The Kababish of Sudan
A cluster of 5 Kababish speaking groups from Sudan.
The Kababish dar (territory) is located in Northern Sudan. Like other nomadic Arab tribes, the Kababish wander the desert with their herds, searching for vegetation that grows after the rare desert thunderstorms. They have a complex system of migration, in which different parts of the family move to different places during certain times of the year.
The Kababish raise all types of livestock, which are traded for grain and other essentials such as salt, tea, sugar, cloth, dates, seasoning, and metal goods. Camels are the most important of their animals. They provide milk, a main diet staple for the nomads; occasional meat; material for tents; and transportation across the desert.
What are their lives like?
While the Kababish men move across the desert with their camel herds, the women and children stay home in the dikka. The women tend to the gardens and the small boys work in the fields, herding house camels and preventing goats and sheep from entering the cultivated land.
Kababish children are sent to herd animals almost as soon as the can walk. They have been described as shy and reserved, even with each other. Perhaps this is a reflection of the harsh life they live.
Because life in the desert is very dangerous, all of the Kababish men wear sheathed daggers on their left arms. Most carry swords, and all carry either shotguns or rifles. They must sleep lightly at night to protect themselves and their tribes from bandits. Their main diet consists of tea mixed with camel's milk. If one of them has the good fortune of killing an animal in the desert, they will also have meat to eat. Each man carries a canvas sheet that has many purposes. The canvas can be used as a ground sheet, a tent, a trough for watering animals, or a sling for carrying heavy items such as loads of hay.
Before the 1960's, the number of livestock a tribe owned was limited by the accessibility of water. At that time, the government drilled new wells, enabling the livestock to flourish and the herds to increase. Unfortunately, the pasture lands could no longer sustain the large number of animals. Diminishing rainfall has destroyed the pastures. Many of the herdsmen have lost their livestock and have been forced to move from their homes.
What are their beliefs?
One of the five "pillars" of Islam is that a Muslim must pray five times a day. However, among the Kababish, some pray only when they feel like it, while others never pray at all. Water is scarce, so the cleansing rituals are either cut short or ignored completely, and sand is used in place of water.
Since very few of the Kababish are able to read or write, many consider the written word a source of magical power. Fakis, or holy men, make charms and sell them to the tribesmen for cash or livestock.
What are their needs?
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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