Not surprisingly, football is the number one national sport in Sudan too. At the international level, however, the few glorious times were long ago. Sudan was one of the four founding members of the African Football Association at the end of the 1950’s, experienced a thoroughly successful period and crowned it in 1970 with the victory of the African Cup on home soil.
The national team known as “Sokoor al-Jediane” (hawks of Jediane or desert hawks) was able to take part in the African Championships twice in the 1970’s, before a long dry spell of disappointments was only ended in 2008 with another qualification. Here, however, you had to return home after the preliminary round and as the bottom of the group without a point or goal. A ray of hope meant reaching the quarter-finals at the 2012 African Championships in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Sudan has not yet been able to qualify for participation in the final round of a soccer World Cup.
One of the reasons for the mostly moderate performance of the Falcons is seen in the fact that none of the national players play abroad and the players therefore lack international match practice. For participation in the African Nations Cup, however, this fact is beneficial, as this tournament, which has been held in alternation with the Africa Championship since 2014, only allows players who play in domestic leagues. In 2011 and also in 2018, Sudan came third here.
In contrast, the Sudanese clubs in the Sudani Premier League have recently been more successful internationally.
The Omdurman-based clubs Al Hilal and Al Merreikh both made it to the semi-finals of the African Champions League in 2015, but failed in the first and second round in 2016, and in 2017 they did not survive the group games. No Sudanese team reached the group stage in the 2018/2019 season.
These two clubs, whose presidents are among the richest Sudanese, have dominated the Sudanese stadiums for decades and almost always have the championship and the cup among themselves. Al Merreikh Omdurman was very successful from the German trainer in 2008/2009 and 2014 Michael Krüger looks after.
While everything that looks like a ball is used in the country, football in Islamic Sudan remains almost exclusively a male sport. For many years, women’s football only took place in the smallest of circles and behind closed doors, if at all. Selma al-Majadi, who trains Sudanese men’s teams as a woman, will probably remain unique.
Following the social liberalization tendencies at the time of the peace agreement with South Sudan, a fatwa was issued in 2006 by the Sudanese Fiqh Council against the formation of a women’s league. In 2012, the formation of a women’s national team initiated by FIFA was given a fatwa. Women in Sudan are also very limited when they practice other sports.
Other popular ball sports in Sudan are primarily volleyball, but also handball and basketball. In athletics, the middle and long distance running disciplines are particularly important. One of the nationwide idols here is Ismail Ahmed Ismail, who won the silver medal in the 800-meter discipline at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the only Olympic medal for Sudan to date.
According to neovideogames, the Sudanese wrestlers have so far been denied participation in the Olympic Games. Nuba wrestling is traditionally at home in Sudan. These fights are mostly fought on the occasion of seasonal festivals, especially harvest festivals, between neighboring villages in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan.
Since the Nuba got caught between the fronts several times in the Sudanese civil war and have been a target of the Sudanese government troops in the recent past, many Nuba have been expelled from their settlement areas on the border with South Sudan and live in refugee camps and also in Khartoum. For some years now, Nuba wrestling matches have been taking place twice a week in a stadium on the outskirts of the city, and other Sudanese people are also very interested in this.
The Sudanese cuisine is equally determined by African and Arab, especially Egyptian influences. Traditionally in Sudan meals are prepared in “tukul” and eaten separately according to gender. When no cutlery is used, kisra (flat bread) serves as a eating tool. The food and sauces are picked up with small pieces using the thumb and two fingers of the right hand only.
One of the national dishes of the Sudanese is fuul, made of cooked and mashed broad beans(Broad beans), tomatoes, onions, mostly sheep’s cheese, peanut oil (sometimes also sesame oil), coriander and cumin, often with lemon juice. Other vegetables are added, depending on the region. Tamia, the Sudanese falafel, is just as popular. Other main dishes are mulah, meat or vegetable pots (e.g. with rijla, a vegetable similar to spinach), which are usually served with salads, including e.g. eggplant and yoghurt.
Depending on the financial possibilities, lamb and poultry dishes and also the Nile perch serve as additional main dishes.
Also soups not missing on the Sudanese diet. The best known is Chawari, a soup with a slice of sheep or beef, with vegetables.
Peanut and peanut oil play a major role in Sudanese cuisine. In the Arab world, the peanut is also known as Ful sudani – Sudanese bean – and is also used in Sudanese desserts, for example in peanut macaroons.
After or during meals, mainly water is served. To round off a good meal, you should have strong Arabic coffee or black tea that is as strong as it is strongly sweetened (often with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom or fresh mint) or Karkadeh, a tea made from dried, as dark as possible, hibiscus flowers from Kordofan and Darfur, which is fruity taste is often drunk cold. Karkadeh, like black tea, is often sold by women at street stalls. Together with zalabya, a type of Arabic donut that is usually dipped in sugar syrup, a Sudanese fast food breakfast is perfect.
In addition to the many variations of freshly squeezed juices from the popular juice bars and the internationally known soft drinks, local soft drinks are also very popular. During Ramadan, mainly sweet and nutritious drinks are consumed, e.g. Hilumur, which is very complex to prepare from sorghum and 14 other ingredients and takes several days.
Alcohol has been banned since 1983. If you are caught consuming the Araqi date schnapps, or selling alcohol, you face draconian penalties. The Sudanese Minister of Tourism recommended that foreign visitors drink camel milk instead of alcohol.
In the absence of urban nightlife, the slight relaxation in the restrictive licensing of shisha cafes represents a glimmer of hope. However, these are frowned upon in conservative circles and were at times completely forbidden, as the religious guardians of virtue see here a morally reprehensible refuge for the possible gathering of both Genders.
If you are looking for traditional Sudanese cuisine, you will find it mainly at street stalls. As numerous refugees from the conflict regions of the country are staying in Khartoum as a result of decades of conflict and they are also looking for a source of income in the opening of a street kitchen, a stroll through the street kitchens of the capital reveals a varied and unifying culinary experience.
While in Khartoum there are cafes and restaurants with an international menu are available, one looks for more upscale restaurants with Sudanese cuisine mostly in vain. Not least for this reason and to promote traditional Sudanese cuisine, one of the leading food manufacturers in Sudan organized the first “Sudan Traditional Food Festival” in 2015.
The already proverbial Sudanese hospitality has unfortunately not got around everywhere in terms of service in restaurants.
Recommended as a guide through Sudanese cuisine would be the small pocket- sized book “SUDANESE COOKING with Amal Gourashi Kok”, now in its 3rd revised edition from 2012. At the beginning of 2014 this was also published in English.