Cultural anthropology of Sudan

Anthropology: Sudanese Culture and Social Structure

In the Middle Ages, Arabs referred to what is now Sudan as “Villado al-Sudan” or “Black Country”. The north is predominantly Muslim Arabs, and the south is predominantly African black and non-Muslim. There is a strong feud between the two groups, each with its own Sudanese culture and traditions. There were multiple groups in the south, but their common dislike of the Arabs in the north proved to be a unity between these groups.

An introduction to the Sudanese culture

Performance arts in Sudanese cultureCredit: fanack.com

The capital, Khartoum, is located at the confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile, and together with North Khartoum and Omdurman, forms the center of the city called the “Three Cities” with a total population of 2.5 million. It is also the focal point of governance and economy of the province. Omdurman is the official capital. To the north of Khartoum is the industrial center, where 70% of Sudan’s industry is concentrated.

Language connection

More than 100 different indigenous languages are spoken in Sudanese culture, including the Nubian, Tabeja, Nilotic, and Nirohamite dialects. Arabic is known to be the official language. It is also the most popularly spoken language in the province among the locals. English is being phased out as a foreign language taught in schools but is still used by some people.

Symbolic identity

The flag adopted at the time of independence has three horizontal stripes. The blue represents the Nile. The yellow, for the desert. And for trees, forests and vegetation. This flag was replaced in 1970 by another separate Islamic symbol as an emblem. It consists of three horizontal bands. The red color represents the blood of a Muslim martyr. White represents peace and optimism. The black color represents the people of Sudan and is reminiscent of the Mahdi flag of the 1800s. There is a green triangle on the left edge, which symbolizes both agriculture and the Islamic faith.

The national identity of the Sudanese people

Sudanese people tend to identify with their tribe rather than their country. National borders often do not follow the geographical division of different tribes but spread to neighboring countries. Since independence, northern Muslims have tried to create Sudan’s national identity based on Arabic culture and language in order to subvert southern culture. This proved more disruptive than anger and disunity among many Southerners. But in the South, a common struggle against the North helped unite many different tribes.

Ethnic relations

Over 100 Sudanese tribes live in peace. However, the relationship between the north and the south has a history of hostility that dates back to independence. Primarily, the north and south of the Arabs suffered a move to “Arabicize” their country by replacing the indigenous languages and cultures with Arabic. This conflict resulted in bloodshed and an ongoing civil war.

Architecture and urban planning in Sudanese culture

Only 25% of the population lives in towns and villages. The remaining 75% is rural. Khartoum has beautiful streets and tree-lined avenues. There are also many immigrants from rural areas who are looking for a job and have built slums on the outskirts of the city. The largest city in the south is Juba, near the border with Uganda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has wide, dusty roads and is surrounded by open grasslands. The city has a hospital, a day school, and a new university. Other cities include Kassala, the country’s largest market town to the east. Nyala, to the west. Port Sudan, where most international trade takes place. Atbara to the north. Wad Madani was in the central region where the independence movement began.

The architecture is diverse and reflects the regional climate and cultural differences. In the desert areas of the north, the dwellings are thick-walled mud structures with flat roofs and lavishly decorated doors (reflecting Arab influences). In many countries, the houses are made of fired bricks and surrounded by a courtyard. A typical house in the south is a circular thatched hut with a conical roof called a Gautier. Nomads living across Sudan sleep in tents. Tent styles and materials vary by tribe. For example, Rashiaida uses goat hair and Hadendova weaves a house out of palm fibers.

Food customs in Sudanese culture

A day usually starts with tea. Breakfast is served in the morning or late in the evening and usually consists of beans, salad, liver, and bread. Millet is a staple food and is cooked in a porridge called based or flatbread called Kiara. Vegetables are cooked in stews and salads. Like tapioca and sweet potato, sati is a common side dish of beans cooked in oil. Northern nomads lived on dairy products and camel meat. In general, meat is expensive and not much consumed. Sheep are killed for parties or to honor special guests. The intestines, lungs, and liver of animals are cooked with chili in a special dish called masala.

Cooking takes place in the outer courtyard of the house in a tin oven called Qanun, which uses coal as fuel. Tea and coffee are two popular drinks. The coffee beans are dried and ground with cloves and spices. The liquid is filtered through a colander and served in small cups. Eating habits during the ceremony. At Eid al-Adha, a major sacrifice, it is customary to kill sheep and give some of the meat to those who cannot afford it. Eid al-Fitr, or Ramadan fast, is another fun occasion that includes a big family meal. The birthday of the Prophet Muhammad is above all a children’s party and is celebrated with a special dessert: marshmallows made from pink sugar dolls, nuts, and sesame seeds.

Division of labor

Children following the profession of their parents is a tradition. For most of the population, this means continuing to lead an agricultural life. 80% of the workforce is engaged in agriculture. 10% are in the industrial and commercial sectors. 6% are in government. Furthermore, the unemployed in the province is known to be around 4%.

Social structure in the Sudanese culture

cultural performance in South Sudanese cultureCredit: shopsudani

Northern Sudanese have better access to educational and financial opportunities and are generally wealthier than Southern Sudanese. In the South, many politically influential elites followed Christianity and attended mission schools. The lineage of an individual, i.e. the influence of the family in which an individual is born, holds much say over their class and status. Of the four groups, ironworkers were at the bottom of the social ladder and could not marry people from other classes.

Social classes

Among some southern tribes, the number of cattle owned by the family is a sign of wealth and status. Popular clothing in cities. Muslim women in the North traditionally cover the head and the whole body up to the ankles. These are Tove clothes, the length of the translucent fabric is above the other clothes. Men usually wear long white dresses called Arabia, with hats or turbans to cover their heads. In rural areas, people wear little or no clothing.

Facial scars are an ancient Sudanese culture. It is less common today, but it is still practiced. Different tribes have different signs. It is an expression of the courage of men and the beauty of women. The Shilluk have vertical ridges on their foreheads. Nuer has six parallel lines on his forehead and Jaalin lines on his cheeks. In the South, women sometimes wound their whole body to reveal their marital status and the number of children they had given birth to. In the north, women often tattoo their lower lips.

Weddings and relatives

Traditionally, the wedding was arranged by the couple’s parents. This is still true today, even among the richest and most educated Sudanese. Matches are usually played between cousins, cousins, or other family members, or at least between members of the same tribe and social class. It is normal for parents to negotiate and spouses do not meet before the wedding. In general, there is a big age difference between husbands and wives. Men must be financially independent and able to support their families before marriage.

He must be able to provide jewelry, clothing, furniture, and livestock to certain tribes at affordable prices. In the middle class, women tend to marry after finishing school at the age of 19 or 20. In poor families and rural areas, the age is young. In the past, Polygamy used to be quite common. Divorce is still considered shameful, but today it is more common than in the past. The dowry will be returned to the husband after the marriage is resolved.

Significance of heritage in Sudanese culture

Islamic law provides for the inheritance of the eldest son. Other genetic traditions vary among tribes. In the north, among the Arabs, the property was passed to the eldest son. During Zande’s time, a man’s property (mostly agricultural property) was often destroyed upon his death to prevent wealth accumulation. In terms of fur, the property is usually sold at the time of the owner’s death. The land is jointly owned by a group of parents and will not be divided in the event of death.

Parent group

In different parts of Sudan, the traditional clan structure works differently. In some regions, one clan holds all leadership positions. In other cases, powers were decentralized among different clans and subclasses. Parents are seen through the relationship of grandmother and lineage, but the parental lineage is seen stronger.

Rites in Sudanese culture

Greetings and departures are interactions with religious connotations. All common expressions have references to Allah, understood literally as well as figuratively. We often hear “Inshallah” (“Allah with the will”) and “Alham de Lilla” (“Praise to Allah”). Food is an important part of many social interactions. Tours often include tea, coffee, soda, and even a complete meal. Usually, you can use your right hand to eat from a regular serving bowl instead of using a utensil. In Muslim families, everyone sits on cushions around low tables. Before a meal, give a towel and a pitcher to wash your hands.

Religious views

70% of the population is Sunni Muslim, 25% follow traditional indigenous beliefs and 5% is Christian. The word “Islam” means “obey God”. It shares several prophets, traditions, and beliefs with Judaism and Christianity. The main difference is the Muslim belief that Muhammad is the ultimate prophet and embodiment of God or Allah. The foundation of Islamic beliefs is known as the five elements. The first Shahada is a profession of faith. The second is prayer or salah.

Muslims pray five times a day. Not necessarily in the mosque, the call to prayer resounds from the minaret of the sacred building to the city and the whole country. The third pillar, Zakat, is the principle of giving. The fourth is fasting. This is observed during the annual month of Ramadan when Muslims abstain from eating and drinking during the day. The fifth pillar is the Pilgrimage to Mecca, which is a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that all Muslims must make at some point in their lives.

The cultural significance in the anthropology of the Sudanese Culture

Cultural anthropology of Sudan
Credit: untamed borders

There are no priests or clerics in Islam. Fakis and Shakes are saints who study and teach the Quran of Islam. Far from being a religious leader, the Quran is seen as the supreme authority and has the answers to questions and dilemmas. Muezzin invites to prayer and is also a Koran scholar. In the indigenous Shilluk religion, the king is considered a saint and is said to be an incarnation of the god Nikan.

The animists of Sudanese culture

Native religious animists depicted spirits on natural objects such as trees, rivers, and rocks. Often, each clan has its own totem that embodies the clan’s first ancestor. The spirits of ancestors are said to be revered and influence daily life. Many gods serve different purposes. The native religion is animism, which depicts spirits on natural objects such as trees, rivers, and rocks. Often, each clan has its own totem pole that embodies the first ancestor of the clan. It is said that the spirits of ancestors are revered and influence daily life. Many gods serve different purposes. Specific beliefs and customs vary greatly between tribes and regions. Some southern pastoral tribes give cattle symbolic and spiritual value to cattle that may be sacrificed in religious ceremonies.

Christianity spread to the south rather than the north, where Christian missionaries concentrated their efforts before independence. Most Christians belong to educated classes because most conversions take place in school. Many Sudanese, regardless of their religion, have certain superstitions, such as belief in the evil eye. It is common to wear amulets to protect your physical strength.

Rituals and sanctuaries

The most important observation in the Islamic calendar is the month of Ramadan. This month’s fast is followed by a happy feast, Eid al-Fitr, in which families visit and exchange gifts. Eid al-Adha commemorates the end of Muhammad’s pilgrimage to Mecca. Other celebrations include the return of pilgrims from Mecca and the circumcision of children. Weddings also include large and elaborate ceremonies, including hundreds of guests and days of celebration. The festival begins on the night of henna, during which the groom’s hands and feet are dyed. This was done the next day in preparation for the bride, with all the hair on her body removed and she also adorned with henna. He also takes a smoke bath to add a scent to his body.

Religious rituals are relatively simple. In fact, the spouses themselves are often not present but are represented by male relatives who sign marriage contracts for them. The party lasted for several days. On the morning of the third day, the couple’s hands are tied with silk thread, signifying their tie. Many indigenous rituals focus on agricultural events. The two most important are the rain prayer to promote a good growing season and the harvest festival after the harvest has been brought.

Views on the afterlife in Sudanese culture

Muslims offer their prayers at mosques. There is a laundry service in front of the door because prayer for humility in front of God requires cleanliness. You also need to take off your shoes before entering the mosque. According to Islamic tradition, women are off-limits. There is no altar inside. It’s just an open space covered with a carpeted floor. Muslims are said to pray to Mecca, so a small niche is engraved on the wall to indicate the direction of the city. Among the Dinka and other Nilotic peoples, the stable served as a temple and meeting place.

According to Islamic tradition, death is followed by several days of mourning as friends, relatives, and neighbors pay homage to their families. Relatives of the deceased woman wore black for months or a year after her death. Widows usually don’t remarry and often cry for the rest of their life. Muslims believe that:

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