Thousands of members of Sudan’s Nuba community turned out the Sudanese capital’s twin city of Omdurman Saturday for dancing, singing and poetry in a festival showcasing the culture of their conflict-stricken people.
The Nuba hail from South Kordofan state’s Nuba Mountains but thousands have migrated to Khartoum, fleeing conflict and poverty in their long-marginalised region.
Crowds in brightly coloured print shirts and Sudanese robes clapped and cheered on as dancers kicked dust into the air as they performed to traditional Nuba lyre music and poetry.
“When we celebrate here like this, we want to show the world that we’re asking for peace,” said student Natalina Yaqoub, crowned the Nuba Mountains beauty queen.
The Nuba Mountains Cultural Heritage Festival took place to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which took place on August 9, and was the third they have held.
The Nuba were embroiled in the 1983-2005 civil war between the Arab-dominated Khartoum government and southern rebels.
South Kordofan was plunged into conflict again in 2011 when former mostly non-Arab insurgents mounted a campaign against President Omar al-Bashir, complaining their region was still marginalised.
Many who attended the festival were Nuba born in Khartoum whose families fled the fighting, and who had grown up far from the culture of the Nuba Mountains.
Poets speaking the various languages of the Nuba peoples gave readings and brightly dressed bands representing different areas in the mountains played to rapturous applause.
“This celebration is a manifestation of our resilience; we want to maintain our culture,” said Guma Kunda Komey, a Nuba academic and author, who had been taking part in the dancing.
The conflict between government forces and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North still simmers in South Kordofan.
Amnesty International said last week the army had committed war crimes in South Kordofan, including bombing and shelling civilian areas and infrastructure.