Sudanese culture combines the habits, traditions, and beliefs of approximately 578 ethnic groups in an area microcosmic of Africa, with physical extremes ranging from sandy desert to tropical forest, and communicating in 145 distinct languages. According to recent research, although the majority of the country’s people firmly identify with both Sudan and their religion, Arab and African transnational identities are much more polarizing and disputed.
Sudan has a diverse and distinctive musical culture that has been shaped by chronic instability and repression throughout the country’s contemporary history. Many of the country’s most famous poets, such as Mahjoub Sharif, were imprisoned after the installation of strong Salafi interpretations of sharia law in 1989, while others, such as Mohammed el Amin (returned to Sudan in the mid-1990s) and Mohammed Wardi (returned to Sudan in 2003), escaped to Cairo. Traditional music was also harmed, with traditional Zr rituals disrupted and drums seized. At the same time, European armies helped to expand Sudanese music by introducing new instruments and genres; military bands, particularly the Scottish bagpipes, were well-known for combining traditional music with military marching music. Set to the sounds of the Shilluk, the march March Shulkawi No 1 is an example. Northern Sudanese music differs from that of the rest of Sudan in that it employs a type of music known as (Aldlayib) and a musical instrument known as (Tambur) that is made by hand, has five strings, and is made of wood, and produces wonderful music accompanied by human applause and singing artists, giving the region a distinct character.
Athletics (track and field) and football are the most popular sports in Sudan. Handball, basketball, and volleyball are all popular in Sudan, but not as popular as football.
Sudanese football has a long and illustrious history. Sudan was one of the four African countries that created African football, together with Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Africa. Sudan hosted the inaugural African Cup of Nations in 1956 and has only once won the competition, in 1970. Sudan’s National Football Team competed at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich two years later. The Khartoum Competition, which is regarded as Africa’s oldest football league, is based in the country’s capital.
Sudanese football clubs like Al-Hilal and El-Merreikh are among the best in the country. Khartoum, El-Neel, Al-Nidal El-Nahud, and Hay-Al Arab are among the other teams gaining prominence.
The majority of Sudanese people dress in either traditional or western clothing. The jalabiya, a loose-fitting, long-sleeved, collarless ankle-length garment also seen in Egypt, is a traditional Sudanese garment. Women wear a big scarf with the jalabiya, which may be white, colorful, striped, or made of fabric of various thicknesses, depending on the season of the year and personal tastes.
The thobe or thawb, which is pronounced tobe in Sudanese dialect, is a similar garment. The thobe is a long, single-piece fabric used by women to cover their inner clothing. The term “thawb” in Arabic means “clothing,” and the thawb is a classic Arab men’s garment.