The weekend with the three academic meetings described in the previous entry was framed by two very important visits by Sudanese researchers to the Center of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Bergen.
The first visitor was Ali Salih Karar, professor at the University of El-Nilein in Khartoum and earlier on in his career director of the Sudanese National Records’ Office (NRO). He was the man who moved NRO from its first premises at Jamhuriya Street to the building that is hosting today the largest collection in the world on documents regarding post-medieval Sudan. His talk was dedicated to the long-standing cooperation between Khartoum and Bergen; both between the Universities of the two cities, but also between UiB and the NRO.
In fact, a good part of the collection of manuscripts in NRO are to be found in Bergen, among the material that Rex Sean O’Fahey, Jay Spaulding and Anders Bjørkelo copied from there with the permission of Abu Salim, first Sudanese director of the Sudan Archive and student of P.M. Holt, at the same time that P.M. Holt was supervising the thesis of Sean O’Fahey too.
A very interesting isnad that culminates with the publication by O’Fahey of “The Enigmatic Saint“. A book about Sheikh Ahmad Ibn Idriss, a sufi sheikh that was introduced to O’Fahey when Ali Karar was writing his thesis on the Sufi Saints of Sudan under the supervision of O’Fahey in Bergen… where more than 2000 manuscripts of the Idrisi tradition are kept!
The second visitor is Mohanad Humam Hashim. Journalist for BBC and a good friend, he came to Bergen invited by Anne Bang, the leader of the Center for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the UiB. He worked three days with Sean O’Fahey at the latter’s house and the outcome was the first list of the books in Arabic in the possession of the professor, books that will complement the unique collection that he donated to UB upon his retirement.
With the visit of Mohanad to Bergen, we hope to have initiated a new round of fruitful exchanges between Sudanese intellectuals, students, and recognized scholars, in the frame of creating both a physical and an electronic archive of the resources at the UiB regarding Sudan, East Africa and beyond.
In the next entry the character of this renewal will be further nuanced…