December 2, 2022

Ramadan Nights Provide Cherished Pause in Tense Sudan

6 min read

Khartoum, Sudan – A love song resounds on Friday night on the banks of the Nile, at the confluence of two great tributaries, a crescent of the earth, a warm breeze blowing over Tuti Island.

Hundreds of people gathered on the beach for Iftar, a sunset meal that breaks the daily fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. There was a clear sense of relief once they ate.

People were sitting in the sand, smoking cigarettes and scrolling on their screens. The children overflowed into the river. Kites danced in the sky. As the Sudanese capital shone on a distant shore, a young coroner sang a song.

“How can your heart allow you to forget me?” Ibrahim Fakhruddin sang, his face bathed in the glow of mobile phones in the hands of his friends, who flared up for the course.

“Tell us what has changed, for love’s sake,” they sang in unison, some touching their hearts, offering a traditional Sudanese song, “Now you just go through us.”

The song was personal to 20-year-old Fakhruddin, who told me he once met a girlfriend on the beach. “It’s over,” he said anxiously. “But the place is still here.” Now he was looking for something else – a respite from the daily grind of Sudan, where the once great revolution had taken place. Running badlyAnd the heady hopes are once crumbling.

“We are here to forget all this,” said Mr. Fakhruddin, who described himself as a frustrated revolutionary. Heat, power cuts, protests. Here, at least we can sing.

For the fasting person, iftar is a daily salvation after long hours of hunger and thirst. In Sudan, this is especially the case: these days, daytime temperatures regularly reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit, about 45 degrees Celsius, and power outages can last up to eight hours.

An ominous political background intensifies privacy. A military coup last October thwarted the democratic transition that began in April 2019 when the mob Omar Hassan al-Bashir was overthrown., Their dictator for 30 years. Now the economy is in shambles, food prices are rising, and about 100 people have been killed in anti-military protests.

But Ramadan is also a time of community, when friends, family and even strangers gather to break the fast. The Iftar meal, which I had been invited to distribute over several weeks in riverside villages, desert huts and suburban streets, also offered a lovely break – an opportunity to explore a moment when many People say that Sudan is flowing dangerously, leaving them uncertain. Next comes.

As we headed back to Khartoum one evening, we suddenly came upon a group of determined-looking men standing in the middle of the road, urging us to stop. But it was not a stack. It was dinner.

At the entrance to a small mansion in the town of Al-Kabashi was a long mat with food plates. About 50 other passengers were already waiting for food. Free meals – Iftar for passing passengers – were sponsored by Hasuba Al-Kabashi, a local businessman and mansion owner.

Mr Al-Kabashi told me that he had made his fortune in the real estate, car dealership and cargo business in Dubai. Now he was returning it. It was a small crowd, he said. He once fed six passenger buses. There was no question of paying a cent to anyone.

“It’s for God,” he said, pointing to the starry sky.

Her guests were not present at the ceremony. After 15 minutes he got up from the meal, said the collective prayers, and continued his journey. We did the same.

When the road was clear, we ran towards Central Khartoum, crossed the Nile on a century-old Basque bridge, and then passed through the gates of the military headquarters where the protesters gathered. To remove Mr. Al-Bashir from power in 2019In scenes of excitement that gave rise to the hope that this revolution could continue.

But now the square is a haunted arena. Military checkpoints were set up on deserted roads. It was painted on the famous revolutionary walls. Only a few fragments of deviant graffiti remain. “We were killed here,” one read.

Further down, in the Chinese-built presidential palace, I met Lieutenant General Ibrahim Gabir, now one of the generals running the country. Army intervention last October He insisted there was no rebellion. “I prefer to say redirects,” he said.

In more than an hour of talks, General Gabier blamed Sudan’s troubled politicians for the crisis and promised to hold elections by July 2023 – an impossible shortfall in holding free and fair elections, according to most estimates. Timetable

The time for Iftar was near. From there I wandered the long corridors of the empty palace. One painting depicts Muhammad Ahmed Ibn al-Sayyid Abdullah, a 19th-century Christian religious leader who led a revolt against British colonialism and trampled enemy fighters under his horse. But when I finally got out, General Gabier was already there, jumping into a car, going home to break his fast.

The traditional Iftar meal in Sudan consists of a rich meat sauce soaked in fragrant sorghum crepes., Shiny pieces of spicy beef sausages, bean stews and watermelon. Food is washed with seasonal drinks – Crabs, Or the juice of iced hibiscus, and a local sweet and sour drink called Abria. But for many Sudanese, it has become an unbearable luxury.

At a fast-paced bakery in Atbara, 175 miles from Khartoum, young people tossed flat bread from an open oven that sold for 50 Sudanese pounds, or about nine cents. Three years ago, each cost 2. This is a resounding issue in Atbara, where student protests are on the rise. Bread prices at the end of 2018. Activated a nationwide movement that eventually overthrew Mr Bashir. But the hunger for revolution has diminished.

“I don’t care anymore,” said Kultam Al-Tejani, a 45-year-old street vendor who pleaded for money to send his ailing daughter to the dentist. “We want food and drink – that’s all.”

Years after Mr. Al-Bashir’s ouster, his allies are still performing at their best, and are slowly returning. This Ramadan, the richest officials can be seen among the Syrian crowds in the elite salon of Al-Salam Hotel, Khartoum. Although the Iftar buffet costs $ 45 per head, it is packed every evening, with women in fine embroidered gowns sitting with men in flawless attire. He rubs shoulders with various foreigners seeking to resolve or take advantage of Sudan’s political turmoil – diplomatic envoys, Russian mercenaries, aid workers and UN officials.

Iftar is also meaningful for revolutionaries fighting the war. On April 6, on the third anniversary of Mr. Al-Bashir’s ouster, protesters filled the street outside Al-Salam. This time it was not a love song but a sting in the hot air.

Benefiting from months of protests, young men and women rioted and clashed with police, burning tires and emitting thick smoke. In front, some protesters wearing ski masks and garden gloves hurled tear gas shells at police.

Although I stepped back, my eyes hit the cloud of tear gas that flowed down the road, and I stumbled to the side of the road. The muezzin’s voice came: Iftar.

The sloganeering was over and the food bags were ready. Protesters marched around a crab filled with dates, sandwiches and paper cups. A woman wrapped in a Sudanese flag offered to share her food and a cloth soaked in vinegar to hold back my tears.

Others leaned on the curb, chewing water and enjoying a moment’s relief, as more tear gas could be heard in the distance.

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