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Every year there are celebrations for the Birthday of the Prophet Mohamed. The actual date varies because the Islamic festivals are dated according to the lunar calendar. This year the holiday was 15 February 2011. We decided to take the grandchildren to the area beside the Mahdi’s tomb and the Khalifa’s mosque in Omdurman. Similar venues are held in Khartoum and Khartoum North.
The different religious sects erect tents and flags where their followers can sit and listen to the chanting and watch the dervishes as they get carried away by the songs of praise. This is very interesting to see as they sway and move to the beat.
Crowds of people- men , women and children congregate to watch the world go by- the men in white jellabias, dervishes in green, police in blue and women and children in their best clothes together make the scene bright and colourful. Some of the tents have fairy lights or tinsel. Salesmen have spread their ways on the ground- prayers beads, religious books, inflateable plastic toys and balloons.
On the perimeter outside are stalls selling the traditional Mulid sweets : garish pink sugar brides, knights on horseback, tanks, cats, some decorated with paper frills. The sweets are made of sesame seed, coconut, candy with peanuts or chickpeas, and Turkish delight. These activities begin some time before the actual day, so on the eve of the holiday it becomes very crowded indeed. We made sure we arrived early and left at sunset.
Updated Feb 15, 2011
Because Omdurman was not planned as a city, it is difficult to find your way around. To me it is like a rabbit warren- little areas walled off yet hiding a complex of houses. Streets have features known in Middle Ages Europe- runnels down the streets to take off waste water from washing courtyards, washing clothes etc. Building materials make the narrow roads even narrower and dangerous.
Walking can be hazard especially at night and if there has been rain.
I went one morning after there had been rain. The streets were uneven and slippery from the mud. Luckily I had taken a crutch with me, or might have fallen and broken my not-yet mended leg again.
Written Aug 6, 2009
Football is the most popular sport among Sudanese men.
There are two main rival clubs, both based in Omdurman: Hilal and Mereikh.
Hilal’s colours are blue and white : a white crescent moon [hilal] on a blue background.
Mereikh has a red star [Mars] on a yellow background.
Both stadiums are in Arda district, central Omdurman, and divided by Arda road. The stadiums were built in the 1960s but have undergone renovation since then. Matches are very popular and tickets vary in price according to where the spectator sits .
The other Omdurman teams are Muwrada and Tahrir.
International matches are usually held in the National Stadium in west Khartoum near the Sudan University.
A new Sports Centre has been built in south Khartoum near Africa University.
When there is a match between the two rival clubs, the supporters of the winning side take to the streets shouting, blowing whistles , and drive through the streets proclaiming their victory. Normally this is all very peaceful.
Updated Oct 3, 2008
Address: El Arda ,Omdurman