Romolo Gessi

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Romolo Gessi

Romolo Gessi Pascha (born  April 30, 1831 at sea, †  May 1, 1881 in Suez ) was a British officer, African explorer and governor of the Egyptian Sudan of Italian origin.

Romolo Gessi was born as the son of Marco Gessi († 1842) and Elisabetta Golobetti on April 30, 1831 on a boat trip from Constantinople to Bucharest . Marco Gessi was a political refugee from Ravenna , studied in London, received British citizenship and became British Vice Consul in Bucharest. Romolo Gessi lived in Bucharest until his father's death, then attended the Theresian Military Academy in Vienna and then lived with his mother's brother in Halle (Saale) . From 1848 to 1853 he worked like his father at the British consulate in Bucharest. During the Crimean War , Gessi worked as an interpreter in the British Army and became friends with Charles Gordon . After the war he returned to Romania and worked as a salvage specialist at Lloyd's Register in Sulina . In 1860 he married the violinist Maria Purkart and settled in Tulcea ( Romania ). After the death of a brother, he took over his sawmill there, but it went bankrupt. Because of these financial problems, Gessi followed Charles Gordon's call in 1874, who had been appointed governor of Equatoria in the Egyptian Sudan the year before , to follow him to Sudan, where, on his behalf, he covered the still unknown stretch of the Bahr al-Jabal between Dufile in 1876 and the Mwutan explored which he was going around for the first time. On this occasion, Gessi determined the outflow of the Nile from the Albertsee .

The following year he and Pellegrino Matteucci made the unsuccessful attempt to advance from Fadassi to the Oromo , and then took command of the defeat of the uprising led by the slave trader Suleiman in southern Darfur and in the area of Bahr al-Ghazal , which began in 1880 with the Suleiman's death ended. Appointed pasha and governor of the province of Bahr al-Ghazal, he tried to create order there, but was trapped for three months by a plant barrier during a trip on the Bahr al-Ghazal to Khartoum with a force of 400 soldiers so that most of the soldiers died.

Romolo Gessi died of mala fever in Suez on May 1, 1881 , after he had been freed by the Austrian researcher Ernst Marno .


Posthumously his son Felix Gessi published a collection of reports and memoirs:

  • Romolo Gessi: Sette anni nel Sudan egiziano. Milan 1891. (Italian original edition)
  • Romolo Gessi: Seven Years in the Soudan. London 1892. (English translation)


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