Places We Go / Sudan

A Fallen Monarchy: Visiting Abdulilah and Argo in Kerma, Sudan

Continuing with the theme of Nubianism… I doubt Nubianism is a word, but I am not really concerned because it works.

As I alluded to in the previous post, the area of the Nile valley known as Nubia that lies within present day Sudan was home to three Kushite kingdoms during antiquity: the first with its capital at Kerma (2600–1520 BC), the second centered on Jebel Barkal/Napata (1000–300 BC) and, finally, the kingdom of Meroe (300 BC–AD 300) which is featured in the previous post.

The Kerma of today does not reflect its past, but bear in mind that Kerma is one of the oldest inhabited towns in the world (occupied for at least 8-10,000 years) and that Kerma, as one of the earliest urbanized communities in Africa, was Nubia’s first centralized state, with its own unique forms of architecture and burial customs.

There are a number of historic ruins around and outside of modern Kerma including a vast cemetery (one of the oldest in Africa) where tens of thousands of people and cattle are buried (cattle were very important to their culture and, in fact, their domestication of cattle pre-dates any in Egypt’s Nile Valley).

Kerma today:



Kerma never regained its former glory. However, a monarchy still existed in the Kerma region until the 1970s. Our outstanding guide and driver, Ramadan, happened to be friends with the grandson of the last king – a man named Abdulilah. As such, we were made very welcome at his estate, Argo.

That’s Abdulilah on the left and Ramadan on the right. In the background is Argo:


Abdulilah was very kind to us – truly an excellent host with impeccable manners.  He has traveled extensively and is well-educated, making it even more of a pleasure to speak with him.

We went for a walk in the evening across Argo and I took these pictures to give you, dear readers, a sense of Abdulilah’s estate… The family may no longer be considered royalty, but they still possess significant wealth and influence in the area:




Argo stretches to the Nile and our walk ended with this view of the sunset over the river:


The women of Abdulilah’s family (his daughters are overseas) kept a low profile, but they, fortunately, made an appearance the next morning:


Also on that morning, we were fortunate enough to be introduced to other members of the family and given a tour of the former palace. The palace is on the edge of the Nile and has now fallen into ruin. Which, perhaps, makes it all the more interesting:








It’s a strong reminder that transiency is inherent in component things, isn’t it?

Visiting with members of the former royal family in one of their nearby homes after we were shown around the old palace:


3 thoughts on “A Fallen Monarchy: Visiting Abdulilah and Argo in Kerma, Sudan

  1. I like this site and i love respect my dear cousin Abdulilah. I am an author of a book on the history of al-Malik dynasty in Argo, currently working on a new edition with excerpts from Western travellers since the 16th centuary. I would certaily have the honor to have you on board.
    My regards.
    Sharaf Malik

  2. I like your site and hope to cooperate in shedding more light on the history of the dynastic rule in Argo, Sudan. I am an author of a book about this family, and about to complete an edition right now.
    Please keep in touch.
    Sharaf Malik.

  3. Pingback: Three Kingdoms 2010 – SAGALAGALA

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