July 2009 Update

Henry Keown-Boyd

Dear Friends,

No doubt there are many who are wondering how the parlous state of affairs in the Sudan is affecting the Society and its efforts to restore the Melik and to rescue the Bordein from being sold for scrap. As it is sometime since we published the last Bulletin, this is to bring you up to date on our plans for the future in advance of the next Bulletin which is in the pipeline for publication shortly.

By the end of last year, we reluctantly came to the conclusion that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Khartoum had no intention of establishing the Nile Foundation as an independent not for profit organisation under the terms of the Memorandum of Agreement which we signed on 16th February 2007.

Matters came to a head when we were informed that a Ministerial Decree had been issued to establish a quango under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, to take responsibility for the Melik and the Bordein. The Society was invited to participate but it became immediately apparent that it would in effect be under the control of the Ministry and there would be no guarantees that any funds raised would be used for the purpose intended. Nonetheless, in order to keep ourselves informed, we put forward the names of two members of the Society. However, there has been no response and to the best of our knowledge, this quango has not been inaugurated and the Board has never met.

Given the Government of the Sudan’s deteriorating relations with the rest of the world, and their increasing isolation, efforts to continue pressing the Sudanese authorities are unlikely to bear fruit in the short term. We have therefore decided to pursue a realistic course of action. This will involve the Society in :-

  • Forging a closer link with the Sudan Archaeological Society (SARS) of the British Museum which is now interested in the more recent aspects of Sudanese history, for example the development of railways. Agreement in principle has been reached and details of the arrangement are in the process of being worked out.
  • Continuing its work of researching and promoting Anglo-Sudanese history.
  • Continuing to publicise this work by the periodical publication of the Bulletin.
  • Developing its website as a means of promoting our objectives and incorporating a special section for Friends to communicate information.
  • Maintaining contacts in the Sudan, particularly with the Blue Nile Sailing Club through those members of SARS who spend the winter months there, and to be ready to resume active participation in the preservation of the Melik and Bordein if and when it becomes clear that Sudanese have genuine intentions and not simply a cover for inactivity as they have been in the past.

Finally on behalf of the Society, I would like to remind you that thanks to your invaluable support much has been achieved. The importance of the Melik and Bordein has been drawn to the attention of a wide audience across the world, not least the antiquities and tourist departments of the Sudan Government who, without our efforts, would have remained indifferent to their fate. Therefore, we urge existing Friends to continue their generous support and wherever possible to encourage a younger generation of enthusiasts to take the baton from the elderly hands of those who have managed to keep the project alive over the past sixteen years seemingly against all the odds.

With best wishes and renewed thanks to you all.
Henry Keown-Boyd