The Political Role of El-Jazira Aba in Sudan Modern History

Thu, 14 Sep 2017

Dr. Tayeb Ahmed Aaron
This study is a documentation about El-Jazira Aba) El-Jazira Aba in the past, present and future; the political role it played in Sudan modern history; its appearance into prominence on Sudan map; its geographical location, in addition to the social fabric of the island residents. It was ruled by a Mek called Aba, from whom it gained its name. The settlement of Imam El-Mahdi, as he arrived to the El-Jazira Aba in 1871 and ignited the1881 revolution in which he was victorious and it became famous around the world. It gained the name of Al-Mahdi Revolution locally and abroad. One of the major historical incidents that increased the value of the island is the arrival of Abd Al-Rahman Al-Mahdi to the Island in 1908. It was registered for him. Many tribes joined him and assisted in its rehabilitation. He established economic agricultural industrial projects. It became the residence of those tribes. The tribes participated in political and incidents, it was famous of and consequently gained political importance. It is now a town like any other. This study covers most of the political incidents that were witnessed by the Island in the modern history of Sudan.
Approach of the Study: The researcher followed the descriptive analytic. Some of the results reached by the study is that the Island deserves more attention and documentation due to its high historical value. This study indicates that the Island has become, later on, the Ansar (disciples) stronghold and associated with Al-Mahdi household.
Part I: El-Jazira Aba- From the arrival of Al-Mahdi to his migration to Gadeer
Part Two: El-Jazira Aba and Sayed Abdel Rahman – to 1933
El-Jazira Aba- Social and Economic Model Experiment
El-Jazira Aba Doctrine Religious Institute
The Incident of March 1954
Migration and Martyrdom of the Imam




El-Jazira Aba is located to the north of Kosti City across the White Nile by 5 km, to the north west of Asalaya Sugar Project. It extends from Al-Magran Village to the south up to Abu Kamdala to the north with a length of 36 km and a width of 3 km from El-Jaser Ravine to the east, up to the White Nile in the west . There are 12 villages in El-Jazira Aba, the center of which is Aba with 4 districts known by Rahmanyas. Within the districts they are named after the tribes. There are 57 tribe (census) . It has an extension that comprises of New Aba Town, Gafa Agricultural Region , that extends from Asalaya Sugar Project in the north to El-Managel Extension Project to the south, to the boundaries of Sennar State to the east with an area of 200,000 sq. acres. It embodies more than 60 villages  (Gafa Agricultural Scheme is now designated for (Gafa Sugar Project(.
Part I: El-Jazira Aba- From the arrival of Al-Mahdi to his migration to Gadeer
In the past El-Jazira Aba used to be a homeland for many tribes including Shilluk. It used to be ruled by a Mek named Aba, by whose name it got called. Aba for Shilluk used to indicate a proper name for a person, whether male or female. In the face of Arrival of Arab tribes to the region, its borders extended to the borders of Fashoda to the south. At the end of the Turkish rule in Sudan, only very few remained, who lived in small districts in El-Jazira Aba. Part of those tribes were Lahawein, Amarna, Subha, Degheim, Jedeiat, Sebegh, Dweih and Jaalein.  Those tribes used to enter El-Jazira Aba during summer time to graze their cattle and evacuate during the rainy season to avoid flies and mosquitoes . In addition, there were Danagla who were permanent residents of the Island. Their occupation was boat-building. Other tribes in Aba were Hasanat, Ahamda, Shankhab, Kenana, Dar Mehareb and Jumae.
El-Jazira Aba- The cradle of revolution:
Sheikh Mohammed Ahmed (Al-Mahdi) came to El-Jazira Aba in 1871 . He was born in the island of Nafei, to the far north of Lebab island, south of Dongola . His father worked as a carpenter in boat and waterwheel industry . His family moved from Dongola area in demand for good wood necessary for the craft, until they reached Shendi area. After the death of the father in Karabeej village, the elder sons inherited the trade. Mohamed Ahmed, the younger brother, was enrolled in the khalwa (religious school), where he learned Quran by heart when young. He then studied Sufism at the hands of many sheikhs, the last of them was Sheikh Mohamed Al-Khair at Al-Ghobosh khalawas at Berber , then he followed Samanya sect at the hands of Sheikh Mohamed Sharif Nour Al-Dayem at Um Marhi . It was testified for him with piety and virtue in his poem titled “The Advice”. He ratified him and awarded him permission to guide the followers in Samani Sect . In the meantime, his brothers settled in El-Jazira Aba on the White Nile.
Mohamed Ahmed joined them in 1871  and started to be called Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed. Since he arrived at El-Jazira Aba, he started establishing his social relations in the region. He got acquainted with the leaders and the prominent and effective figures including Mohamed Osman Abu Garja, Sheikh Mohamed Medhawi in Al-Aliga and Sheikh Ali Wad Hilou. Aba became the center of his movement.
When dispute took place between him and Sheikh Mohamed Sherif Nour Al-Dayem, he moved to the Maseed (Religiou Assembly) of Sheikh Al-Gurashi Wad Al-Zein in Al-Masalamya. Sheikh Al-Gurashi died. While constructing a dome on the grave Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed came to get acquainted with a man from the west who was Abdullahi Mohamed Adam Tor Shein. A friendship rose between them. In March 1881 Mohamed Ahmed disclosed to his friend Abdullahi Mohamed Adam that he was the expected Mehdi.
The Battle and Fame
Then he started addressing the tribes and religious sheikhs  asking them to support his claim of being the Mahdi and to advocate his revolution. When the Governor General Mohamed Rauf Pasha came to know about the Mahdi claim, he formed a delegation headed by Abu Saud Bey to investigate whether the information was correct. After the interview, Abu Saud ordered had to accompany them to Khartoum to meet the Governor General and have a discussion with the scholars . Al-Mahdi turned down the request and sent invitations to all the tribes he previously contacted in El-Jazira Aba, and some others who residing farther along the White Nile to join him on Friday. He expected the government to attack him with an army to capture him by force. Some tribes of the area supported him.
The governor general order the formation of an army to bring Sheik Mohamed Ahmed dead or alive. At the beginning of the battle Al-Mahdi forces waged strong attack on the Turkish army forces that routed them. Only those who reached the ship escaped. The ship took off returning to Khartoum with the news of defeat and falsified reports . Al-Mahdi army lost thirteen martyrs in that battle, while the Turkish army lost 120 soldiers and 6 officers . Al-Mahdi gained the weapons of the enemy and distributed them to his fighters  after the battle.
Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed expected the government not to keep silent regarding its defeat, and will quickly take revenge. Accordingly, he migrated with followers to Gadeer in south Kordofan under a previous agreement with Mek Adam Um Dabalo. Aba gained prominence and status in history. After Al-Mahdi departed El-Jazira Aba, it regained calm as it used to be before the revolution. It remained so until the arrival of Al-Mahdi’s son Abdel Rahman, who revived its name among people. Al-Mahdi had two sons living sons; Abdel Rahman and Ali. Ali was in exile in Egypt. When Ali returned to Sudan he did not get involved in politics, therefore he did not rise to fame.
Part Two: El-Jazira Aba and Sayed Abdel Rahman – to 1933
a-    Al-Mahdi Grieving Family
After Kerreri Battle on 2 September 1898 Khalifa Abdullahi withdrew inland to regroup the remaining mujahedeen for a fresh confrontation with the enemy. Imam Al-Mahdi family left Um Dorman, following the path of Khalifa Abdullahi led by Al-Fadhil and Al-Bushra, the sons of Al-Mahdi, Khalifa Sherif. They were captured by government forces and transported to Al-Shukaba village on the Blue Nile.
Al-Shukaba Massacre:
In Al-Shukaba government forces committed a human massacre that took the lives of Al-Fadhil and Al-Bushra, the sons of Al-Mahdi, Khalifa Sherif, young Abdel Rahman received a bullet in the chest, but did not get treatment with the wounded, for fear of the responsibility arising from shooting a boy who was not an adult  yet. Abdel Rahman, while being so young, found himself in charge of the fmily .  The family, then moved to Medani under the guarantee of Mohamed Taha Shegedi. Eventually they were allowed to return to Um Dorman. Since an earlier time, the government started finding its way to attract the feelings of the population of Sudan by popular leaderships, in order to be free to execute its colonial objectives. All the matters related to Al-Mahdi family was subject to close scrutiny between the Inspector General Slatin Pasha, the Administration Secretary and the Head of Intelligence Bureau. Slatin was the most closer of the rulers to the affairs of the family
b-    El-Sayed Abdel Rahman and the Migration to Aba
The government joined Al-Sayed Abdel Rahman to the political equation under the condition that he would change Mahdism into a peaceful religious Sufi sect similar to Khatmia and Hindia sects . He agreed to that. Based on that obligation a of Sayed gradual release started to take place .
In 1906 Sayed Abdel Rahman requested from the government a permission to go to El-Jazira Aba to rehabilitate it. After consultation with government advisors, he was granted permission, provided that he would rehabilitate the Island within five years and have it registered for him under the Rehabilitation Act . Therefore, Sayed Abdel Rahman needed a great number of people to serve him in cleaning and tilling the land, within the prescribed time limit. But he had no money. Therefore, starting from 1908, the government allowed Sayed Abdel Rahman to move freely around the territories of Sudan with 2nd class government permits by train and steamer . He contacted his Ansar followers in different parts of Sudan, persuading them, by different means, to migrate to him in Aba. He sent delegates to Western Sudan and the Blue Nile to encourage people to join him in Aba. Mass and individual migrations took place to support him in achieving the order of Allah. The migrants were persuaded by the urge to live near the son of Al-Mahdi. The following tribes gathered around him in Aba :
1.    Berti 2. Mahadi 3. Rezaigat 4. Zeyadia 5. Tunjur 6 zagawa 7. Fuata 8. Hausa 9. Hewtya 10. Daju 11. Marareet 12. Madaleet 13. Mima 14. Hawara 15. Beni Hussein 16. Bergid 17. Messerya 18. Beni Helba 19. Jawamaa 20. Tama 21. Saada 22. Bederya 23. Bergid 24. Hamar 25. Medoab 26. Khuzam 27. Bero (Selihab) 28. Kabaga 29. Qumur 30. Fur 31. Dar Hamid 32. Guraan 33. Tarajam 34. Salamat 35. Bernu 36. Ben Amran 37. Awatfa 38. Hawazma 39. Talba 40. Maalia 41. Taysha 42. Rawashda 43. Durook 44. Kenana 45. Beni Mansoor 46. Sahaneen 47. Musabat 48. Habanya 49. Bagrma 50. Kenjara 51. Kawahla 52. Danagla 53. Hasanya 54. Mahas 55. Masalamya 56. Agalyeen 57. Lahawyeen.
Thus 57 tribes responded to the call of the son of Al-Mahdi. They were divided into two categories: the group of laborers who were registered in a list after swearing to be dedicated for the service of their Imam for life, freely and shall be under order and prohibition. The  2nd category was the Ansar who were free and did not join the service of the Imam in any way.
The Director of Security, Mr. Yani, estimated the number of El-Jazira Aba population at about 26 thousand . They melted in one melting pot, who lived in total harmony forming a unique social fabric, that was overwhelmed by religious sentiments rather than the tribal or territorial affiliations. A clear evidence of the piety of Aba society was that they regarded the manifestations of joy, such as singing, drumming and ululations practiced in weddings as sin and moral degeneracy and whoever allows that would deserve punishment. This stayed valid until 1960.
The values of this society stayed guarded by committees of “promotion of virtue and prevention of vice”. Therefore, it is not odd to find El-Jazira Aba, until 1970, totally free of any manifestations of security precautions such as police stations and state courts. Sayed Al-Hadi Abdel Rahman Al-Mahdi described El-Jazira Aba in 1953 as the pure guarded place .
Registration of Aba Land
By orders of the Imam his followers cut the thick forest that covered El-Jazira Aba land. They even cut the forests on the White Nile and handed them to their Imam in cubic meters. The government allocated him preferences in supplying wood to move its locomotives  (trains and ships), when the transportation ceased between Sudan and Europe during the 1st World War, that caused the suspension of the supply of coal. Sayed Abdel Rahman invested the cleared land by cultivating sorghum by his followers to provide the supply necessary for their rationing.
El-Jazira Aba Land was registered as follows:
-    11444/849        feddan: Owned by Sayed Abdel Rahman and the heirs of his
late father
-        909/011        feddan: Government land, which it is entitled to cultivate
-      1776/846        feddan: Government land, which it may wish to rent
-        398/202        feddan: Owned by El-Jazira Aba in particular
The noble blooded Sir Sayed Abdel Rahman Al-Mahdi was notified of this on 11/10/1933. He established in Aba one of the biggest irrigated agricultural projects on the White Nile. The Government allowed him to distribute the lands of Gafa for Ansar.
El-Jazira Aba- Social and Economic Model Experiment
Al-Mahdi Firm
In 1925 the businesses of Sayed Abdel Rahman expanded. He completed the organization of his administrative and financial system. He tested experiments to make the Island a model development spot. The first experiment he established Al-Mahdi Firm Company and registered it under the Companies Act of that year and made its head office in Khartoum. Then he registered it under the 1931 Businesses Registration by the name of Al-Mahdi Firm. He established branches of agriculture, real estate and trade . The second experiment was a large cotton project.
The third experiment was the founding of Sayed Abdel Rahman gardens in El-Jazira Aba fertile land. He started with Tayba  Garden, which is still green until now. In 1941 gardens 1, 2 and 3  were planted (the current Mazad District). He was successful.
Education and Guidance Home
To ensure the creation of an integrated development, after the abundant production of cotton with plentiful revenues, a plan was made for its manufacture. In 1948 the Firm established a factory for cotton spinning at Janayen District in Rahmanya south-east. Modern wood machines for cotton spinning were installed, operated by female laborers. Each machine was run by one girl. The factory building had a capacity for 100 machines . The experience was short-lived due to the marriage of some girls and the departure of others to go to school . A weaving workshop was established, but was also unsuccessful.
Leather Industry Experience
After the availability of huge numbers of cattle, the Firm established a traditional tannery for tanning the leather of the Firm cattle, under the management of Yahya Bashir Izzel Din and 4 others. It is still operating to the north El-Jazira Aba water station . After the availability of leather and a tannery, the Firm established, in 1934, a markoob (traditional leather shoes) manufacture workshop from the cattle leather, managed by Seneen Salih and Adam Ismail. They design light markoob, known as Island cut . Sayed Abdel Rahman used to give gifts from those products, padded with cotton or rabbit skin for smoothness, to government officials. Al-Mahdi Firm used to organize trade shows for their products in Khartoum and Medani, thus became famous . Part of their leather experiments, the Firm established leather bags and coffee cups covers. They prepared the human staff, but it died in infancy due to shortage of raw materials .
Ironware Manufacturing
In 1939 Al-Mahdi Firm established a large engineering workshop at Tayba Agricultural Branch. It included sections of metalwork, machinist works and lathing. It started manufacturing irrigation gates, the different repair parts of engines. It also used to overhaul of tractors, bulldozers, trucks and small cars of Al-Mahdi Firm projects. It also sells its products to private projects of the White Nile. It was affiliated later to Rabak Gin . Many residents of El-Jazira Aba benefited from it.
The work was associated with fabrication of small simple or traditional farming tools such as hammers, hoes, threshers, harrows, scythes, spades, shovels, sickles, axes…etc by Tama tribe people. They were among the first migrants. They participated with their experience in constructing El-Jazira Aba, particularly with farming needs , the production of utensils. Pottery such as water pots were made by Tama women. Every maker woman is regarded as a good wife for a maker man . This belief is still held to be valid.
It is the fabrication of utensils from light iron, tin plated, which is metaphorically called tin. This manufacturing was introduced to El-Jazira Aba around 1940, when a famous tinsmith named Hameel El-Souk came to Aba from Kosti. He taught some youth how to fabricate metal coffee pots, metal kerosene lamps with open flint, stoves, rain gutters, metal ewers, cheese containers, repair of broken or perforated utensils. He also came up with metal coffee pots using tin. It attracted customers from as far as Singa, Tendalti, Kasala, Gedaref and elsewhere . It is still thriving.
Brick Making (Kilns)
Al-Mahdi Firm established brick kilns for building houses and bridges. Ansar built Sayed Abdel Rahman Palace at El-Jazira Aba . Although the experiment was successful, it was neglected and it became extinct.
The Stable
Sayed Abdel Rahman imported stallions from Kenya and England in excess of 120 horses. He built a stable for them in El-Jazira Aba, beside Rumeila stable, where horses were trained for racing .
Zakat Collection
Starting from 1919 Sayed Abdel Rahman gave instructions for the collection of zakat and circulated the instruction to all Ansar strongholds. He put a tight system for its collection. It was the first experiment for the systematic collection of zakat by a dedicated establishment. If any failure should occur in its disbursement, it would be corrected. Since that time huge amounts of sorghum and cattle  started pouring into El-Jazira Aba. The first patch of western Sudan cattle zakat arrived in 1919 . The Firm owned tens herds of all sorts of animals. It stablished a very closely knit network of zakat collection agents in every area, assisted in performing their jobs by representative. They were provided with bills. After the agent collects zakat in his region, he would transport it to El-Jazira Aba, if it was sizable, otherwise the Firm would send a delegate to get it, after issuing a bill. The delegate of the Firm would transport it to El-Jazira Aba to be handed over to the main warehouse with a delivery receipt from the storekeeper. The received quantity shall be compared with the original receipt copy received from the local agent. In return the local agent would be paid the tenth of the total quantity he collected, if it was in cash, or the equivalent cash of the same, if it was in kind. In case of cattle it would be estimated. In regard to grain, he would receive his percent in kind. When zakat quantity is limited, or in a remote area, where transportation is costly, it would be sold and its value deposited in cash. Al-Mahdi Firm established a special office for zakat collection and disbursement called Provisions and Cattle. The name was altered in 1950 to become “Religious Affairs Office” .
Zakat was integrated into Al-Mahdi Firm activities. Some examples are the sale of 40 ardebs of the sorghum collected by the Firm, to the merchant Ali Abu El-Nour , and the sale of cows and sheep . The expenditure of the office, as shown by the documents were:
1-    For the employed  at it, shrouds for the dead ; charities  for the disabled male and female workers , who spent their entire abilities in serving the economic purposes of the Firm; bursaries to the pupils of A-Koan  Mosque khalwa; hospitality funding for guests from outside El-Jazira Aba ; mosques imams ; hospitality of Imam family members, their guests and their clothing , their travel tickets , house maids ; the Firm horses ; Palace maintenance ; music band and the youth  and Umma Party conferences .
2-    Means of Transportation between the Western and Eastern Banks
The only means of transportation in El-Jazira Aba between the western and eastern banks used to be wood boats owned by the Firm, operated commercially until 1949. Due to occurrence of numerous drowning incidents, Sayed Abdel Rahman filled the current El-Jaser fill up, using heavy machinery in 1950. He thus created a passage for crossing of man and animal .
El-Jazira Aba Embankment
It refers to El-Jazira Aba protective surrounding it; from the east el-Jaser fill up and the White Nile west, with extensions to the north and south. When the Government decided to construct Jebel Awlia Dam, the engineers decided that El-Jazira Aba shall be flooded with the dam water, among other islands. The government compensated Al-Sayed Abdel Rahman with Al-Malaha Agricultura Project instead of El-Jazira Aba Project. They concluded an agreement with him in 1932, signed by Mr. Reed, White Nile Governor, on behalf of the Government. The Government paid Sayed Abdel Rahman the compensation due to him and to El-Jazira Aba residents in cash. He collected the compensation. He was compensated further with more land in Al-Malaha Project instead of cash compensation.
For economic reason, Sayed Abdel Rahman decided to protect El-Jazira Aba from drowning whatever the cost  might be. He did not wish to lose his agricultural project that created all his wealth, after he secured a new large project in Al-Malaha. He asked the Government to identify the level the Nile water shall reach, in order for him to fill to secure the Island along its perimeter . Sayed Abdel Rahman divided the length of the Island according to the distances required to be filled to the district sheikhs. Each sheikh had to get 20 m filled daily freely. Sayed Abdel Al-Rahman charged his brother Ali with the supervision of Ansar work in filling .
Integrated Youth Awakening
Around 1922 Al-Mahdi Firm established a camp by gathering the children of Ansar between seven to sixteen years of age. They were to be brought up in a special way of life with the intention of teaching them production and the different phases of farming . Their daily routine, since the establishment of the camp, until it was suspended in 1946, was the practice of farming chore works, starting with cotton cultivation through other farming phases including hoeing, defoliation, repetition of cleaning, cotton picking, and removal of stalks from sunrise to the afternoon. Then, a new rotation would start all over again. Their lives used to rotate with the new farming rotation. Some of them would be trained as technicians in the trades the Firm was planning to establish, such as shoes, upholstery, textile and generator engineering workshops. Whenever the Firm needed skilled technicians at any of its establishments, they used to select a number of the Order boys to learn the trade at the hands of skilled technicians to satisfy the needs of Firm, by absolute consent of parents. In 1936 their number reached 640 boys . Their camp moved from Rahmanya to Al-Mahdi Cave, then to Shifa Land. The Order Boys were trained on the orderly column marsh under the trainer calls. Sayed Abdel Rahman established a music band for called Order Boys Music.
Order Boys Music
In 1933 Al-Mahdi Firm brought huge pumps to irrigate its agricultural project. The occasion was celebrated. The Firm organized a celebration to which senior government officials were invited. Kosti army music band was invited to participate. After playing the music, the Order Boys column was reviewed. After the guests left, Al-Sayed Abdel Rahman summoned retired sergeant Ali Mohamed at the celebration venue and told him, “Since this day, I established a music band and called it ‘the Order Boys Music’”. The instruments were available and ready. He handed them over to sergeant Ali and ordered him to start teaching the boys how to play music immediately. The purpose of the music band was to perform at the receptions of Imam and his guests, perform at the feasts, then at the occasions of Ansar in general for a fee .
a-    Scouts
In 1937 Sayed Abdel Rahman established a scout group of 120 boys . They used to receive good, semi-military training. They carry one meter short, conical cylindrical canes of beech.
b-    Ansar Youth League
In 1946 Sayed Abdel Rahman established a semi-military youth organization named Ansar Youth League, for political purposes . During the indicated period the political parties started to form and the political activity around the country reached its peak. Disputes in the political arena heated up between independence supporters (Umma Party) and unionists (supporters of the unity of the Nile Valley). Sayed Abdel Rahman Al-Mahdi instructed Abdallah Abdel Rahman Nugd Allah to form a youth organization called Ansar Youth League. He declared that the purpose behind forming that League is to bring the youth up on the teachings of Islam, preserve the country against the leakage of political, moral and economic trends hostile to the teachings and the constitution of Islam . In fact, Sayed Abdel Rahman wanted it to be Umma Party arm to express its opinions by public demonstrations to pressure other political powers in Sudan arena to achieve political aims through bloody clashes, if needed.
After the establishment of the youth organization, Mohamed Zein Dhaw El-Beit El-Mimawi was appointed its 1st secretary in El-Jazira Aba. The youth were being separated under the supervision of Abdallah Abdel Rahman Nugd Allah .
In 1951 Idris Al-Khuzami was appointed the secretary of Youth instead of Mohamed Zein Mohamed Eisa Idris. The secretary of El-Jazira Aba supervised Ansar Youth organizations in White Nile, Blue Nile and elsewhere in Sudan, beside Nugd Allah. A club was founded in El-Jazira Aba, together with a special uniform that distinguished them, made up of a turban, a short traditional shirt called (Ala Alla). Each youth carried a one meter long cane they called (Umma Party), slatted at the front, conical, with three triangles facing each other. It could be used for clubbing and stabbing in training, instead of the gun .
The secretary general of the Youth was Abdallah Abdel Rahman Nugd Allah, with Awadh Salih his deputy , followed by youth secretary of El-Jazira Aba. The trainers were distinguished with shoulder stripes, similar to the regular army insignia. The Youth stand in columns of fours. They get divided into groups of hundreds following each other. The Youth flag is composed of 3 colors; blue, red and green, with a crescent in the middle. They adopted a call of “Allah is great and praise be to Allah” .
The Youth gather in El-Jazira Aba for the reception of the Imam every time he arrives. They marsh in column while reciting a cadence of “there is no God but Allah, Mohamed is the messenger of Allah”. They keep repeating it until the end of the march.
Sports Activities
Many sports teams originated in El-Jazira Aba that practiced their activities in clubs. Those clubs did not survive very long as they disappear or change from time to time, until Al-Wohda Club was founded. It is the only club that survived from 1939 until now.
In 1936  the club of Abnaa Al-Gharb (the Sons of the West) was founded, followed by Al-Watan (Homeland), Al-Rai (Irrigation), Al-Ziraa (Agricuture), Al-Dar (Home), Al-Bayara (Grove), Al-Kifah (Struggle) and Al-Nahdha (Renaissance). Out of all those clubs a united team was able to participate in outside matches. In 1939 that club played some matches against Kosti and Tandalti teams. It won some matches here and there . In 30/4/1939 those team united and formed Al-Wohda Cultural, Sports Social Club .
In 1939 El-Jazira Aba Elementary School team was formed. Al-Wohda Sports Team and the Elementary School team led the sports movement in El-Jazira Aba from that date until 1970. After that many clubs were founded that are still active .
a-    Religious Education
The education in El-Jazira Aba was initiated by Ansar memorizers of Quran at khalwas of Quran. Upon arriving from the west each Quran memorizer would establish a khalwa for memorizing Quran at his district or village. They established a khalwa at Al-Koan Mosque, which kept developing. By 1940 there were 4 tugaba (fire circles) that included a good number of pupils .  Some of them were outsiders who stayed at the guesthouse. When some of the pupils finalize memorization, they distribute them to the towns, villages and among Bedouins in Ansar areas, to oversee agents, send the necessary reports about their activities and the extent of their cooperation with the population . Several pupils from outside El-Jazira Aba memorized Quran at Al-Koan Mosque. Imams of Al-Koan Mosque were: El-Feki Mahdi Haroun, followed by Ali Mohamed El-Siouri, then El-Feki Adam Ali, then Al-Feki Al-Rasheed .
El-Jazira Aba Doctrine Religious Institute
In 1944 Al-Mahdi Firm established an intermediate doctrine religious institute. Eventually the Ministry of Religious Affairs integrated it to the subsidized religious institutes. The Firm constructed a building consisted of a wide room, inside Al-Koan Mosque courtyard, where it is still standing. It was completely affiliated to the Ministry of Religious Affairs in 1965 .
Government Education
An elementary boys school was established in 1924 and another boys school was established in 1960. In 1948  a girls’ school was established. After 1970 15 new elementary boys and girls’ schools, 6 intermediate boys and girls, 8 secondary boys and girls’ schools were established, in addition to two university colleges and a society college center.
Nuer in El-Jazira Aba
In 1959, 167 individuals of Nuer tribe (101 children + 59 male adults + 7 women) arrived at El-Jazira Aba. They were accommodated at a khalwa in Aba. Their existence ceased at the end of November 1960 .
Workers Strike of 1935
The foremen of the Firm, used to be called caretakers (Nazir), agreed to enter into a trike from the Firm work until Sayed Abdel Rahman would pay them wages, similar to the wages paid to the non-Ansar employees. All the workers joined the strike. The news reached Sayed Abdel Rahman very quickly. He rushed very fast on his vessel to rectify the danger, particularly it was cotton picking time. All the workers gathered on the White Nile bank to greet him as usual, before he disembarked. He preached them until they cried and swore in front of him to go back to the Firm work. They confirmed that they would work with sincerity and never to betray, be late or negligent . Resultant to the strike, Sayed Abdel Rahman approved a small payment called improvements.
Some Aba Youth Take Refuge in Al-Busata Project
In the summer of 1939 some forty-eight youth from El-Jazira Aba took refuge in Busata Project. They requested from the Project administration to grant them farms to live on them. At the beginning the Project honored their request and awarded them land to clean and allocated a place for residence to found a village. They decided to bring their families. The Administration apologized to those youths claiming that they could not give them more than four farms, due to the scarcity of the Project  land. They assumed that the Firm sent for them, so they had to go back to El-Jazira Aba. As a result of this migration, the Firm awarded one Farm for each tribe to whomsoever would benefit from it .
Al-Khirejeen (Graduates) Club Incident 1946
In March 1946 negotiations took place between Ismail Sidgi Pasha, Prime Minister of Egypt and Mr. Arnest Buffen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Britain to alter 1936 Treaty between Britain and Egypt. On the same day a friend called Al-Sayed Abdel Rahman to notify him that he received news from London notifying him that the British and Egyptians agreed to grant Egypt the sovereignty over Sudan and he could see no other person capable of foil their plan . Sayed Abdel Rahman issued a signal to Ansar in El-Jazira Aba to proceed to Omdurman. They were transported by the Firm trucks . In Dar Al-Umma (the Nation’a Home) a rumor spread among Ansar indicating that Al-Ashigaa (Brothers Party) attacked Imam Abdul Rahman Khartoum Palace and destroyed the windows. The Ansar gathered at Umma Home decided to proceed to Khirejeen Club in Omdurman and do the same. They left in devastating anger to the Club and destroyed everything inside and returned to Umma Home. Panic and terror spread throughout Omdurman and the capital. The Governor General contacted Sayed Abdel Rahman agreed with him to dismiss Ansar to the areas they came from. Accordingly he ordered Ansar to leave quietly and to refrain from attack no one in order to avoid any disturbances in the country .
The Incident of March 1954
The 1st of March was the awaited date for the convening of the first Constituent Assembly in Sudan tasked with deciding the future of the country. Umma Party newspapers accused the Egyptian Government of affecting the atmosphere of freedom and neutrality during the Constituent Assembly elections. They also claimed that the Government denied tens of thousands of independence supporters the right to attend the ceremony of that day. They also claimed that the Government insisted on taking sides with the Egyptian ambitions, which the Umma Party leaders regarded as a challenge to them in their home country .
The signal was issued to Ansar in El-Jazira Aba to travel to Khartoum. They were accommodated at the Firm residence at Al-Remailah and instructed to cheer with the name of a free united Sudan. The visitor arrived at the airport, but the line of traffic of their procession to the Palace was diverted. When Ansar got wind of that, their demonstration moved towards the Palace, until they reached Malia Street . In Kitchener Square the mounted police intercepted their march and ordered them to stop. They refused and persisted and continued their way. The police threw tear gas at them. They gained more agitation. Police hit them with sticks, they clashed with police with bare hands. Police, then, resorted to live fire. 33 martyrs, including the flag bearer, Hedai Ahmed, in addition to 107 wounded, within less than 15 minutes. Ansar killed Commandant Betty Yaotel and police Chief Mustafa Al-Mahdi . As a result of that incident, Governor General of Sudan, Robert Howe announced the delay of opening of Parliament to the 10th of March 1954, instead of the 1st of the month .
3-    Al-Mawlid (Prophet Mohamed Birth Festival)
The Umma Party and its Patron Sayed Abdel Rahman absolutely supported the military Coup led by Lieutenant General Ibrahim Aboud when announced in 17 November 1958. After Sayed Abdel Rahman passed away in 24 March 1959 and succeeded as Imam of Ansar his son Al-Siddig, Umma Party changed their position of support for the government of Ibrahim Aboud. He submitted a memorandum to the government in November 1959 that included views hostile to the policies of the existing regime . In his leaflets and during religious occasions, he kept agitating the people. The government started being alarmed with his actions. Hence the atmosphere became strained between the government leadership and Ansar leadership, indicating eminent explosion. This was manifested by Al-Mawlid Incident of 21 August 1961. Some Ansar in Omdurman who came from El-Jazira Aba to participate in the Prophet Birth festival with the Imam, as usual. During the celebrations, a police force raided the place and ordered them to disperse. Ansar did not obey the Government request. They clashed with the police. A battle  ensued that ended with losses, where three tree policemen died and five Ansar and eleven wounded.
4-    El-Jazira Aba Incidents of 1970
Before May Coup of 1969, the Elections Commission was busy with the election of the president. The nom inees were: Imam El-Hadi Al-Mahdi, Ismail El-Azhari and Babiker Awadh Allah. The public arena was excited with this event. On 23 May 1969, Imam El-Hadi boarded his Cessna plane to El-Jazira Aba. He was supposed to return to the capital in the morning of 25 May 1969. The visit of Imam El-Hadi to El-Jazira Aba was associated with the preparations for the presidency elections.
In the morning of 25 May 1969, before Imam departed on his way to Khartoum, Omdurman Radio Station broadcast a military communique in which Colonel Numeiri the takeover of power by the Armed Forces, declaring the birth of May Revolution. In his first statement, he denounced the political parties, accusing them of being reactionary. He launched a fierce attack on sectarianism . Therefore, Imam El-Hadi decided to stay in El-Jazira Aba, until he would find out the direction of the new regime. By reviewing its statement and the announced cabinet of ministers, that was filled with names known of certain political affiliation, it was clear that the Revolution had adopted the Communist party and Arab nationalists as an ally.
The presence of Imam in El-Jazira Aba at the declaration of Revolution and his stay there made him an icon of leadership outside the authority . Imam decided to build A-Koan Mosque. Until then it was built of straw and log shed.
The leadership of Jabhat Al-Methag Al-Islami (Islamic Covenant) from Khartoum. Also, came Al-Shareef Hussein Al-Hindi from Sennar area, who was preparing for the visit of Ismail Al-Azhari as part of election campaign. Some Southern leaderships  came to El-Jazira Aba for consultation with Imam Al-Hadi about the organization of opposition . Al-Sadig Al-Mahdi came from Khartoum and consulted with Imam on how to act towards the Coup. He talked to him about the possibility of containing the coup instead of leaving it to the Communists and Arab Nationalists, particularly as on top of it individuals from Ansar households. He asked the Imam to return to the Capital , but he refused. Al-Sadig went back and was detained.
Imam submitted the demands of the opposition, which were:
-    Removal of the Communist front of government, release of political detainees, endorsement of Islamic constitution, identify an interim period, after which the military would go back to their barracks.
The opposition sought to expand its circle. Sherif Hussein departed El-Jazira Aba carrying two messages from Imam; one to Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie and the other to King Faisal bin Saud, whose families had historical relations . Ansar masses started streaming to El-Jazira Aba from all over Sudan, once they learnt that the Imam was in El-Jazira Aba, to receive guidance from him. Their numbers had been growing significantly on Fridays to attend prayers. Their numbers, sometimes, reached 120  thousand. The military training started in El-Jazira Aba within a few months after the coup. It was simple training without weapons  to undermine the regime. Therefore, bombarding El-Jazira Aba became a strategic aim for the Communists, who were holding the reins of power, since it became a base for reactionaries . After visits to Kosti, Rabak and El-Jazira Aba by the Revolution Command, I was decided to mobilize a large force to storm El-Jazira Aba to capture Imam El-Hadi whatever it might cost. A huge quantity of equipment and soldiers  were hauled to Rebak. Forces and equipment were transported from Obeid and stationed to the west of El-Jazira Aba, while forces arriving from Khartoum were stationed in Hajar Asalaya with a force from Kosti.
On Friday 27 Mars 1970 at about 3:30 pm bombardment started on the sides of El-Jazira Aba by tank guns and howitzers from all directions. Bombers intervened bombed many targets. Ansar ran short if ammunitions and no supply was available.
Migration and Martyrdom of the Imam
There was no way for the army to capture the Imam, while Ansar are alive. To preserve blood and continue the jihad from camps in Ethiopia, Majlis Al- Shura (Consultation Council) imposed on the Imam to migrate to Ethiopia. The Imam left with some relatives and others from Jabhat Al-Methag Al-Islami (Islamic Covenant Front) at 3 am of Tuesday 31 March 1970 in a lorry driven by Mohamed Ahmed Harran. The driver took the delegation to the Ethiopian borders at Al-Kurmuk and went back to Dueim (with his uncles at Shabasha). El-Jazira Aba surrendered to the armed forces in the afternoon of the same Tuesday.
The migrants were captured near the borders with Ethiopia near Al-Kurmuk.  Imam, his escort Seif Eldin El-Nagi and his uncle Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa were killed. The rest of the migrants were transported to Khartoum, where they were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor.
The Results of El-Jazira Aba battle
The total number of martyrs of El-Jazira Aba was 700 (686 men + 14 women). The Firm properties of land, facilities and cash were seized. Many developments occurred that changed the face of El-Jazira Aba. Water services were introduced for the first time. Electric power covered all the districts of the Island. The presence of the Government in the Island brought a lot of gain to the lives of the residents in most of the aspects of their living conditions. The number of schools multiplied by four folds, six government intermediate schools were opened. The Government established four agricultural rain cooperatives outside the planned area at Al-Megaines and Agady. They supplied them with trucks, tractors, trailers, ploughs.
El-Jazira Aba in its presence now: The total No of residence is 56088, as per the last census of 2015 . The urban features show that it has an administration council, police station, resident judge and rural court, prosecutor general office, security office, rural hospital, 4 clinics, a wide market, water station, land office, transportation bureau, stadium, 18 basic schools, 8 secondary school, 2 colleges of Imam Al-Mahdi University (Arts and Sharia and Law) and Society College Center. It also has 45 mosques where Friday prayer sermon is performed in 15  of them, most of them built of fixed materials. They all used to be built of straw and wood. There are two khalwas for memorizing Quran. Al-Koan Mosque fire circle was suspended since 1960.
El-Jazira Aba residents depend on rain farming in Gafa area for their livelihood and the large agricultural project, that almost stopped due to the weakness of financing and the high debt due from 830  farmers; earning from simple manufacturing and trade. The daily features of life in El-Jazira Aba today is not different from any other town in Sudan. The ownership of residential and agricultural land now belongs to the residents


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  •  Dr. El-Tayeb Ahmed Haroun, “El-Jazira Aba, the Whisper of History”, Sudan Open University Printing House, Khartoum, 2014, p 135
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  •   Prev. ref, p 2
  •   Prev. ref, p 1
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  •   Prev. ref, p 322. Um Marhi is located North of Um Dorman on the western side of the Nile on Jebel Al-Sultan. Refer to Al-Mahdi, prev. ref, p 5
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  •   Same source
  •   A letter from the head of the bags workshop to Mohamed Osman Abdulla to the researcher on 28/11998
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  •   Prev. ref
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  •   The same ref
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  •   Same ref
  •   Same ref
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  •   El-Taher Adam El-Dhai, previously mentioned personal interview. Refer to Abdullah Abdel Rahman Nugd Allah “Abdel Rahman the chief”. The Farmer, p20
  •   Same ref
  •   El-Amin Hussein El-Douma, personal interview, 13/4/1997
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  •   Osman Mohamed Ali Dathour, previously mentioned interview
  •   Prev. source
  •   Abdel Rahman Al-Mahdi, prev. ref, p54.  The ref did not indicate the friend. The researcher thinks he would likely be the Governor General.
  •   Abdul Rahim Yagoub Osman and Sherif Hejair, previously mentioned interview. Mohamed Abdel Karim Ahmed, interview 6/6/1998
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  •   Abdul Rahim Yagoub Osman, Ada Osman and Sherif Hejair, previously mentioned interview. Meki Hassan Abbo, prev. ref, p28 and the following pages
  •   National Archives, Umma Newspaper, Khartoum, No 511, 5/3/1954
  •   Ahmed Mohamed Shamoog, The Victorious Revolution, Khartoum, Dar El-Fikr, 1981, p32
  •  Prev. ref
  • •    Imam El-Hadi: Imam of Ansar
  • •    Ismail Al-Azhari:  Chairman of Council of Sovreignty
  • •    Chief Justice
  •   Mohamed Abdel Aziz, the Details of El-Jazira Aba Incidents, Cairo 1994, p75
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  •   prev. ref, p46
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  •   Admin unit, file 57/b/1, memo of handover and receipt, 2015
  •   Prev. ref
  •   Prev. ref


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