The Physical Setting
“Bilad al Sudan” was the name given by medieval Muslims to the belt of African territory south of the Sahara Desert and extending from the Atlantic to the Ethiopian plateau. In its more modern restricted sense, however, ‘the Sudan’ means the Republic of the Sudan, formerly the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium. It covers nearly 1 million square miles, an area seven times the size of California and five times the size of Texas, which makes it the largest single country in Africa. Apart from a narrow plain along the Red Sea, the Sudan is entirely land-locked, sharing boundaries with Egypt and Libya to the north, Ethiopia and Eritrea to the east, Kenya, Uganda, and the Republic of Congo to the south, and the Republic of Chad and the Central African Republic to the west.
The Sudan lies wholly within the tropics, and with the exception of the ‘Sudd’ region in the south, and some hilly districts towards its western and eastern extremities, constitutes one vast plain. The extreme north is Saharan in its heat and aridity, but below this, a central belt (from about latitude 18 degrees to about 12 degrees North) contains some of the richest agricultural and grazing land in the country, including the ‘Gezira’ island between the White and the Blue Niles, traditionally the granary of the Sudan.
To the south of this belt the rich grasslands are replaced by thickly forested and intensely humid jungle. This climatic diversity enriches the southern region with a variegated flora and fauna. All in all, roughly 20 percent of the land is arable, accounting for 100 million acres, of which only one-fifth is under active cultivation, and that mainly in the northern region.
A culture of a civilization is based upon its accumulating heritage. The dietary habits of people show an aspect of this civilization's culture. Sudanese cuisine is as diverse as its geography and cultures. Central Sudan, is perhaps the region that is the most diversified and colourful in its cuisine and dietary habits. This is due to its being a melting pot for the different Sudanese cultures and peoples, and to its exposure to external influences, like the effect of the British domination during the Condominium period. Societies always start with simple, unsophisticated types of food and gradually with their growth and development, they begin to improvise and discover more tasteful and sophisticated dishes, each depending on the types of new animal and agricultural discoveries. After having established their basic cuisine, they tend to the development of complementary foods e.g. appetizers, desert and other foods, which allows for the emergence of a distinct cuisine. The external influences on people's dietary habits in Sudan could be mentioned here, for example, red pepper and other spices like garlic, pepper and others. They were brought to Sudan by the Syrian traders and Arab settlers from the Mediterranean who came to Sudan during the Turkish rule. They also introduced some dishes e.g. meatballs and pastries. Not only that, they also introduced some vegetables and fruits that were not known in Sudan. It is of importance to note that the main staple of the Sudanese is a special type of bread called Kissra, which is made of durra or corn, Kissra is taken together with a stew and this has become the main dish in central and Sudan in general. The main components of which these stews are made are dried meat, dried onions, spices and peanut butter. Other substances could be added like milk and yoghurt. These are used in preparing two well- known stews; Ni'aimiya and dried ocra is used in preparing other stews like Waika, Bussaara and Sabaroag. Miris is a stew that is made from sheep's fat, onions and dried okra. Other vegetables like potatoes, eggplants and others are used in preparing their stews meat, onions and spices. These stews are accompanied with porridge (Asseeda), which is made with wheat flour or corn. Other times Kissra is used. As for the popular appetizers in Sudan, there is (Elmaraara) and (Umfitit) that are made of parts of sheep like the lungs, liver and stomach. To these are added onions, peanut butter and salt, it is eaten raw. Also other types of porridges are popular in Sudan which are made of wheat, Dhukhun and dates. They are taken together with milk, sugar and margarine. Soups are an important component of the Sudanese food, the most popular are Kawari', which is made of cattle's or sheep's hoofs in addition to vegetables and spices. Also there is Elmussalammiya, which is made with liver, flour, dates and spices. In spite of the fact that in the present, Northern Sudan is known for its simple cuisine, yet it could be of significance that historical evidence has proven that ancient Nubians were the first to discover wheat and from them, the world got to know about it. This explains the fact that wheat flour has still remained the staple food for the people of the north who use it in making their main dish (Gourrassa). It is made of wheat and baked in a circular shape, its thickness and size change according the needs. In the east, the most popular dish is the (Moukhbaza), which is made of banana paste. This part is greatly influenced by the Ethiopian taste and cuisine. In the west, each tribal group had adopted different forms of food that are basically very simple. Milk and diary products are a fundamental component to the majority of the people since most of them are cattle breeders. A distinct serial by which the west is well- known is (Dukhun). It is used in preparing a thick porridge called (Aseeda Dukhun), to that is added a stew called (Sharmout Abiyad) which is cooked with dry meat. Another form of stew is (Kawal), which is made from a mixture of some plants' roots that are left to leaven and dried afterwards. As for the south, the abundance of rivers, lakes and swamps had made the people in these regions dependent on fish for their food. A popular dish is a stew named (Kajaik), which is cooked of dried fish. It is added to the porridge, which common throughout Sudan, (Aseeda) is made of sorghum. Sometimes natural margarine is added to the mixture. In Equatoria, (Aseeda) is made of (Bafra) ehich is a plant of the same family of potatoes. To the (Aseeda) is added a green vegetable called (Mouloukhiya) with peanut butter Fassikh is one of the most popular dishes in Central Sudan. It is made from a certain kind of fish which is leavened for some time and after that cooked with onions, spices and tomato sauce. Fassikh is known in Egypt but they do not cook it there, instead they eat it raw. It is most probably of Nubian origin same as Eltarkeen, which could not be found anywhere except northern Sudan. As for beverages, the Sudanese has several distinct beverages that are made of some fruits that grow in Sudan like; Tabaldi, Aradaib, Karkadai and Guddaim. In Ramadan (The Muslims' fasting month), one of their favorite drinks is the Hilumur which is made from corn flour and spices. Also there are Aabrai Abiyad and Nashaa, which are made of corn flour also.
Food and drink
Sudanese people are very hospitable. Meals are eaten around a large, communal tray on which various meat, vegetable, salad, and sauce dishes are placed. These are eaten with the right hand, using flat bread or a stiff millet porridge known as asida or kisra. The strong Sudanese coffee is served from a special tin ‘jug’ with a long spout, known as a jebena. The coffee is sweet and often spiced with ginger or cinnamon, and is drunk from tiny cups or glasses. Fruit teas and herbal teas such as kakaday (hibiscus tea) are also popular. Most people seem to have a very sweet tooth, piling several teaspoons of sugar into their cups of tea, and enjoying sugary desserts. Peanuts, known as Ful-Sudani, are a popular snack, and can be made into delicious macaroons.
Sudan’s "whirling dervishes" are famed throughout the world for their spell-binding dances, in which they are accompanied by rhythmic drumming, as they gradually work themselves into a trance. Dervishes are Muslim devotees. Lyrics are all-important in Sudanese music, with new words often made up on the spot for a special occasion such as a wedding. Traditional instruments include tom-toms, rababas (viol-like stringed instruments with a hide-covered body), and the oud (a lute).
The oldest and most consistent of Sudanese modern and contemporary art is the art of the tribes.
The Sudanese tribal life has always been the least responsive to change. Art of the tribes of the Sudan shows great reservation and conservatism. An art of such continuity clearly exposes the spirit of such tribal cultures. In fact the richness of the Sudanese art is in its diversity. This entire heritage, past and present, constitutes the base on which the modern Sudanese artistic practices are deeply grafted. This is why Sudanese contemporary art, stands out among the different African schools of art as unique. This entire heritage, past and present, constitutes the base on which the modern days of Islam in Sudan. It is traditional Qoranic School. Which continued to exist from as early as the 9th century AD until the present day? It teaches art as a practice, but not as an objective. Yet its artistic impact on the Sudanese child seems to be important. When the Turks invaded Sudan in 1824, Mohamed Ali Pasha, who was very keen on the modernization of the Nile Valley, introduced the Modern Elementary Education, yet he based the experience on the traditional (khalwa) school. In 1936, a department of art education was established in Bakht-el-Rida Institute of Education. The department was headed by Jean Pier Greenlow a British artist and art teacher he went into history as the founder of the modern art movement in Sudan. Since the pioneering efforts of Greenlow in 1936, Sudanese art has in fact developed into a relatively strong cultural medium of expression. The change came when some of the pioneer graduates of Gordon Memorial College went overseas for further studies. But they soon came to discover that the works of art could only exist between the old and new, between convention and revolution within a certain society. This is why some pioneer artists where culturally frustrated in Europe. They naturally failed to be part of the European mainstream art. They started to drift away from it, and began to try things on their own. So the Sudanese artists returned to Khartoum to face their own culture and to practice art as a socio-cultural activity. The Sudanese contemporary society is complex, plural and draws from many different traditions and visual styles. Hence what was called latter (Khartoum School) in the 60s was in fact a forum for the struggle to capture the spirit and perspective of, not only Africa but the Islamic World also. Because both worlds make the cultural reality of Sudan, a reality of unity and diversity. Contemporary Sudanese art world did not experience a war of styles, or strong schools other than (Khartoum School). Nevertheless, there is a relatively strong art movement, which is highly experimental. In its own way this movement is modernist and seeking to globalize in spite of the rather restrictive conditions under which hundreds of Sudanese artists are working. If serious art can be defined as the art that does not have an obvious commercial orientation. Then we can say there is serious art today in Sudan. If you happen to be in Khartoum, then you must look around to see its art.
Arts and crafts Many crafts are available in Sudan’s souks (markets). Strings of heavy beads often include antique trading beads made from colored glass. The traditional wraps in bright, printed cotton, worn by women, are mostly imported. Many traders make their goods in the marketplace: old tin cans are cut and soldered into cooking pans and lamps; tailors make up the loose white gowns worn by men; and leather is punched and stitched into bags and saddles for donkeys and camels.
Cultural Centres and Public Libraries
Abd El Karim Merghani Cultural Center The center was opened on the 15th of May 1998. Its objectives are the dissemination of culture, knowledge and scientific information, by means of the holding of fairs, symposiums and lectures on the arts, folklore and culture in general. The center is equipped with a big, bilingual (Arabic - English) library with a child's section, and also an audio-visual library. Work hours: Weekdays from 8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., 6:O0p.m. - 8:00 p m. Address: Omdurman, Wad Nubawi- Elu'mda- Intersection of Wadi Saydna St. with Al Doma St. P.O. box 168 Telephone: 552638 Fax:775435
Basheir El Rayah Public Library The library offers literary and various cultural services, as well as book fares, exhibitions and cultural forums. Daily working hours: 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Friday is a weekly holiday. Location: Mowrada, near the Municipality Omdurman. P.O. Box 447. Tel: 555273
Beit El Thaqafa The 'Cultural House' was established in 1991. It houses a book and film club and a theatre, and hosts cultural forums and festivals. Daily working hours: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. Friday is a weekly holiday Location: Khartoum East, near the Army Headquarters.
British Cultural Center The Center was established in 1948. It offers English language courses and houses a library, a conference auditorium and film shows. Daily working hours: Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday a weekly holiday. Location: No. 40, Sharia Abu Sin, Khartoum. PO. Box 1253. Tel: 780817 Fax: 774935
French Cultural Center The Center offers French language study courses, a library, a video club, film shows, seminars, art exhibitions and various cultural activities. Daily working hours: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. Friday is a weekly holiday Location: Off Mek Nimir Ave. Tel: 772837
German Cultural Association EstablIshed In 1997. the AssocIatIon offers German language courses, a library, film shows and cultural forums. The Association is open throughout the week, except Fridays Location: El Mek Nimir Avenue, Khartoum. PO. Box 1866. Tel: 777833 Fax: 779377
Iranian Cultural Center Established in 1989. It offers the foltowing activities: Iranian language courses, computer courses, and Arabic penmanship courses. There are a general and an audio-visual library. It has another branch in Omdurman providing the same activities. The center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Address: The headquarter Mek Nimir and Africa road junction, Khartoum Tel: 472275 - 471224 Fax: 472274 Omdurman: Sharia Al'arda, Near El Merikh stadium, Omdurman
Libyan Arab Cultural Center Established in December 1988. It offers the following facilities: a public and general library, a child library, and an audiovisual library. Also it gives courses in the following: typing, secretarial courses, Arabic penmanship, photographing, video filming, film editing, press and public relations, accounting, teaching of Arabic as a second language, and sewing. It holds other cultural activities and forums. The center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It is closed on Fridays and public holidays. Address: St. 15, New Extension, Khartoum. Tetephone: 464726 Fax: 472044
The Iraqi Center The Center was established in 1944 and offers the following facilities: libraries, a theatre, computers, video room and art exhibition gallery. A cultural forum is organized every Wednesday. Daily working hours: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Friday is a weekly holiday. Location: Sharia El Azhari, Khartoum North.
Welcome to Khartoum, the capital city of the Sudan, the largest African country. Our cosmopolitan city's range if historic attractions, museums, free annual events, and tourist services is unrivalled by any other Sudanese city. This visitor map was designed to help you get around the nation's capital with ease, and to acquaint you with many outstanding sites the city has to offer. Major attractions, transportation system around the city and main roads across the city are noted in the map. We wish you a pleasant stay in the nation's capital, and hope that you will visit again in the future.
Location Khartoum town lies along the left bank of the Blue Nile, and forms a huge triangle. Its vertex at the confluence of then two Niles, the White Nile on its west side and the Blue Nile on its east and the base bordering Gezira State some 30 K. southward. It is situated on latitude 15 36 N, and longitude 31 32 E, and it is 1352 ft. above sea level. Its population has grown to over 5 million people. Khartoum, together with the two cities, Omdurman and Khartoum North (Bahri), these cities jointly called the tri-capital, constitute the National Capital of the republic of Sudan.
Climate of Khartoum The climate is mainly tropical. During summer (March - June), the temperature is quite high, with an average temperature of 38 C, with May as being the hottest month of the year. Autumn starts from mid-July and ends on September, with a total rainfall of 167 mm; it is characterized by abundance of sandstorms. Winter starts on October and lasts up to March, it is endowed with a beautiful to moderate, dry and healthy weather, the average temperature in Winter is 24 C, the ideal time for foreigners to visit Khartoum and enjoy its tourism activities
Places to visit in Khartoum
The Mogran Khartoum Mogran, (confluence of the two Niles) is an outstanding natural attraction to its lovers from all over the globe. The area is famed for migratory birds, frolic flowers and various restaurants as well as a family park.
Museums Khartoum is home to several museums, including the Sudan National Museum, The National Museum for Ethnography, Natural History Museum, and the Khalifah House Museum, plus others. They are the must places to visit, as they serve as one stop venues for finding out about the people, culture and history of the largest county in Africa.
The Mahdi's Tomb It is located at Omdurman and encompasses and encompasses an important part of the country's heritage during the Mahdist Era.
Omdurman market This ancient Souq exhibits all types of handicrafts, artifacts, souvenirs and various items of Sudanese folk memorabilia. The market is usually open from 8:00 a.m. and closes at sunset.
Sheikh Hamad-el-Niles Tomb On the western side of Omdurman on Fridays, many dervishes congregate dancing their famous and well-known rites and songs. The practice exemplifies tradition of Sufi in the Sudan.
Boatyard It lies just off shore of the Abu Raouf quarter of Omdurman, on the western side of the Nile, where we can see the manufacturing of traditional boats, the way it have been done for centuries.
However, the above are not the only to be seen. Khartoum is rich with other attractions that are really breath taking. Among them we may include: - Nuba wrestling, the Camel Market, Abd-el-Qayum Gate, the Nile's Islands, the WWII cemeteries, the church of St. Matthew, king Farouqe's mosque, Sayyid Ali's mosque, the Republican Palace, the Botanical Gardens, west Omdurman's desert and Jebel Awlia, etc.
Hotels Hotels are found mainly in Khartoum, and are found in all categories. They are well equipped to extend their services from 5 stars grade and down to 2 stars. The majority of these hotels are located in Khartoum. There are plenty of available rooms at all classes throughout the year.
Water Although the water in hotels and camps in Khartoum is generally suitable for drinking, we advise our visitors to drink mineral water as a precaution for their health - mineral water is now found almost everywhere a visitor goes to.
Food Most types of meals and internationally known dishes are available in Khartoum. All sorts of fresh meats (chicken, beef, lamb and fish) are slaughtered or caught daily. Fresh vegetables (picked daily) are plentiful. Fruit is from local sources. There are a variety of canned and packaged goods. Hotels and restaurants serve mostly standard fare of both the Sudanese and international types.
Clothes Light cotton clothing is advisable for Khartoum during the summer days. During the winter days, a pullover is usually sufficient as additional wear. During winter evenings and early mornings, heavier clothing may be necessary. Generally speaking, a layered style wardrobe works best.
Getting there A foreigner intending to visit KRT could obtain an entry visa from the Sudanese diplomatic missions abroad, or he could get one at KRT International Airport with a prior arrangement with the Ministry of Foreign Relations, if there is no mission in his/her country.
Health Regulations Vaccination against smallpox, yellow fever, typhoid and cholera may be compulsory for foreigners upon entry. Prophylactics against malaria are advised.
Customs All personal belongings are customs free, with an allowance of 200 r less cigarettes or ¼ ounce of tobacco. As for electrical or electronic equipment and firearms, dues are taken for these items while subject to refund if they are re-exported within 6 months period from the date of their entry.
Currency The official local unit of a currency is the Sudanese Pounds.
As for foreign currency, there is no limit to the amount currency that could be admitted in Sudan. Declaring these amounts on the port en entry to the authorities is a must to ensure the right of the visitor to take back any amount of foreign currency not exceeding the declared amount.
Since the prices of foreign currencies in Sudan are subject to frequent changes, visitors are advised to know these prices before coming to Sudan.
Credit cards are not acceptable in most places except some of the International Hotels and Airlines.
Time Greenwich +3 summer timing, Greenwich +2 winter timing.