The White House
Posted by Mark / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage /
The White House.
In 1792 James Hoban was appointed by George Washington to design the White House – not bad for a modest Irish immigrant! Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic Mulay Suleiman was consolidating his Sultanship of Morocco, putting an end to piracy along the Barbary Coast, cutting ties with Europe (sponsors of the piracy?) and strengthening ties with the USA.
Sultan Suleiman was so impressed with the White House that he commissioned Hoban to build a palace for himself, to consolidate his presence on the Barbary Coast. Sadly, it’s now a sand-dune-shrouded ruin sitting next door to a hidden-away stable block which is home to the best Barb horses I’ve ever ridden. Barb stallions are Ferraris: responsive, powerful and well-mannered.
The sand-shrouded Dar Soltain, Barbary Coast, Morocco.
Jimi Hendrix loved horses; he was also intrigued by this mysterious “white house” in Morocco. So in the 1960’s he made the trip to Essaouira on Morocco’s Barbary coast and gave his name to the hotel which stands next to the stables, which stands next to the sultan’s ruined palace, known to map-makers and locals alike as “Dar Sultan”.
And the twist in the tail? “Soltane” in Arabic means “white” and has nothing to do with “Sultan” (a ruler) except that to the European ear, the two words sound very similar! “Dar” means house or safe harbour. Hoban’s palace in Morocco was called Dar Soltane, “The White House” and was home, for a short time, to Sultan Suleiman.