The Lion, the Hyena and the Fox

This is a retelling of a famous Sudanese folktale from northern Sudan. The three characters were much maligned in the past due their prey on livestock. Hunted down as “vermin”, the only place that most of us can see them today is behind bars at the zoo in Khartoum North.

The Lion, the Hyena and the Fox.
There was once a lion, a hyena and a fox who agreed to go hunting together. Continue reading


Farewell to winter.

Alas the winter is coming to an end here in the Khartoum. The bright sunny mornings with a nip in the air will soon depart as February gives way to March. All too soon the blinding heat of the Sudanese summer will arrive in April. After that a fierce sun will beat down relentlessly all day and every day scorching the sandy streets and burning the flat zinc roofs. Relief from the stifling heat only then comes in August with the sudden violent thunderstorms that pierce the night’s sky and send a torrent of water to miraculously green the savannah once again.

Sudanese Proverbs (part 3)

الايدو في النار ما زي الايدو في الموية.


al iidu fil naar ma zeey al iidu fil mooya.

Putting your hand in the fire is not like putting it in the water.

Sometimes we criticize or consider people actions or reactions to a certain situation as wrong or improper. These actions might be the outcomes of the effects imposed on them by the circumstances of the situation or the ordeal they are passing through which are different from those of the person who is criticizing them.

الخيل تجقلب والشكر لحماد.

al kheel tajaglib wash shukur li Hammaad.

The horses run, prance and gallop about in the battle field but when victory is won, Hammaad gets the praise. (Hammaad was one of Abdalla Jamaa’s sons and was the leader of the Abdallaab district.)

The Shrewd Ewe: a Sudanese folktale

Here is the first of several folktales that I hope to publish on this blog.

The Shrewd Ewe

by Muna Zaki

“Sheep?” said the young man incredulously. “I’ve heard of a clever camel, a crafty fox and even an intelligent elephant but never a shrewd sheep!”
Before him, sitting on a thin strip of matting, was a poor wandering dervish who had arrived in the village just before sunset. The stranger gave the young man a long intense look before replying, “You will notice from the patchwork on my old jibba that not all pieces of cloth are alike. So it is with animals, and I know a story from the days of long ago that will confirm to you what I have said.”
At the prospect of a story, more youngsters gathered around the dervish. A lamp was lit and when the dervish saw that his audience was ready and waiting, he began his tale.

Continue reading

A Friday morning stroll in Khartoum (part three)

Before leaving the grounds of the Republican Palace Museum, I cast my eyes for a moment on the immense structure of the new Presidential Palace with its imposing arched entrance and domed roof. A little further up the road is Nimeiri’s monument to national unity and the Shuhuda gardens – a square with some sad memories. Continue reading

A Friday morning stroll around Khartoum (part two)

At first glance the newly widened Nile Avenue Road looks like a pleasant place to continue a Friday morning stroll but look again and there is no escaping the signs forbidding pedestrians, rickshaws and horn blowing. A short detour can be made easily enough by turning left at the old Public Works Department, a building whose roof tiles seem ironically to be in a constant state of sliding off.
At the end of this short road, I turn right into one of the most beautiful tree-lined roads in Khartoum, Gami’a Avenue. The first building on the right hand side used to house the NCO’s mess while a little further on there is a barracks that still houses the Republican Guards. Opposite them is an orange cubic building that used to be the Khartoum Club.
More aesthetically pleasing though is the fine sandstone building of the former Anglican Cathedral of All Saints that now serves as the Republican Palace Museum. Continue reading

A Friday morning stroll in Khartoum (part one)

Early Friday mornings are the best time to explore central Khartoum free from the manic driving and impatient horn beeping that can test the nerve of even the most carelessly shuffling jaywalker.

My occasional Friday morning stroll usually starts not far from my home in Khartoum North, an industrial and residential area that sadly lacks a public river side walk of its own.  I cross the Blue Nile Bridge that vibrates alarmingly as buses, lorries, cars and the occasional train trundle across it. Strangely the oldest bridge in Khartoum still takes the strain while the modern Mak Nimr Bridge is reserved for lighter private cars. But this 1910 steel construction still looks reassuringly solid even if the wooden path for pedestrians (and animals) has wobbly planks. Apparently at one time the middle span lifted for river navigation but it hasn’t done so since at least the 1950s and its hard today to see exactly how it ever unlocked itself. Continue reading