The Royal Irish Regiment

Follower of the Mahdi

The enemy of Britain in the Sudan in 1884-5 were followers of the Mahdi, the self proclaimed Islamic messiah. This contemporay photo is of a warrior from the Beja people who had been mostly moslem since the 10th century. They attached great importance to their hair which caused the British soldiers to call them Fuzzy-wuzzies. The military leader of the Mahdists, or Dervishes as they were also called, was Osman Digna, from the Hadendowa tribe of the Beja people.

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by Stephen Luscombe