From Omdurman with love
The sizeable number of Sudanese students in the city have found ways to keep in touch with each other and those from their continent, says M. ALLIRAJAN
THE AUDIENCE at the Ruby hall in the Jenney Club was dancing to the tunes of music - one that Coimbatoreans are not very familiar with.
This was a meeting of students, one was told. But on stepping in, one realised there was nothing academic about it. A few curious-looking students gathered at one end of the main hall where a photo expo was being held and had a glimpse of a culture that had a lot in common with theirs.
The annual get-together of African students celebrated the life of people of Omdurman, a city in central Sudan. African students (largely Sudanese, numbering about 200) in the city participated in the show.
"Many African students have heard about our city. But they do not know much about our traditions. That's why we organised a photo expo and a cultural programme," says Mohammad Hassan, chairman of Omdurman's Sons Family.
"We have many firsts to our credit. Haqiba songs originated from Omdurman and the Mahdi revolution started from our place. We wanted to throw light on all this to others from Africa," he explains.
The guests hugged each other and clapped their hands the African way. Some came in their traditional attire while others chose to wear casual outfits. Though most of the students were from the city, a few from the neighbouring towns too dropped in for the evening programme.
After the hugging session and speeches of dignitaries, it was time for some entertainment. And the cultural show that followed was largely a Sudanese affair. As one of the announcers put it rightly, "it is a home away from home," for the Sudanese. So much so, that you felt like a `complete stranger'.
Even as you sat back wearing a bemused look, students and members from the group tried to explain what it was all about.
The tune-based Haqiba songs of Omdurman kept the students in good cheer. Students from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt and Syria too liked these songs.
The evening show started with a slow Haqiba number, which had most in the audience tapping their feet. The group drama and the skit were truly hilarious.
"Apart from showcasing our culture, the event provides us with an opportunity to interact with students from other African countries," says Osman Hassan, a Sudanese national studying pharmacy in a city college.
"This programme is fun and provides loads of entertainment. After all, it is the only time you get to see so many people from your continent," one of the students said.
"We have been organising such programmes for the past few years.
During this event, we welcome new students and bid farewell to those who have completed their education.
We help students to complete all formalities with regard to admissions," Mohammed Ibrahim Elzain, president of Sudanese Students Association, says.
At the photo exhibition, photographs of war drums, a shield from Ombdurman's battle, the first motorcar of Sudan, bridal wear, a Mahdi soldier's dress and a local boat making facility, were displayed.
Finally, there was a request from one of the speakers.
"Involve more Indians in such shows. Only then will they get to know your culture."
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