Sudan, also known as North Sudan and officially the Republic of the Sudan, is a country in northeastern Africa. That is general knowledge. But being a visitor, a number of things may appear strange, even weird to you. For instance, asking about the welfare of someone with whom you are exchanging greetings.
The Sudanese will greet and ask of your welfare, your business, your family, etc. And they expect you to do same. But there is one family member the Sudanese generally would take offense if you ask of their welfare. You will find out as you read the following 13 mainly weird facts about Sudan.
President: Omar al-Bashir
Currency: Sudanese pound
Population: 37.96 million (2013) World Bank
Government: Dominant Party Federal Presidential Republic
Official Languages: Arabic, English
Weird Facts About Sudan
1. FORBIDEEN WELFARE QUESTION
The Sudanese are generally friendly and have a very formal way of greeting. Great, right? What is weird however is that they expect everyone, even visitors to respond in similar fashion. The host generally inquires about the visitor, his family, his health, and his general well being. Just follow their lead!
2. WELCOME INTERRUPTION
Politeness is a watchword in Sudan…even formal circles. It is not considered impolite for someone to bump into an ongoing conversation, even a business discussion to start and finish his own business and leave, interrupting whatever discussion or conversation may have been going on. Conversation can then pick up where it left off.
3. MALE ORIENTED
Sudan is a male oriented society. Well, nothing weird in that; it is the same in most African societies. However, take a load of this: It is in bad taste for a western man to inquire about a Sudanese host’s wife. Of course, they won’t ask of your own wife’s welfare.
4. SHOULDER TAPPING GREETING
As for the customary greeting upon two men meeting each other, nothing weird in that either. They just shake hands and tap each other’s shoulders at the same time. A hug and rubbing of cheeks may be exchanged between Sudanese ladies and their friends. Expect that.
5. DRINKS AND SNACKS OFFERED
Whenever a Sudanese caller is present, either on business or for social reasons, a drink is always offered. Never turn down or you would be seen as unfriendly. Other than that, some form of refreshment such as potato chips, small pieces of candy, or other small refreshments will also be offered.
6. OFFER, DON’T ASK
If you ever visit Sudan, or a Sudanese visits you, this fact will help you: never ask a Sudanese visitor if he wants such and such. Simply offer it. Weird maybe, but really nice! Sudanese also never ask; they simply offer such things as small cakes, a drink, or other refreshments.
7. TIME YOUR TUMMY
When in Sudan, it is nice to “time” your tummy. When invited to a Sudanese home for dinner, it is the custom to eat at approximately 9:00 or 9:30 p.m. After dinner, tea is served, and very shortly after tea, the visitors take their leave. You will not be expected to stay longer, so don’t.
8. COMPULSORY SECOND HELPING
Sudanese are very concerned about the welfare of their guests. When you visit Sudanese, your total welfare and satisfaction is what they devote themselves to providing. And so they will frequently offer you second helpings of the food. What is weird is that they will insist you take it.
9. A COUPLE NOT ONE
Sudanese are very polite and accommodating people. But don’t take that for granted. An example is when a Sudanese is hosting you. It is essential that you check with your host if your wife is also invited before accepting a dinner invitation. Weird as it may sound, to the Sudanese, you and your wife are not one.
10. LONG WEDDING DANCE
When in Sudan, you might have an opportunity to witness a wedding. Sudanese weddings are times of great festivity lasting several days. The climax of the ceremony is the bridal dancing. This can last until the early hours of the morning.
11. THE ZAR EXORCISM
Again, you might witness another interesting custom called the “Zar”. When a Sudanese, generally a woman, feels that she has been possessed by an evil spirit, her friends get together and hire an exorcist. The exorcist then comes to the family and performs the rite of exorcism. This may appear weird to you, but to them, it is real.
12. HIDE SOLES OF YOUR FEET
Watch your feet when sitting with Sudanese people. It is quite rude for a guest to point the soles of his feet at an Arab. Call it weird, but trying to feel at home might be giving offence. So if you must cross your feet, do so at the knees with one knee on the other, not one foot one of the other knee.
13. BECKON WITH CARE
Also watch how you beckon a Sudanese. When you beckon, don’t do so in the American fashion by crooking one’s finger at anyone. This is considered grossly disrespectful. Instead, you must extend your hand, palm downwards, and motion towards yourself.