April 20, 2012

Beja music website launched

As previously reported here on Adroub.net NEWS a two man band raised $15,000 on kickstarter.com in November 2011. They have finally launched their album of authentic Beja music.

They are based in Cairo, they have booked a few shows to publicly perform their music during April and May, 2012.

You can listen to the tracks from the album online.


UPDATE: May 1, 2012. A review of this album has been posted at the English language Egypt News.
Seen live, Otaak Band radiate an intoxicating energy that simultaneously fogs your brain and tugs at your feet.
For an album that promises to fuse tribal Sudanese music with elements of the blues, "Bejawiya" is a lot softer than either of its supposed influences would suggest.
While the album’s slick sound may be somewhat at odds with the earthiness it seeks to depict, the real flaw is how cluttered the tracks feel, as if the musicians involved were obligated to meet a quota of instruments.
Heard live, "Ogna" is an urgent call, its latter half setting Abuamna’s lovelorn pleas against what sounds like a raging firestorm of despair. On the album, that fire might as well be a single candle, filmed in soft focus.
Otaak Band claim to be a fusion of sounds, but they’re definitely more Beja than blues, and based on the evidence presented in "Bejawiya," should probably stay that way. And until they figure out whether they want to amp it up or tone it down in the studio, you’d be better off catching a live performance than listening to "Bejawiya."

April 18, 2012

Church hopes for justice and peace

 Reverend Thabo, Archbishop of South Africa, and Reverend Deng, Archbishop of Sudan

The call for peace between nations comes from many organizations. The church in South Africa has written to the church in Sudan, to encourage her.
We pray for your country and faithful Christians there.
We also pray for implementation of a real peace between the two countries and the successful outcome of negotiations.
The Anglican Archbishop of South Africa, The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, wrote a letter to the Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan during Easter week.

Unlike the political states which have separated into two countries, the Episcopal Church [Anglican] of Sudan has remained as a single organization, working in both countries.

There has been renewed military action over the past few weeks, as the Sudanese Forces and the South Sudanese Army [SPLA/N] have engaged in various forms of engagement, airplanes have bombed oil well regions, they have been shot down, towns such as Heglig in disputed territories over where the border actually is have been attacked, and then counter attacked. Convoys and military bases have been attacked. Humanitarian aid has been refused. People have left their towns to avoid the confrontations, thus creating a desperate situation to deal with internal refugees. South Sudanese in the north have been expelled from Sudan.

Political statements by leaders have called on national pride. Techniques such as police crackdowns on demonstrations and outlawing certain people have occurred. Bashir has called for mobilization.

A couple of articles analyze the latest difficulties between Sudan and South Sudan.
Sudan: Country Is Waging a Wrong War Against the People of South Sudan

Active Fighting Between Sudan and South Sudan Must Stop to Allow for a Negotiated Settlement of the Conflict

Church leaders follow the revelation of God, the Bible, and their Lord Jesus. Jesus was a peacemaker and interested in reconciling people to God. This means restoring broken relationships. So it's not unexpected that Bishop Thabo finished his letter to the Sudanese Church this way.
May Sudan and South Sudan come to a settlement which will bring lasting peace with justice to both nations and all who live within their borders. And in this, may you and your church be blessed, and be a blessing to others in sharing the sure and certain hope that Jesus Christ has won for us all.
Yours in the service of Christ, crucified and raised to new life for the redemption of the world,
Thabo Cape Town

April 17, 2012

Language resources for To Bedawie

Today, we've got two items for you.

The first is an overview of To Bedawie, written Martine Vanhove. It's a presentation she made to the 7th International Sudan Studies Conference, in April 2006. Fifteen pages long, it's a broad survey of To Bedawie. The title is, THE BEJA LANGUAGE TODAY IN SUDAN: THE STATE OF THE ART IN LINGUISTICS.

Download the pdf.


The second is a grammar written by  a British official in 1928. Tu Bedawie: An Elementary Handbook for the use of Sudan Government Officials was written by E.M. Roper. It's about 135 pages, but some are missing from this scan. See a variety of options for viewing it here.

April 16, 2012

Book about Hadendowa women

Just found this one, though the book was published in 2007...
From the publisher's website...

In the Red Sea Hills of eastern Sudan, where poverty, famines, and conflict loom large, women struggle to gain the status of responsible motherhood through bearing and raising healthy children, especially sons. But biological fate can be capricious in impoverished settings. Amidst struggle for survival and expectations of heroic mothering, women face realities that challenge their ability to fulfill their prescribed roles. Even as the effects of modernity and development, global inequities, and exclusionary government policies challenge traditional ways of life in eastern Sudan and throughout many parts of Africa, reproductive traumas–infertility, miscarriage, children's illnesses, and mortality–disrupt women's reproductive health and impede their efforts to achieve the status that comes with fertility and motherhood.

In Embodying Honor Amal Hassan Fadlalla finds that the female body is the locus of anxieties about foreign dangers and diseases, threats perceived to be disruptive to morality, feminine identities, and social well-being. As a "northern Sudanese" viewed as an outsider in this region of her native country, Fadlalla presents an intimate portrait and thorough analysis that offers an intriguing commentary on the very notion of what constitutes the "foreign." Fadlalla shows how Muslim Hadendowa women manage health and reproductive suffering in their quest to become "responsible" mothers and valued members of their communities. Her historically grounded ethnography delves into women's reproductive histories, personal narratives, and ritual logics to reveal the ways in which women challenge cultural understandings of gender, honor, and reproduction.

The author is assistant professor of women's studies and Afro-American and African studies at the University of Michigan, Amal Hassan Fadlalla. This book was published by the University of Wisconsin Press

It's possible to read much of the book on google preview. 

April 14, 2012

Higher dam at Arba'at?

 Satellite photo of the dam region. Two portions are shown, only one is holding water. At the right edge of the black lake is a two part dam, but there is another dam to the left, with a white concrete spiillway. North is at the top. Water flows from the left side [west] to the right side[east] of the photo. If you click on the photo, you can see numerous earth dams to assist in irrigating fields. Search google maps for more. This location is about 12 miles west of Arb'at, Sudan.

A single source (with an unclear date) has stated that a deal has been signed between Sudan and  a Korean construction company to heighten the Arba'at Dam which is 40 km northwest of Port Sudan.
The report says,
Irrigation Minister Kamal Ali said the dam heightening, to be jointly undertaken by Kim Company of South Korea and Danfodio company of Sudan, will raise water output to 15 million cubic meters, enough to meet the city's daily demand.
The project is estimated to cost 4. 5 million dollars.
National Water Corporation's director, Mohammed Hassan Ammar said during the signing ceremony Monday that the dam would enhance the environment of the region and increase its agricultural output. 

Evidently this plan or a similar one has been in planning stages for many years. In the book, Climate Change and Adaptation Volume 1, [earthscan, 2008] Neil Leary points out that
Heightening of the dam is expected to divert more water for urban use in the capita city of Port Sudan to alleviate severe water shortage during summer time. But increasing water storage in the dam and diverting more water to Port Sudan will reduce the volume of water spillover that supplies the Arbaat community. Potential adverse effects of reduced water supply to Arbaat include reduced cultivated area, displacement of families, spread and invasion of aggressive mesquite trees into fertile agricultural land, and reduced production of food for subsistence and marketing to urban dwellers in Port Sudan. members of the Arbaat community are petitioning the government through traditional and religious leaders to either take necessary measures to mitigate the adverse impact of the project or, preferably, to drop the idea.

SOS Sahel is a non-governmental agency that was working in the coastal region north of Port Sudan. In their 2008-2009 annual review [page4], they commented on efforts to improve farming in areas downstream of the Arbaat dam.
Our work with traditionally conservative and marginalised Beja communities in Khor Arba’at, Red Sea State, has continued to focus on enabling the Beja to take control of their own livelihoods – through direct provision of tools, seeds, and infrastructure, and through training and community development. We have used earth-moving equipment to rehabilitate 24km of water diversion terraces and 5km of the Hanoiet dam in the Khor Arba’at delta. These water structures have enabled rain-fed irrigation of a larger area of farmland, increasing crop production. We have also provided certified seeds and agricultural tools to 318 of the poorest families – typically, those that are female-headed – and training in skills such as the use of fertilisers and pesticides.
Our work with Beja women to improve their literacy and numeracy and their awareness of gender and health issues has resulted in women reporting to us an increase in their status and confidence. We have also observed increased food production, and a shift from traditional crops such as sorghum and watermelon to ‘cash crops’ such as tomatoes and aubergines, which can be sold in Port Sudan; this has provided the Beja women, in particular, with a means to earn income, which they are able to invest in education and healthcare for their families. An unexpected and positive outcome of this programme has been the return of migrants from urban Port Sudan to rural Khor Arba’at, demonstrating that improving rural livelihoods can reduce levels of urban destitution.

Donkey cart carrying pupils to Kissibyai School, Khor Arba'at [SOS Sahel photo - January 2008]

Education in Khor Arba'at, in the Red Sea State of Sudan, is limited. Boys were having to walk many kilometres to get to their nearest school, and there was no school for girls.

In 2006, SOS Sahel UK set up the only girl's school in the area - Kissibyai School - which also accommodates boys in a separate classroom. To help the pupils attend school regularly, and ease the concerns of parents, we organised a local donkey & cart owner to become the school bus. He is paid monthly from families of the pupils. As a result, regular school attendance has been maintained, especially for girls.

April 12, 2012

Three old Beja websites + Bonus!

Here are three sites that deal with items of interest for the Beja people, but they have not been updated for a long time, though they are still online today. If you're interested in the recent history or the poetry of the Beja people, check these sites out.

Mohamed O Ibrahim lives in Canberra, Australia, and posted from 2006 until November 2011 at http://www.dabaiwa.com. He covered news stories and politics in east Sudan. A few stories are in English.

The East Sudan development site offers some documentation of government activities in Arabic. There's a series of 20 photos of a new building on one page... Looks like the site is being hosted on a free hosting service, and was last active in 2010.... 

http://habyaat.blogspot.ca/ is an Arabic language blog based in Canada with entries posted in November 2011. Adroob Huaan posted only eight entries only, covering poetry, stories and proverbs in To Bedawie with translations into Arabic. Includes a few pictures.

BONUS!!!!!    Update, May 2012.
Large forum of specifically BEJA material. Dates 2009, 2010, and 2011. Worth a look.
For Arabic only, or get English language content when you click through below.


April 11, 2012

Birding in the Hala'ib Triangle

African collared dove

Two years ago, a group of bird watchers went to south-eastern Egypt near the border of Sudan to explore the Jebel Elba region. Here's their birding report and some descriptions of their expedition.

“In the Eastern Desert, the mountains rise gradually from west to east to form a dramatic barrier. Amongst the notable mountains is Gebel Elba which because of its unique attributes it is the most important area for flora and fauna in Egypt. It can also be classed as one of the least explored corners of the world but nevertheless is subject to innumerable threats.”

“Gebel Elba is an igneous mountain complex located approximately 20 kilometres west of the Red Sea and rises to a maximum altitude of 1437 metres. The highest peaks act as a “dew trap”, taking the condensation from the clouds that often cover the mountain. The coast curves slightly to the east giving Gebel Elba an unusually broad front to the sea across a 25 kilometre strip of relatively flat land. This enables moist air from the Red Sea to condense on the peak of the mountain to create a “mist oasis”.”

“The area is restricted for foreign visitors, but after long negotiations, Birding in Egypt with the generous assistance of the Ministry of Defence and Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), organised and conducted a preliminary survey of the massif between 3 and 10 of April 2010, with an international ornithological team composed by 6 members, based on their own individual request.”

“We fully understand and applaud the government restrictions in the area due to the highly sensitive environment already affected by the prolonged drought, and have no intention of encouraging tourism of any nature in the region at any time.”

Full report.

April 10, 2012

2 million acres in East Sudan for foreigners

The ministry of Agriculture for Sudan announced that 2 million acres of land in East Sudan will be made available to Saudi Arabia for growing crops for export.

The deal that Saudi Arabia has made with Sudan is very far reaching. The Arabians will be given exclusive control of the land in that they will not pay any taxes on the produce of the land- it is a duty-free zone. Additionally, Sudanese law will not prevail in the area; we assume Saudi law will be honoured instead.

Saudi Arabia imports food from countries such as Argentina and Australia. A programme to grow wheat in Saudi Arabia was abandoned in 2008. They are not able to be self-sufficient for their own food, but they would like to secure their own sources of supply. Saudi funded banks would ensure funds for businessmen who want to operate the farms.

It is not clear where this land is located. We would expect that adequate irrigation is available to grow crops so that would locate it in the Gash Barka delta or Tokar delta regions, or perhaps downstream for the new dams being reconstructed at Setit on the Atbara River.

It is not clear what Sudan gets in return for making this land available.

It is not clear how long the timeframe is for this deal.

It is not clear what impact this project will have on the local Sudanese.

Read the article at AllAfrica.

Ted Turner is the largest landowner in the USA. He owns about 2 million acres, equivalent in size to the island of Puerto Rico. That's about 3,100 square miles.

April 2, 2012

Egyptian Beja protest arrests

Photo and info from

In Aswan Egypt, Ababda Beja have demonstrated in the streets after numerous sheep herders in the countryside east of the Nile were arrested. Apparently they had inadequate personal identification, though they do have permits for raising their animals.

Border guards have declared martial law, and confiscated animals. People from the ababda and albasharet tribes are calling for the provision of proper ID cards for their children, and for proper procedures under the rule of law.

April 1, 2012

PICTURE: an older Bisharin warrior

Sourced from a United Nations World Digital Library. Cairo to Kisimu, by Frank Carpenter. page 220.