Greek hotel a part of Khartoum modern history

Fri Nov 7, 2008 1:07pm EST
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By Alaa Shahine

KHARTOUM (Reuters Life!) - Wars, protests, coups and famines -- Khartoum hotelier Thanasis Pagoulatos has seen them all.

He even saw the man who almost killed him in a bomb attack at the hotel that he and his family have run for decades.

It was on a summer evening in May 1988. Pagoulatos said he was in his office in the Acropole Hotel when he saw a man come in and rush out shortly afterwards.

"The moment I went to see what was wrong with him, there was a huge explosion," the 64-year-old soft-spoken Greek recalled. "Then there was chaos. It was a powerful bomb."

The attack killed seven people and destroyed what used to be the hotel's main building, which had a roof garden, a lobby and 11 rooms.

But the bombers failed to stop the 56-year-old hotel, among the oldest in Khartoum, from remaining a key destination for foreign visitors, offering top service and warm hospitality.

Nostalgic Sudanese intellectuals even view it as part of Khartoum's modern history, a symbol of an era when foreigners saw themselves as long-term stakeholders in Sudan.

Pagoulatos said his father Panaghis came to Khartoum from Greece in 1944, fleeing the poverty that afflicted his country in the final days of World War Two. Four years after his arrival, he set up a confectionery shop and a liquor store.   Continued...