Notable Quotations

Winston Churchill:

On the Memorial Service to Gordon on 4th September 1898 at Khartoum

“The Memorial Service followed, and the solemn words of the English Prayer Book were read in that distant yet historic garden. A great man, a Christian and a soldier, a gentleman as well as a General, had perished in former days. Now here were his countrymen, who had travelled far and through many dangers, come to do him honour, to complete his work and, over his unknown grave, on the scene of his famous death, to pay the only tributes of affection and respect which lie in human power. The ceremony was duly fulfilled.”

On the Khalifa Abdullahi after the Battle of Omdurman 1898

“Of the Khalifa himself it is difficult for me to write, since he gave us no opportunity of discussing matters. His house exhibited several signs of cleanliness and refinement, and the loyalty of his people – unquestionably displayed – gave him some claims to be considered a fair ruler according to his light and theirs. He did not, even in the crash of his authority, massacre his prisoners… It has been said that he was cruel. IF THAT BE SO THEN HE MAY YET FIND COMPANIONS IN OTHER AND MORE SCIENTIFIC NATIONS.”

General Sir Reginald Wingate:

On the death of the Emir Wad El Nejumi at the Battle of Toski 1889

“Thus died the bravest of the Dervish fighting leaders, and one whose loss to the Dervish cause is irreparable. Fanatical to a degree he inspired his followers with the same fearless spirit and yet he was esteemed – even beloved – by the men on whom his reckless fanaticism had brought such terrible sufferings….the desolate expression of their faces told how much this savage hero had been respected and beloved.”

On the death of the Khalifa Abdullahi at the Battle of Um Dibaykarat (Gedid) 1899

“Seeing his followers retiring he made an ineffectual attempt to rally them, but recognising that the day was lost he called on his Emirs to dismount from their horses and seating himself on his sheepskin – as is the custom of Arab chiefs who disdain surrender – he placed Khalifa Ali Wad Helu on his right and Ahmed Fadel on his left, whilst the remaining Emirs seated themselves round him…and in this position they unflinchingly met their death.”

Lord Edward Cecil:

On Slatin Pasha

“…an ass but only a poor foreigner…”

On General Hunter

“…a real live Cromwellian, brutal, cruel, licentious, religious, brave, able and cunning.”

On Kitchener after he had been insulted by the Khedive Abbas Hilmi

“Naughty boy, naughty boy !” he (Kitchener ) said, gravely shaking his head. … When years later I told him how I disliked the Khedive, he could scarcely understand me. The Khedive was not important enough to dislike.”

Slatin Pasha:

On the Khalifa Abdullahi

“…I hope he will not never have a good moment – no never!”

The Emir Osman Digna:

On the British on the night before the Battle of Omdurman

“By God, these English! I have known them for fifteen years and I think we should attack them by night. You cannot beat the English without guile.”