself!
Apart from ustaz Mustafa and Erik Tønnesen, in the above photo one can see Abdelbagi Ageeb, the director of the Tourism Authority Office in Atbara, who was one of our hosts today.
The second one was Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Abdelmegid, professor at the University of Damer, the other most vital collaborator in the project.
And we were accompanied by the Director of the Gebel Barkal Museum, Mortada Bushara, who will be our man on the ground.
Our group was joined by Nagi Awad Salih, officer at the Tourism Authority Office.
Here we are gathered at the junction of the two rivers with the old iron bridge in the background.
The photo was made by Hatab, the driver of our car.
As implied in the previous entry already, our main task was to look through the old town of Atbara for types of buildings that could accomodate the center we would like to create here. Three types attracted our attention, but I felt that one of the several residences with the characteristic dome constructed by the British to house the officers and employees working for the S.R. could do the job pretty well!
What do you think?
…Sunday afternoon, back to Khartoum.
On the way to Acropole, a stop at the Republican Palace Museum for a short meeting with its director Abdelnasir Sir el Khatem Hassan Ameen.
Abdelnasir is another person who showed sincere interest in our project, not only because the museum he is directing is presenting the history of the twentieth century in Sudan and is therefore linked with the historical context in which the center will be created, but also because he is originating from Atbara and his father was working at the S.R.
Interestingly enough, Mortada, Abdelbagi, Mohamed Ahmed, and Abdelnasir were all colleagues at the University creating along with some of the inspectors from N.C.A.M. the most dynamic work force for the protection and promotion of Sudan’s cultural heritage.