Professor Tigani El Mahi

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A man of varied talents and interests ... A Psychiatrist ... A Poet ... A Politician ... A Linguistic … A Librarian … An Egyptologist

The first Psychiatrist in Sudan

Professor Tigani El Mahi

Professor El Mahi was born in El Kawa (White Nile Province) in April 1911

Professor El Mahi graduated from the Kitchener School of Medicine in 1935 and joined the Sudan Medical Service and worked in Omdurman, Khartoum, Wadi Halfa and Kosti.

He was granted the Diploma in Psychological Medicine in July 1949 from the United Kingdom and returned to Khartoum to establish the first clinic for mental illness in Khartoum North.

Professor El Mahi took up the position of WHO-EMRO Regional Adviser in Mental Health between 1959 to 1964.

Professor El Mahi contributed to Sudan politics and was appointed in 1964 a Member and Rotational President of the Supreme Council of State.

In 1969, Professor El Mahi was bestowed the Chair of Psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Khartoum a position he held until his death. He was granted a DSc degree by the University of Colombia, USA and a DSc degree by the University of Khartoum.

Professor El Mahi was the first Sudanese Psychiatrist and honoured as the father of African Psychiatry.

Professor El Mahi conducted numerous original studies on psychological medicine. His visionary community mental health services and their incorporation in the general health have been expressed in his scientific contributions decades ahead of their formal endorsement by the international community.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh and Professor Tigani El Mahi during the Queen’s visit to Sudan (February1965)

Professor El Mahi international presence was dominant and participated in many conferences e.g. The President of the 1st Conference on Education of Psychological Medicine, the Geneva UN sponsored conference on the application of science and technology in developing countries and the conference on the effects of social change on psychological health in New York.

Professor El Mahi delivered over forty lectures at American universities and institutes during his time in USA.

Professor El Mahi was elected President of the Sudan Doctors’ Union and was a member of the Academy of Arabic Language in Cairo he mastered English, Latin, Hausa and Persian.

Professor El Mahi assembled a personal library of 19,000 items, 6000 documents, 500 years old maps, 20,000 letters of which 5000 rare copies including few of General Gordon’s correspondences and personal notes. It also contained rare collection of stamps, rare artistic tableaus and 2000 coins some of which dated back to the times of Alexander the Great. His library was designated one of the most valuable personal libraries in the world and in 1972 the library was donated to the University of Khartoum and occupied a prominent section in the library.

Professor El Mahi contributed to many committees; the WHO Committee on Mental Health, the Executive Committee of the International Union of Health, the Scientific Council for Technical Assistance and many other scientific bodies.

Professor El Mahi original publication “Introduction to the History of Arab Medicine” was warmly received worldwide and in particular throughout the Arab World.

Professor Tigani El Mahi was a man of varied talents and interests. He was an Egyptologist and the photo shows one of his translations of hieroglyphic transcript into Arabic

Professor El Mahi was a man of varied talents and interests. He was best known for his encyclopaedic knowledge of history, sciences, literature and poetry, especially those of Sudan, Arab, Muslim, and the Old World. He was an Egyptologist, he pioneered the studies of Ethnopsychiatry and traditional medicine in the Sudan.

Professor El Mahi died in the early hours of Thursday the 8th January 1970.

Salih MAM. Professor Tigani El Mahi: Short biography and photos. Sudan J Paediatr 2013; 13(1): 75-78

Index of Sudanese Doctors