Sudanese culture melds the behaviors, practices, and beliefs of about 578 ethnic groups, communicating in 145 different languages, in a region microcosmic of Africa, with geographic extremes varying from sandy desert to tropical forest. Recent evidence suggests that while most citizens of the country identify strongly with both Sudan and their religion, Arab and African supranational identities are much more polarising and contested.
A Sufi dervish drums up the Friday afternoon crowd in Omdurman.
Sudan has a rich and unique musical culture that has been through chronic instability and repression during the modern history of Sudan. Beginning with the imposition of strict Salafi interpretation of sharia law in 1989, many of the country’s most prominent poets, like Mahjoub Sharif, were imprisoned while others, like Mohammed el Amin (returned to Sudan in the mid-1990s) and Mohammed Wardi (returned to Sudan 2003), fled to Cairo. Traditional music suffered too, with traditional Zār ceremonies being interrupted and drums confiscated . At the same time European militaries contributed to the development of Sudanese music by introducing new instruments and styles; military bands, especially the Scottish bagpipes, were renowned, and set traditional music to military march music. The march March Shulkawi No 1, is an example, set to the sounds of the Shilluk. In northern Sudan different music from the rest of Sudan, is used as a type of music called (Aldlayib) used a musical instrument called (Tambur) are industry manually and has five strings and is made from wood and made wonderful music accompanied by the voices of human applause and singing artists give a perfect blend gives the area Northern State special character.
The most popular sports in Sudan are athletics (track and field) and football. Though not as successful as football, basketball, handball, and volleyball are also popular in Sudan. In the 1960s and 1970s, the national basketball team finished among the continent’s top teams. Nowadays, it is only a minor force.
Sudanese football has a long history. Sudan was one of the four African nations – the others being Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa – which formed African football. Sudan hosted the first African Cup of Nations in 1956, and has won the African Cup Of Nations once, in 1970. Two years later, the Sudan National Football Team participated in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. The nation’s capital is home to the Khartoum League, which is considered to be the oldest football league in Africa.
Sudanese football teams such as Al-Hilal and El-Merreikh are among the nation’s strongest teams. Other teams like Khartoum, El-Neel, Al-Nidal El-Nahud and Hay-Al Arab, are also starting to grow in popularity.
Most individual Sudanese wear either traditional or western attire. A traditional garb widely worn in Sudan is the jalabiya, which is a loose-fitting, long-sleeved, collarless ankle-length garment also common to Egypt. The jalabiya is accompanied by a large scarf worn by women, and the garment may be white, colored, striped, and made of fabric varying in thickness, depending on the season of the year and personal preferences.
A similar garment common to Sudan is the thobe or thawb, pronounced tobe in Sudanese dialect. The thobe is a long one piece cloth that women wrap around their inner garments. The word “thawb” means “garment” in Arabic, and the thawb itself is the traditional Arab dress for men.