Located towards the Northeastern end of Moyo district close to the South Sudan border, the remains of a nineteenth century military base of Emin Pasha is in the midst of being taken over by nature.

Fort Dufile is an abandoned tourism trove and  a swath of sprawling primary forest dominated by coconuts, acacia, fig and other savannah vegetation.
It is littered by elephant dung and some of the human activity such as cattle kraals, bee keeping and pond fish farming are evident within and around the deserted garrison area.

Some of the pre-colonial bricks said to have been brought either from Egypt or Turkey are still in good shape and Pasha's former harbor for steam ships is a busy launch pad for boats and canoes taking travelers to Nimule, a town in South Sudan.
boat leaves for NimuleA boat leaves for Nimule with passangers from Pasha's for habour for steam ships. PHOTO BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

A Ugandan military official overseeing security of the area says it takes 30 minutes of voyage on river Nile to reach Nimule but one-and-a-half hours to return especially with luggage and cruising against the water current.

The soldiers main job nowadays according to the commandant is to wake up at night to shoot in the air to scare away roaming elephants approaching from the Nimule game park across the borders in South Sudan.

Near the landing site are rickety shops set up by residents of Dufile Sub County and a military check point showing the only visible presence of government activity in the area.
underneath this idyllic scenery however  lies a panorama of a dreadful past.

The Fort

Fort Dufile's construction began in 1874 when the site was identified as a suitable station for assembling steamers by Colonel Charles Gordon and completed  in 1879 by Mr Emin Pasha, a German Islamic convert who abandoned his original name Dr Edward Schnitzer upon conversion.

At the entrance to the mothballed military installation stands a sign post bearing the portraits of Colonel Gordon and Mr Pasha indicating the years of the fort's construction.
A more than one century old trench starting from River Nile encloses nearly five hectares area also ending at the river that formed the eastern boundary of the military facility.
Mr  Edward Adrawa, 44, a resident of Paanjala village in Dufile recounted various tales of horror, cruelty and brutality by Pasha and his Nubian soldiers meted upon the indigenous community who were forced to construct the military facility under savage conditions of martial slavery.

"Mr Pasha gathered people all the way from Palorinya now a refugee camp in Obongi and as far as Torit in present day South Sudan to build the fort," he said.
Mr Adrawa said the starting point of the trench at the Southeastern part of the fort was the horrendous slaughter point of workers who resisted the work.
They were buried in a cemetery inside the fort. At this spot the neighbouring community members counted about 40 graves identifiable by placement of stone debris.
Former fort cemeteryThe former fort cemetery is identified by such collection of stone debris. PHOTO BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

Another burial place has three graves suspected to have been of Egyptian regular troops. Mr Adrawa says the graves were cemented but destroyed during former President Idi Amin's regime by treasure hunters who suspected gold or mercury could have been buried together with the dead.

One of the alleged graves is now a tall anthill. There are about four elevated points which are believed to have been observation stations where Remington guns mostly handled by Egyptian regular troops were staged while the rest of the Nubian soldiers reportedly carried percussion guns.

The decay of Dufile

Mr Pasha's flight to what shortly after him became the Southern Lado enclave was occasioned by the Mahdist uprising that drove Mr Gordon out of Khartoum.
Mr Pasha did not only establish the Dufile fort, he also constructed Wadelai in present day Pakwach district.

In 1888, Mahdi's successor Mr Khalifa Abdallahi, determined to boot European presence out of the Southern tip of Sudan ordered the invasion of this region.
A three day siege of Dufile therefore ensued but fortunately after the Nubians had ended their mutiny against Mr Pasha and on November 28, 1888 a battle of epic proportions took place pitting the two Islamic armies loyalties against each other.
Pasha’s former mosquePasha's former mosque is now a Kraal for cows littered with 140 year old bricks said to have been brought either from Egypt or Turkey. PHOTO BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

Commanded by Pasha's field commander Afendi Salim Bay, the Nubians estimated to have numbered around 1,200 soldiers put up a brave fight against the invading 1,400 Mahdists under the command of Umar Salih, leaving between 210 to 250 Mahdists dead according to varying estimates by historians that have tried to publish competing accounts of the episode.

However the forts defenses were breached and the invaders managed to kill several steamer crew at the harbor. This event started the decay of Dufile although it also saw some occupation activity by Belgian soldiers sent by King Leopold II between 1902 and 1907 before it was abandoned for nature to reclaim.

The Royal Geographical society excavation

In 2006 Dufile witnessed yet another Western led interface under the burner of the Royal Geographical Society of Britain when it sent Professor Merrick Posnansky of the University of Los Angeles in the United States of America with a team of students including from Makerere University to excavate the area.

In what has become in the eyes of the local community as a ploy to finish off the crumbled fort, the team made off with all the treasures they stumbled upon such as the fragments of the old fashioned guns and ammunitions while promising to rebuild the old fort into a modern tourist magnet.

Mr Morris Vuzi, the Dufile LCIII chairman says the only piece of a gun remaining for tourists to view is in possession of an old resident who normally hides it in a secret location and is only shown to people who show no intention of taking it away.
nature takes overNature takes over the abandoned fort Dufile. PHOTO BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

"They took all the tangible things and never came back. the professor wanted to take the gun but the old man refused and instead hid it away," Mr Vuzi said. The Ugandan soldier in charge of the area's security said the person in possession of the gun fragment had travelled to Nimule when West Nile Web visited Dufile.

But Mr Vuzi said some European visitors last year advised them to open access routes and place labeled sign posts to explaining what had been there at some strategic points to guide visitors and then use that as basis to charge some fees to earn local revenue.