Customs and traditions
As in all Muslim cultures, hospitality is an
almost compelling virtue in Sudan. A foreign guest has
good chances of being invited to a Sudanese family.
The greeting As-Salaam Aleikum and a
handshake initiate most meetings with a Sudanese. It is
polite to at least address at first meeting those who
meet with a title, such as the generally respectable
uztaz (for men) or uztaza (for women),
followed by the first name.
Then you get to know what conversation topics can be
appropriate and not get too personal early in an
acquaintance. If the person you are talking to belongs
to the opposite sex, it is advisable to keep some
physical distance, maybe a meter away. A foreign visitor
should not display strong feelings in public, and in
embarrassing or awkward situations it is advisable to
turn your gaze down and avoid direct eye contact.
Overview of the capital city of Sudan, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Food, meals and clothing
Sudan's vast geography and the many ethnic groups and
diverse cultures make food management vary within the
country. The eating habits have also taken inspiration
from outside, not least from the Ottoman (Turkish)
empire that brought with them, among other things,
peppers and garlic. In the east, the influence of Yemeni
and Ethiopian food is noticeable.
Meals are generally taken around a communal tray with
bowls from which you eat collectively - traditionally
with your right hand. Meat and vegetable pots are
scooped up using bread or solidified porridge. Wheat,
millet and sorghum are the most common cereals for both
bread and porridge. The most common bread, casserole,
is baked on sorghum or corn flour.
Soups are included in most meals, such as
elmussalammiya which consists of liver, dates,
spices and flour. Kawari is cooked on sheep or
cook leaves together with vegetables and spices. A
common dish is foul, which is cooked on beans
and served with accessories such as bread, eggs or
vegetables. Gut is also popular, preferably cooked with
strong pepper. A meal usually ends with tea or coffee,
usually very sweet and brewed with spices such as
cardamom, ginger or cinnamon.
Traditionally, Sudanese women cover as much of the
body as possible. Outside of the usual clothes, they
wrap themselves in a thin, colorful fabric called a
tobe, similar to an Indian sari. Men's traditional
attire is a long, white garment called jallabiyah.
The head is always covered, usually by a large, white
turban. Western clothing is relatively common in the
Strict gender roles
Society is usually strongly gender segregated. Men
and women live different lives with carefully regulated
tasks. However, among the highly educated in the cities,
these rules have started to loosen up.
A marriage is usually the parents' thing. Even in
well-educated families, it is common for a couple not to
meet until the wedding. After that, the young couple
usually move into the woman's parents' home, where they
stay at least until they have their first child. Then
they set their own living but mostly stay close to their
Weekends and holidays
Most festivals are linked to the Muslim faith. Id
al-fitr, which ends the fasting month of Ramadan,
is, as in all Muslim countries, the most important and
joyous weekend, devoted to family gatherings, gifts and
good food. The sacrificial feast (id al-adha),
when animals are slaughtered, is another great event.
Important events within the family are also celebrated,
for example when receiving a pilgrim who visited Mecca.
A purely secular weekend is Independence Day on
Two UN officials are ordered to leave Sudan
The UN coordinator for humanitarian efforts and the UNDP's local chief are
accused by the government of "insulting" the country and expressing
"preconceived opinions" against the government.
ICC investigation of war crimes in Darfur is closed
The ICC chief prosecutor says the court's investigation into war crimes in
Darfur must be closed down, as the UN Security Council has failed to arrest
President al-Bashir and three other co-accused. al-Bashir calls the ICC's
decision a victory for Sudan, adding that the Sudanese people refused to kneel
before the "colonial court". In addition to al-Bashir, Sudan's defense minister,
interior minister and a militia leader stood accused.
Immersed in corruption
The organization Transparency International ranks Sudan as the world's third
most corrupt country in 2014.
Unamid is asked to leave Darfur
The Government calls on the AU / UN force to close its human rights office in
Khartoum and prepare its exit from Darfur. The government's relations with the
peace force have been strained since the government was accused of preventing
Unamid from investigating information about a mass rape in Darfur (see further
General elections are announced
The Election Commission announces that presidential and parliamentary
elections will be held in April 2015.
Millions need urgent help
The UN says nearly seven million people in Sudan are in urgent need of
assistance for their livelihood. In Darfur, an additional 300,000 people were
evacuated between February and April, while refugees were flowing into the
country from South Sudan, where mutual fighting is being fought.
Al-Mahdi is released from detention
The Umma Party's treason-accused leader Sadiq al-Mahdi (see May 2014) is
released, but it is unclear if the prosecution was dropped. It is also unclear
whether the Umma Party intends to resume national dialogue with the regime.
The regime is criticized by the United States
According to the United States, the regime has escalated the conflict in the
Blue Nile and South Kurdufan by deliberately targeting its armed attacks against
the civilian population, including by bombing schools and hospitals.
Elite strength surrounds Khartoum
The same elite force (Rapid Support Forces, RSF) that al-Mahdi should have
criticized is stationed around the capital on the orders of the military
security service. Nothing is said about its mission. Earlier, the UN force
Unamid and the EU ambassador have also expressed concern over the actions of the
elite force in Darfur.
Opposition leaders are accused of treason
Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the Umma Party, is arrested and charged with
treason. Al-Mahdi is said to have "insulted" a military elite by accusing it of
abusing the civilian population of Darfur. The Umma Party interrupts its
participation in a national dialogue that President al-Bashir is trying to
initiate. Al-Mahdi was Sudan's last democratically elected prime minister and
was deposed in 1989 in the military coup that brought al-Bashir to power.
Opposition to the opposition
The government is preventing the newly formed opposition party Movement for
Reform now (see December 2013) from holding a meeting. The chair of the party's
student movement is arrested according to party sources. A week later, President
al-Bashir issued a decree banning political parties from holding meetings
without prior permission.
Al-Bashir meets al-Turabi
the 13th of March
President al-Bashir holds the first official meeting with Islamist opposition
leader Hassan al-Turabi in 14 years. Al-Turabi was perhaps the most powerful man
of the regime during the 1990s (see Modern History).
SPLM-N's highest leader receives the death penalty
Two of the rebel group SPLM-N's top leaders are sentenced to death in their
absence: President Malik Agar, former governor of the Blue Nile and presidential
candidate in 2010, and Secretary-General Yasir Arman.
New political alliance is formed
Twenty-eight political movements with strongly changing directions form the
new Alliance National Movement for Change. The Alliance says it wants to create
a debate about the future of Sudan and tear down the walls between secular and
New negotiation attempts in Ethiopia
Representatives of Sudan and South Sudan begin a new attempt at negotiations
in Addis Ababa with the AU as mediator. The goal is to resolve the many
conflicts between the countries that have been going on for three years and have
had serious consequences for over a million people. The AU gives the Sudanese
government and the SPLM-N a 30-day time limit to make peace in the Blue Nile and
The Red Cross is thrown out
The International Red Cross Committee (ICRC) is suspended from working in
Sudan. According to the al-Bashir government, the ICRC "conducted activities
that violated its mandate under international law and the agreement with the
Sudanese state". The ICRC has primarily worked to facilitate prisoner exchanges
in Darfur, but has also provided humanitarian assistance in troubled areas.