2 February 2017

Sudan: A Tour of the Kordofan Countryside Heritage (1)


Khartoum — The customs, traditions and folklore heritage of Kordofan region of central west Sudan derives from the tribal occupations and way of livelihood which are basically dependent on pastoralism. Although the pastoralists vary in accordance with the animals they rear- camels, sheep and cattle- they have a number of factors in common, including affinity, interaction, neighborhood and inter-marriages which made up a unit of cohabitation in the plains, plateaus, hills and valleys and life has therefore become commutative as regards food, water and other living elements.

Camels owners:

Dr. Doleeb Mahmoud Doleeb, a writer and researcher in the Kordofanian heritage in the University of Kordofan and chairman of the Kordofanian Heritage Association, said the "Abbala" are the tribes which breed camels, benefiting from their meat, milk and urine which cure numerous diseases. The famous owners of camels are Kababeesh, Kawahla, Hamer and Shanabla tribes of Kordofan, giving she-camels several names and male camels different names, including "the wind out stripper" which they believe is a Jinn descendent. A camel can stay 45 days without having water and can detect a distant water site, using the smelling sense.

The camel is the backbone of the livelihood of the owners, relying upon it in their settlement and movement, carrying them from one place to another and linking them to others. It has an effect on their life as reflected in the four-fold rhythm of the "Jarrary", a sort of singing accompanying and resembling the movement and composition of the camel. The four-fold poetry points to the four legs of the camel and each of the rhythms of the jarrary accompanies each of the speeds of the camel, ranging from very fast to fast, medium, slow and very slow speeds.

The jarrary is sung by both men and women accompanied by clapping and dancing with the men clapping and issuing deep-throat voices matching with the rhythm of hitting the feet on the ground and the women doing the dancing. Upon hearing a particular tone the dancing woman moves fast to a particular young man and offers him the "shabbal" in which she leans towards that man and places the ends of her hair on his shoulder.

There are two main kinds of jarrary which is characteristic of the tribes of North and West Kordofan - a light one of a swift rhythm which is found with the Kababeesh and Kawahla and others, and the slow rhythm jarrary which is sung by Hamer, Majanin and other tribes. However, there are 59 kinds of the jarrary inspiring delight and exultation with the men singing and issuing the peculiar deep-throat voices.

A famous jarrary song in which the singer longs for a place called Um Badir, in North Kordofan, the home of his love, was sung and recorded by a famous woman singer on the national Radio Omdurman.

The jarrary is sung on different occasions like the wedding and the circumcision parties and various festivals and its subjects range from courtship, love, lamentation, camel description and pride, comparisons between poverty and richness, revenge-taking and other subjects.

A kind of the jarrary is sung when a bridegroom leaves his home and goes to the home of the bride amid a large number of his relatives and the dancing woman offers him the shabbal while he is on the horseback.

The heritage of the camel owners also includes a meeting of the elders of the village or hamlet to have dinner together for consultations on the affairs of the village or for mediation and resolving the problems of their community. Another legacy is known as the "faza'a" in which the young men of the tribe mobilize to pursue robbers for retrieving stolen camels. Other tribes take part in the faza'a in accordance with concluded alliance.


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