Towns Of North Kordofan State

Thu, 19 Oct 2017

   North Kordofan State includes towns of Al-Ubayyid, Al Rahad, Bara, Umm Ruwaba, Al Simaih, Hamrat Al Sheikh and Sudari as shown in Table 3.

                                                             Map 3: Location of the Towns- North Kordofan State


                                    Source: Sudanese Public Survey Authority, 2017- Researcher's work


Al Rahad

Umm Ruwaba


Sources and references


Town of Al-Ubayyid:

Town of Al-Ubayyid is located in a wide plain with much underground waters and, therefore, it is an area of intense population and the capital of North Kordofan State (Al Sadiq, 2008). Also, the town is an old administrative, trade and service center, given that it is the greatest one of all Kordofan towns and the historical capital of the grand Kordofan province where financial and service institutions are founded. Historically, Al-Ubayyid played an important part during eras of Turco-Egyptian rule and Mahdist State where Shaikan battle was fought by Mahdist armies against Turco-Egyptian government which was then lead by Hicks Pasha. Al-Ubayyid is connected with Khartoum by a railway and an asphalted highway besides the town airport which connects airports of Darfur States with the national capital, Khartoum. Also, town of Al-Ubayyid is an area of commercial exchange for western Sudan where its rural areas are famous for production of crops like millet, groundnuts, sesame and gum Arabic besides a greatest souk of cattle in the town, particularly of the Hamari sheep. Moreover, it is a center for manufacturing industries and refining of petrol (Salih, 2016).

Emergence and development of Al-Ubayyid:

Al-Ubayyid is located in the middle of Kordofan and Sudan. The town lies between the desert region in the north and savannah region in the south and, thus, it became a crossroad of both directions and a center for attracting herders from the north and farmers from the south. Since its emergence, Al-Ubayyid had been a dispute arena between kingdom of Sennar to the east and kingdom of Fur to the west. Later, Al-Ubayyid began to be urbanized in Turco-Egyptian era as a result of administrative and political developments the Sudan had then experienced. Through time, Al-Ubayyid had maintained its administrative and trade status as a biggest town in Kordofan region during the different consecutive administrations in the Sudan (Al Gaddal, 2002).

In the Turkish regime, town of Al-Ubayyid emerged as an administrative center on the heels of the campaign launched by Mohammed Bey Defterdar in 1821. Ironically, on the demise and removal of the Turkish rule by Imam Al Mahdi forces, Al-Ubayyid became the capital of the Mahdist State whence the Mahdist armies set off to overrun the town of Khartoum.

Al-Ubayyid location in the middle of the province has some positive impacts as a center for administration of the province since such site is one of important reasons for selection of administrative towns. On another hand, location of Al-Ubayyid in an agricultural area rendered the town one of the important centers for collection of agricultural production in addition to its communication with a number of Sudanese and Egyptian towns through caravans’ road and via railway line. Again, this communication qualified the town to be one of collection center of agricultural products, particularly from Darfur and Bahr EL-Ghazal. Also, there is the urban feature of Al-Ubayyid which began as a simple town and, more advantageous, the town has alienated tribal disputes and in so doing it could develop and kept afar from tribal sensitivities.

Al-Ubayyid had witnessed important developments when its inhabitants stood against the Condominium rule, created the national clandestine societies and participated in Gordon College student Protest which revived the national movement fuelled with intellectual schools, national newspapers and literary journals. All this progress brought about political parties whose opinions became contentious against constitutional institutions which British administration of the Sudan had established. Consequently, the Sudanese people could conduct the first parliamentarian elections in the Sudan in order to select the first Sudanese parliament in 1954 (Madibbu, 2014).

Economic activity:

  1. Agriculture:

Agriculture is the main occupation for most inhabitants of Al-Ubayyid. The cultivation here depends on annual rains which determine the type and distribution of cultivated crops.

British administration did not develop the traditional rain-fed agriculture around the town nor did it promote means of production since the administration was not concerned with agricultural guidance or with service of advances and financing or other services which could have supported agricultural production in the district, for instance no much effort attempted for improving production of sorghum.

Inhabitants of Al-Ubayyid have practiced cultivation of crops which they are accustomed to farm on guz land. In Al-Ubayyid area where sandy soils prevail, the following crops are cultivated:


As an important type of food oil grains, sesame is widely marketed at the domestic level in order to meet the needs of humans and local consumption. Moreover, sesame is ranked fourth to cash crops on which Sudan depends for acquiring its revenues of foreign currencies (Madibbu, 2014).


This yield is particularly cultivated in sandy lands in areas lying around the town of Al-Ubayyid. There is about 50% of Kordofan production of groundnuts brought to Souk Al-Ubayyid where there are crop souks and food oil squeezers.

Melon seeds:

Melon is cultivated among other crops like millet. It is an important commodity which is exported to Arab Republic of Egypt while it is ranked ninth to Sudanese exports. On another hand, both hibiscus and senna are considered as secondary crops but they are important crops for trading and exportation.

Gum Arabic:

Sudan is the greatest producer and exporter of gum Arabic in the world while town of Al-Ubayyid contributes with more than 50% to Sudan production of this commodity which generates a yearly respectable income and provides labour for many Sudanese people in the countryside.

In addition to those crops, vegetables like eggplant, mulukhiya, okra, etc are cultivated besides fruits of lemon and orange (Madibbu, 2014). Also, Al-Ubayyid area is famous for baobab trees, i.e. Tebaldi, which is used as a symbol of Kordofan region.

  1. Pasturing:

As an occupation, pasturing comes next to agriculture. It is practiced by some inhabitants in town of Al-Ubayyid where diverse animals are reared in the town suburbs including cows, sheep, goats, camels and horses, etc. Due to this huge livestock, trade of animals was activated in Al-Ubayyid, especially with Egypt which had imported great quantities of camels. However, like other trade of products, trade of livestock had been affected by the Second World War but when the War was over, the trade was resumed.

Al-Ubayyid is a crossing point for nomadic tribes, particularly for camel herders, and an autumnal resort for these tribes on their journey from north to south while passing on to penetrate into South Kordofan seeking for water and pasture. On their way back from the southern region, in the rainy season, these tribes come across Al-Ubayyid. so, Al-Ubayyid and surrounding villages are autumnal resort for tribes of Baggara, particularly for those who spend the rainy season near the town (Madibbu, 2014).

  1. Trade:

Inhabitants of Al-Ubayyid deal with trading where there is a greatest and more prominent crops souk as shown in photo 23. Globally, the crops souk of Al-Ubayyid is highly esteemed as world cash crops are marketed in it, for example gum Arabic, hibiscus, oil grains like groundnuts. (Al Sadiq, 2008). Also, there is a big souk in Al-Ubayyid, namely Souk Abu Gahal in which the rest of other products are marketed as shown in photos 23 and 24 .

                                                          Photo 23:  Crops' Market in Al-Ubayyid town


                                                                               Source: Fieldwork, 2017

                                                                   Phot0 24: Market of food matrials


                                                                              Source: Fieldwork, 2017


Industrial sector of Al-Ubayyid depends on manufacturing industries and on light industries which themselves depend on the local agricultural products of the State. These industries involve squeezers of sesame and groundnuts, soap industry, factories of peeling of groundnuts, factories of grinding of grains, factories of dairy products, factories wood cutting and furniture in addition to cars maintenance workshops and industry of bodies of cars and vehicles (Khojali, 2003).


Al-Ubayyid is one of towns which are famous for numerous kinds of handicrafts such as making of anaqreeb and banabir “singular anqaraib and banber respectively” and other manual products. These handicrafts depend on the different raw materials like leathers, wools, hairs and palm fronds, all of which are available in addition to multiple tribes and mixing with West African tribes, the factor which helps transfer mutual cultures, skills and crafts. Furthermore, there is cleaning and freighting gum Arabic and industry of bricks and lime materials (Madibbu, 2014).

  1. Oil:

There are petroleum reservoirs in the town, as shown in photo 25, and an oil refinery constructed in 1997 with a daily production capacity of 10000 barrels. In 1999, the daily production capacity was increased to 15000 barrels of crude oil which had been carried to the refinery by railways from Heglig oilfields in Al Wuhda State, Southern Sudan, which produce naphtha and kerosene (Khojali, 2003).

                                                                                      Photo 25: Oil Tanks


                                                                                     Source: Fieldwork, 2017

Social structure:

Al-Ubayyid social structure consists of numerous tribes mixed and melted in each other, the factor which resulted in many mutual customs and traditions such as folkloric dancing, for example al-Mardum Dance as shown in photo 26.

                                                                               Photo 26: al-Mardum Dance


                                                                                     Source: Fieldwork, 2017

Similarly, social structure is coherent, coexistent and multi-religious as adjacency of mosque and church proves it and reflects it in photo 27

The following are the tribes living in the town of Al-Ubayyid:

  • Al Bidairiya: ancestrally, this tribe is ascribed to the Abbasid group which entered the Sudan in early 14th century through the northern entrance of the land. While journeying along the Nile, the ancestors at last settled at places located between the Gawabra and Shaigiya where they established Kingdom of Dufar, a state of Funj Kingdom. The main home of this tribe is the Old Dongola but this kingdom was aggressively sabotaged and destroyed by the Shaigiya. Then, in the 16th century, the tribe was divided into two groups, one of which travelled along the Nile and settled near Berber and nearby the Rubatab while the other one headed westwards from Dongola to Jebel Rikab where two branches resulted from this latter group, a branch settled in Kordofan around Al-Ubayyid and the second branch took westwards to Darfur.

The Bidairiya are intensely prominent in the middle of Kordofan and had a recognized part in events of Turkish and Mahdist eras when, lead by their leader Abdel Samad Abu Safiyya, they stood by the Mahdism. Statistically, the Bidairiya pose the majority of inhabitants of Al-Ubayyid and many of them practice cultivation and trade (Madibbu, 2014).

  • Al Gawamaa:

The Gawamaa immigrated to the district in the 16th century and they are divided into two parts in Kordofan, Al Humran and Al Gimaiyya. The number of the tribe was increased while, cashing in on gum Arabic forests, they became wealthy. On advent of the Mahdi, the Gam’ie Al Manna Ismail was assumed to besiege Bara which he could subdue. Later, under the Mahdism, the number of the Gawamaa was reported to have been reduced to one sixth of their original number in Kordofan. During the Mahdism, there were famous trade centers in their district like Umm Dhafira and Umm Damm as well as food oil squeezers in the era of Khalifa Abdallahi.

  • Al Ghidayyat:

Ancestrally, this tribe is ascribed to Gaali pedigree and its members settled north to the Nuba districts and south to Bidairiya’s. In the beginning, the Ghidayyat extorted the area of Jebel Kordofan from the local aboriginals of Nuba and settled in it. During the Sennari era (1405—1821), leaders of this tribe had controlled Kordofan and they attributed themselves to the Funj sultans. Aided by sultans of Sennar, during the expansionist era of the Funj, this tribe had assumed reins of hegemony while in the era of Mahdism, a segment of their sons participated in besiegement of Al-Ubayyid and the tribe played a great part in undermining the Turco-Egyptian administration.

  • Inhabitants from  the Nile:

Called (Sons) of the Nile are Al Shaigiya, Al Ja'alin, Al Danagla and Al Mahas who immigrated to Al-Ubayyid from the villages lying at banks of the Nile and they became a prominent element in political and socio-economic life of both region of Kordofan and Darfur. These riverine tribes were compelled to immigrate by numerous reasons like political unrests at the Nile and economic problem caused by the narrow agricultural lands at both banks of the Nile.

  • Al Shuwaihat:

Al Shuwaihat tribe is belong to Shuwaih ibn Bidair, namely they are sons of Abdel Rahman Abu Shaih ibn Samra ibn Sirar ibn Hassan Kirdam. Specifically, the Shuwaihat are a branch of the Gaali group and they had been at the White Nile. During the Turkish rule, the Shuwaihat settled in the quarter of Al Qubba, in town of Al Ubayyid, under leadership of Abdel Hadi Sabr while some of them live with the Ja'alin at Al Mutmar village and others live Jebel Al Tagris and Jebel Shuwaih. Noticeably, Al Shuwaihat have founded relations with the Bidairiya (Madibbu, 2014).

  • Al Musabaat:

Al Musabaat had a relation with the Kaira who founded the Fur Sultanate. During the period of building and development of the Fur Sultanate by sultan Suleiman Sulung, some emirs of the Kaira suzerainty, who had aspired to ascend the throne but lost civil wars, were obliged to immigrate to the east of Jebel Marra, i.e. to Kordofan where Al Musabaat were rallied around their leaders in an attempt to build their force and realize their purposes.

  • Al Daju:

Al Daju are of Nubian origins which were mixed with African elements in Darfur region in the 16th century. Then, they penetrated in Kordofan and they were merged with the Nuba and some Bidairiya Arabs.

  • The Mowaladeen:

The Turco-Egyptian invasion of Al-Ubayyid brought a group of Turks and Egyptian fellahs. These groups interacted and intermarried with the local tribes to beget the Mowaladeen, i.e. hybrid race, who became one of the effective population components in the town and played a noticeable role in socio-economic fields.

  • Al Hawawir:

Al Hawawir are ascribed to Al Hawara tribe which grew in Morocco and immigrated to Egypt. Their origins belong to the Yemeni clans of Gudha’a and, thus, they are closely related to Guhaiyna and its tribal branches including the Kababish (neighbours of Al Hawawir). One of Al Hawawir offspring is al Gallaba Al Hawara who left nomadic life and practiced trading. It is worth noting that many religious scholars and righteous men in Darfur and Kordofan belong to these Gallaba Hawara (Madibbu, 2014).

  • Al Fallata:

In the common terminology, the term “Fallata” is uttered to mean whoever emigrated from West Africa in general and from Nigeria in particular including the Hausa, Fulani, Barnu and Bargu. However, this group poses approximately 30% of Al-Ubayyid population (Madibbu, 2014).

  • The Nuba:

Characteristically, the Nuba are almost Negroes. They are not homogeneous yet they speak different languages since Arabic language entered their land and Islam spread among them and themselves are mixed with Arabs. Notwithstanding their bodily features and efforts of churches, the Nuba were melted in the Arab milieu in the town of Al-Ubayyid.

  • Al Barnu:

Their habitat is the Islamic territory of Barnu. They were produced as a mixture of Arab, Barber and Negro bloods. The Barnu immigrated to Darfur as individuals and hordes while a throng of them came to Al-Ubayyid. Historically, the Barnu had a part in foundation of Funj Kingdom and in supporting the Islam and promulgating its jurisprudence as they built mosques and khalwas. Likewise, their religious scholars supported the Mahdist Da'wah with their fatwas and they were involved in the jihad (Madibbu, 2014).

Important geographical and historical landmarks:

Town of Al-Ubayyid includes a number of geographical and historical landmarks, the more prominent of which are the following:


Al-Ubayyid Prison had been a huge building of jaloos since the era of Turkish rule. The prison was located south to the main souk of the town and later, in 1950, relocated to north of the town.

Shaikan Museum:

The museum lies south east of the town. It was inaugurated in 1965 in commemoration of Shaikan Battle and it includes antiquarian, ethnographic and historical property (Al Sadiq, 2008). As well, the museum contains two show halls with another hall added as a permanent fair for heritage of the town.


The railway reached the town of Al-Ubayyid in 1912. Nearly forty years ago, the area of the railway had marked eastern frontier of the town. Beneficially, the railway has prominently promoted administrative and trade status of Al-Ubayyid and rendered the town an important urban center in Kordofan region.

Post Office:

Al-Ubayyid post service had been utilized in the 19th century when the post office was established inside the Province building. At that time, the post messages had been carried on animals when post workers were then known as Haggana, i.e. camelry or camel men. Thereafter, in 1956, the post office was relocated to its current place.


The Province is located south east of the town, in the middle of the administrative area (today’s Ministry of Finance). It was built in the 17th century and it posed an important fort for the town in the period of Mahdism. Now, the Province is considered as a prominent antiquarian and historical monument in the town.

Jebel al-Hashaba:

Jebel al-Hashaba lies south of the town and it is about 16 meters high. The Jebel consists of black and red granite stones while there are circular and slightly high stony heaps on the northern summit of the Jebel. These stony heaps might have been a signal to post-Merowe graves though the hypothesis will only be settled when archaeological works are carried out, i.e. a whole survey in the area (Bashir, 2011).

Fulat al-Masareen:

It is a natural deep Fula surrounded by the qumbeel trees. Historically, at this Fula, armies of Hicks Pasha, were ambushed and annihilated to a man to the extent that the magnitude of blood changed colour of water into red.

The Mahdi prayer place:

The Imam Al Mahdi used this place for doing his prayers and leading armies. Close to and west of this place the sahaba’s graves, as called by natives, are located. The Mahdist leaders, who were martyred in Shaikan battle, were buried in these graves.

Graveyard of Hicks Pasha’s soldiers:

This graveyard is about 5 kilometers away from Al Mahdi’s prayer place. It contains a number of graves in which leaders of Hicks military campaign were buried.

Plaque of the death of Hicks Pasha:

This plaque is fixed about nearly 500 meters away from the graveyard of Hicks Pasha’s soldiers. The plaque contains a Tebaldi tree called tebaldiya of the Bruji, i.e. tebaldiya of the Trumpeter, and two memorials of stone as follows: The first memorial is the point where Hicks fell down from the top of a tebaldi tree which he resorted to when he was stabbed by Ahmed Al Badawi Abdallah al-Shuwaihi (17 years old), and the second memorial is the point where Hicks Pasha was killed.

Shaikan Gate:

This Gate was erected in 1983 by the then regional governor, Al Fatih Bishara, who had governed Kordofan under President Jaafer Nimeiri. The Gate marks the frontiers of Shaikan historical battle (Bashir, 2011).

Examples of the town dignitaries and personalities:

Ismail al Wali:

He was born in Al-Ubayyid in 1793. Mystically, Ismail al-Wali was apprenticed to Sayyed Mohammed Othman Al Mirghani al-Khatm in 1816 but, after close relations with Sammaniya tariqa in the Sudan and with Sayyed Mohammed Othman Al Mirghani, Ismail broke away to create his own Ismailiya tariqa in the town of Al-Ubayyid. Being highly cultured, He wrote forty five books and he assiduously focused on promulgation of Islamic Dawa in Nuba Mountains. Noticeably, his Ismailiya traiqa is the only one Sufi tariqa of Sudanese origin and whose branches spread out in other parts of Sudan. Al-Wali died in Al-Ubayyid in 1906. His grandson is the Sudanese leader Ismail Al Azhari.

Mekki Ismail Shantut:

Shantut was one of the three knights who established and sponsored non-governmental native education in the town. He also founded Shantut schools in 1938. The second knight was William Naseem who founded William Naseem schools and, later, the Nahda School in 1939. The third one was Zain Al ‘Abideen Al Tayeb, the first headmaster of Al Mu’tamer School or the Native Intermediate School.

Ustaz Mekki Shantut was born on 2/1/1918 in Al Qubba Quarter, town of Al-Ubayyid, and brought up in khalwas of his father Ismail Shantut and then joined official education (East Al-Ubayyid kuttab and AL Qubba kuttab). After that, he joined elementary education in the Amiriyya School, the then only one school for Provinces of Kordofan, Darfur and White Nile. Shantut continued his education till he performed the Civil Secretary Exam and began seeking for a job and so he joined the clerical field of military service where he was promoted to Block amine.

Later, he joined Bakht al-Ruda Institute in which he spent a three year study period, after which he returned to Al-Ubayyid and worked as a teacher in the Eastern Al-Ubayyid Kuttab for six months. Then, he left government work though he was again involved in the same field of education but this time in Shantut School.

However, ustaz Mekki Ismail Shantut was the godfather of the private education in all western provinces, no matter what these provinces are called today. So, he became one of the important dignitaries of Al-Ubayyid (Ahmed, 2004).

Wad Abu Safiyya:

His tomb is located east to graveyards of Dalil al Mahasi and south to Al Qubba neighbourhood in which faki Kintaish is buried. Close to the grave of this faki and inside one of the two rooms, Ahmed Al Badawi Wad Abu Safiyya is entombed and he is adjoined, in his sepulcher, by Mohammed Al Tahir, Ahmed al-Kinani, Mohammed al Sughayir and Abdel Samad while buried in the other room is Musa Abdallah Wad Abu Safiyya. Near the tomb and shrines is the so-called Fulat Wad Abu Safiyya.

Ahmed al-Faki Kintaish:

He was born at Abu ‘Uruq, North Kordofan, in the Turkish era. He was taught Quran and religious jurisprudence by Sheikh Siraj and, then, he was summoned by the judge Othman Arabi, one of the more prominent figures of the Gallaba Hawara tribe in Al-Ubayyid, in order to teach the latter’s sons the Quran and Quranic instructions. During the Mahdist Revolution, Kintaish immigrated to Omdurman but, on downfall of Omdurman, he returned to his village, Abu ‘Uruq. Later, Sheikh Taqi asked him to come to Al-Ubayyid to found a khalwa there and thereafter this khalwa became the famous Taqi Mosque. Kintaish died in Al-Ubayyid and was entombed in a dome in the graveyard of Wad Abu Safiyya (Ahmed, 2004).

Also, of other dignitaries of Al-Ubayyid are the nazir Zaki al-Din, Mirghani Hussein Zaki al-Din and the poet Mohammed Awad Al Karim Al Qurashi.

Neighbourhoods of the town:

Town of Al-Ubayyid includes a number of neighbourhoods, some of which are the following:

  • Fariq Al Qubba, i.e. the Dome Quarter:

This neighbourhood was named after the dome of the pious Sheikh Ismail al-Wali. In it, the second school of boys and first school of girls were established at the level of the old Town.

Inside this quarter, there is the well known tree, Aba Sarur Tree, which is a large Heglig tree (balanites aegyptiaca) under which funeral prayer is performed. Also, this tree is one of the prominent Sufi significances of the House of Sheikh Ismail al-Wali and it is a main station for the Nuba. Additionally, there is a known balanites aegyptiaca tree named after the Mahdist leader Mohammed Khalid Zugul, i.e. Zugul Tree. To the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, there is a famous gingerbread tree (Hyphaene thebaica) known as Tree of al-Sayyedah Mariuma bint al-Sayyed Al Mahjoub. Also, in the eastern part of the quarter, there is the Coptic Church.

  • Fariq Fur or the Dinariya:

Elders of this neighbourhood abide by their Ansari creed, i.e. Ansar Imam Al Mahdi. However, Fariq Fur or the Dinariya (currently Al Istiglal neighbourhood) is one of the more famous quarters of the town.

  • Radif neighbourhood:

It is one of the oldest quarters of the town. The word “Radif” is an acronym of the English phrase “Retirees of Defence Forces” who completed their military service in Sudan Defence Force (Camelry—now Fifth Infantry Brigade).

Concerning sports, sons of the Radif neighbourhood established the Al Mawrada Club, which has been standing for many years at the top of the football pyramid in the town. The neighbourhood includes souk Abu Shara, one of the more famous souks in the town, which is named after the righteous man, Yusuf Abu Shara besides Abu Shara Mosque or Suleiman Abu ‘ied Mosque. Similarly, the neighbourhood includes a number of schools, health centers and other service establishments which are indispensible for the inhabitants of the quarter and neighbouring quarters (Ahmed, 2004). 

  • Al Maasir neighbourhood:

This neighborhood had once been similar to production area and only little number of workers used to live at the maasir, i.e. food oil squeezers, while owners of these oil squeezers used to only remain in this area till sunset.

  • Dibagha neighbourhood:

The landmark distinguishing this neighbourhood is the Falcon Cultural Social Club (Abu ‘Anja Club).

  • Al Nazir neighbourhood:

It was such named because it had hosted the nazir Zaki al-Din Court which had been charged with administration of justice for the old town and its rural areas. In the past, the neighbourhood was called Hai al-Mahkama, i.e. the Court Neighbourhood (Ahmed, 2004).

  • Other neighbourhoods of Al-Ubayyid are Al Bitrul, Abu Shara and Al Mairam.

Prevailing names:

Concerning names, town of Al-Ubayyid is affected by the Ismailiya tariqa (ascribed to Sheikh Ismail ibn Abdallah al-Wali) which involved a system of dignitary names in wide parts of Kordofan in general and in Al Qubba neighbourhood in particular. These proper nouns are Ismail, Azhari, Mekki, Bakri, Mustafa Al Bakri, Bahi, Al Taj, Mirghani and Hanafi. So, if you come across a person called Al Taj Mekki Ismail, you should be 80% sure that this person is attributed to Al-Ubayyid if not to neighbourhood of Sayyed Mekki in Omdurman (Farah, 2009). As to names of women, they are Fatima, Aisha, Hayat, Asiya, Zainab, Mariam, Al Surra, Laila, Buthaina and Taiba, the two latter of which are ascribed to those emigrating from the Nile Valley (Al Shahir, 2017).

Important roads:

  • Al Nuhud Street.
  • Suwar Al Dahab Street.
  • Al Matar Street.
  • AL Mantiqa Street.
  • Zareebat ‘al Mawashi Street.
  • The Ring Road leading to El Fasher (Al Shahir, 2017).

Town of Al Rahad:

Emergence and development of Al Rahad:

Al Rahad is one of the vast pastoral areas which the Baggara lent it the assonant appellation of “AL Rahad Abu dakana, al-miskeen ma sakana” (Omer, 2017). This appellation means that Al Rahad which is of misty aura, a poor has not lived in.

Town of Al Rahad lies in North Kordofan State and it is about 379 km (235.50 miles) away from Khartoum and 30 km (18.64 miles) away from Al-Ubayyid. The town is a main railway station connecting eastern, central and western Sudan and, regarding resources, it is the second largest locality in North Kordofan following Shaikan locality.

During the Mahdism, Al Rahad area witnessed a resistance movement against Turco-Egyptian rule. Lead by Sheikh Al Manna Abu Al Batool, one of the Gawamaa tribe leaders, the resistance movement occupied the Tayyara merkez before heading to town of Bara and defeating its military garrison, occupying the town and cut off supplies way between Khartoum and Kordofan. In so doing, town of Al-Ubayyid was overthrown by Imam Al Mahdi in 1883 and Al Rahad received some Mahdist Ansar and jihadists. Also, the Sharif Mohammed Al Amin Al Hindi was entombed at Al Rahad where his sepulcher is found there.

Economic activity:

About 80% of Al Rahad inhabitants practice agriculture, horticulture and pasturing where area of agricultural lands is estimated to be about 1.2 million feddans and the soil varies from clay to sandy soil. Both food and cash crops are cultivated, namely maize, hibiscus, groundnuts besides fruits and vegetables like mango, guava and lemon which are marketed in the crop souk. Moreover, fishing is practiced in the turda.

There is an active industrial sector in the town, especially in food industries and food oil squeezers with related production of food oils, soaps and tahini sweets (Abdallah, 2017).

Social structure:

The Gawamaa tribe represents the majority of inhabitants in the town in addition to other tribes like Baggara, Fallata, Nuba and a few tribes of northern Sudan like Ja'alin, Shaigiya and Danagla. In the past, there was a Yemeni community in Al Rahad but, thanks to discovery of petrol and improvement of situation in Yemen, that community returned home. These tribes coexist in a coherent social structure in Al Rahad (Abdallah, 2017).

Important geographical and historical landmarks:

  • The Turda of  Al Rahad Abu Dakana:

Locally, the turda means a permanent water body. It is a natural flat pond lying between two sandy hills with clay soil and it keeps up rain waters for a period and then gets dry and well are dug in it. Later, some engineering modifications were carried out on the turda and so its waters become permanent. The turda is semi lake but of small magnitude but the designation of the turda is old that the town derived the name of Rahad from this turda. The area where the turda of Rahad Abu Dakana is located is of sandy hills but the turda water resources are formed in clay wadis and Khors of mixed soils.

Human activities, especially rural economy systems of agriculture, pasturing and fishing, are concentrated around this turda with its water resources since it is enjoyed with fertile lands, permanent surface waters and abundant underground waters, particularly during periods of drought and aridity. Generally, the area is a land crossroads whether they are asphalted or dirt roads or railway besides that Al Rahad is located in the middle of areas of abundant agricultural and pastoral production in addition to some light industries (Mohammed, 2002). 

In the past, in the period of ‘sixties of last century, the turda had been a recreation area, to which recreation journeys from Al-Ubayyid, Umm Ruwaba and Al Simaih were organized besides the inhabitants of the town themselves. Aesthetically, some horticultural gardens for production of lemon and guava are arranged along the beaches of the turda.

  • Khor Umm Tagarger: in addition to Khor Abu Habil, this Khor is a more important water source that feeds the turda since a canal was opened out of it in the ‘sixties of last century.

• Dome of Sharif Mohammed Al Amin Al Hindi (sepulcher).

• Dome of Sheik Ahmed Al Badawi.

• Dome of Sheikh Abdel Gabbar (Abdallah, 2017).

Examples of the town dignitaries and personalities:

  • The late Nazir Al Tayeb Haroun and today his son, the emir Haroun Al Tayeb Haroun, emir umum of the Gawamaa tribe.
  • The late umda Kubur Adam and today his son umda Esa Kubur Adam.
  • Sheikh Ahmed Al Badawi, sheik of Tiganiya tariqa in Al Rahad and imam of the old mosque and manager of his own khalwa for teaching Quran in Al Rahad. He was succeeded by his son, the late sheikh Hussein Ahmed Al Badawi, while now Sheikh Ahmed Al Tigani Al Badawi is the caliph of Tiganiya tariqa.
  •  The late Abu Zaid al-Buluk, a philanthropist, who established the first food oil squeezer in the town with other businesses.  
  • Ibrahim Al Imam, senior trader (in charge of souk).
  • Sheikh Yusuf Rahamtallah, Sheikh Suleiman (a sheikh responsible for collecting duties on real estate, i.e. atabani) and the late sheikh Malimeih (sheikh of Fallata).
  • The late Sheikh Al Murad (a guarantor of cattle sellers at cattle souk) and now his son as a heir sheikh.
  • Al Haj Hassan Tabir (guarantor of the Shanabla and other nomadic tribes at cattle souk).
  • The late Mohammed Ali Al Bakri (sheikh of butchers in Al Rahad) and his son Ahmed al Gur.
  • Othman Abu Saif (now a sports reporter for Sudan Radio).
  • The late Siddig Al Hassan (Al Sahafa daily reporter).
  • The late Abu Al Gasim Mohammed Ibrahim (Al Ayyam daily reporter).
  • The late Khaleel Hamid Khaleel (a parliamentarian for the district constituency).
  •  Abdallah Khaleel (a parliament representative).
  • Al Tayeb Abdel Wahid (the town representative to the State council), (Abdallah, 2017).

Neighbourhoods of the town:

  • Al Ban Jadeed (currently divided into Al Ban Jadeed sharq and Al Ban Jadeed gharb).
  • Al Radif.
  • Daim al-Udham (currently ‘Umara neighbourhood).
  • Al Kuz neighbourhood (Hai Al Shati’, i.e. Beach Neighbourhood).
  • Sharq al Souk.
  • Fallata Neighbourhood.
  • Hai al-Buluk (Prisons Barracks), (Abdallah, 2017).

Famous names:

Most names are related to names of the prophet Mohammed and also to Holy Names of Allah and names of prophets. on another hand, names of women are related to names of the Prophet wives, wet nurses and daughters in addition to names related to religious rites and rituals and religious towns (Mecca, Al Haram, Arafa, Marwa, etc).

  • Abbaker is a name known among Fallata tribes (Abdallah, 2017).

Important roads:

  • Shari’ Al Ramad: it is a dirt macadamized road to alleviate vehicles being blocked in sands.
  • Highway shari’ to town of Al-Ubayyid: it is an asphalted road (Abdallah, 2017).

Town of Umm Ruwaba:


Town of Umm Ruwaba lies in the eastern part of North Kordofan State. Geographically, it is contained by latitudes 14°-- 12° 10´ north and the longitudes 31˚ 40´-- 30° 25´  East and, thus, it is located in the poor savannah belt with annual rains ranging between 200-400 mm. town of Umm Ruwaba is bordered by locality of Bara to the north, by localities of Kostai and Al Duweim to the east, by Rashad locality to the south and by Shaikan locality to the west. Its area equals 1800 square km and it consists of five administrative units (Mohammed, 2002).

Emergence and development of Umm Ruwaba:

Emergence of Umm Ruwaba dates back to the year 1912 when the railway was extended to Al-Ubayyid. At that time, the administrative merkez of East Kordofan was at Tayyara village which is still remaining as a village. Tayyara is nearly about thirty km away from Umm Ruwaba to the north west. It is one of locally known villages since the lorry road leading to Al-Ubayyid had passed through it, namely Tayyara road which was in parallel with Umm Gazira road, both of which had been used by vehicles before the asphalted highway leading to Al-Ubayyid was built.

Town of Umm Ruwaba grew and developed thanks to its location on an underground river known to geologists as Umm Ruwaba Rocky Formations (extending from the White Nile to Jebel Marra in Darfur).

In 1939, Umm Ruwaba eastwards to the field separating the town from the intermediate school, northwards to hillat Fallata and the graves which were known as al-faki Nali and southwards to the squeezers which had occupied the current site of the industrial area and on to the railway station. However, the town had remained with limited services till early ‘fifties of the last century and a small town as the number of its population had not exceeded 7805 persons, out of whom there were 3904 male persons and 3901 female persons according to the first country census of population in 1955—1956 (memoirs on the map of ‘umudias—Khartoum, 1958). Then, the town started growing and thus it had witnessed expansion and diversity of public facilities like schools, hospitals and industrial area which includes machinery squeezers of food oils, cinema house, sports clubs, electricity station, corporations for deliverance of waters and forests and other governmental directorates besides banks, re-planning and renewing of the souk and building of crops souk.

Owing to changes caused by application of the educational methodology and due to connection of the town with TV transmission and telephone communication, housing and occupations and activities had expanded to create new neighbourhoods and, consequently, the number of its population reached 42.584 persons according to 1993 census (Al Sammani, 2007). Yet, the number of population of the town reached about 56.833 persons in the last population census in the year 2008 (Central Statistics Bureau—the fifth population census, 2008).

Social structure:

First inhabitants of Umm Ruwaba had been immigrants from other places of the country and they began living in the nascent town with the original people of the area, namely the Gawamaa tribe. These immigrants can be classified into four different categories according to different rationalizations of their immigration:

  • First category: immigrants coming from northern and central Sudan, namely those coming from Halfa, local Danagla of Bara and Al-Duweim, the Gaafra of Al-Duweim, the Dawalib and Rikabiya coming from Bara and Al-Ubayyid, immigrants from Shaigiyya district, other races from Berber and neighbourhoods, the Ja'alin district and others from Khartoum and Omdurman with their neighbourhoods besides others coming from Gezira.
  • Second category: inhabitants of Al Dinariya quarter, of Sultan Ali Dinar’s sons and their followers mixed with inhabitants of Al Radif quarter, some of whose origins are attributed to the campaign of invasion of Sudan under leadership of Kitchener.
  • Third category: a group of Baggara who came down from villages lying south of Khor Abu Habil such as Al Ghaba, al-Saisaban, al-Habubiya and Faj al-Hala.
  • Fourth category: the Fallata, among whom the Hausa group is dominant. The members of this category, notwithstanding living in a private quarter, have interacted with other races of the town and become a part of their structure, thanks to relationships created by the souk factors.
  • Other elements: including races like Yemenis, Greeks, Copts and Indians (Al Sammani, 2007).

Important geographical and historical landmarks:

  • Tali Well: It is an artesian well dug by an Italian khawaja called Tali, after whom the well is named and has for long remained known by this name. The well which is located south to the Police Center had been run by steam and firewood and its water is fresh and clean. To make use of this well water, hanging pipes were designed for filling akhraj, i.e. water skins, as the water skin, locally khuruj, is designed to take in six tins of water. Similarly, there are pipes laid on terraces for filling tins of water. Additionally, small kiosks of water were built along with central stations of water, for instance a station built on the house debris of the late Dafaallah Al Zain and the currently Zakat chamber, opposite to al-Hilal club. Waters of Tali Well reach these stations through large pipes and the people used to take water from these stations by means of water skins, tins, packets and big bowls. One of the famous workers who had worked at this station was a Sudanese southerner called Wad Al Kak and the famous official was the known poet Hadabai. However, the station continued operating till early ‘fifties, after which the second phase was implemented to distribute water from water network to all houses and in consecutive time periods (Towns and Landmarks of Sudan, 2012).
  • Umm Dam area: it is famous for fruit orchards like guava, lemon and orange. The area is characterized by its moderate weather and it poses a natural resort for inhabitants and visitors for organizing their outdoor journeys on days of official vacations, Eids and events of jubilations.
  • Umm Ruwaba railway station: since the year 1912, Umm Ruwaba railway station has stood at its current place, around which banyan trees were implanted. Umm Ruwaba is a dual station for wagons of commodities and passengers when time arrival of trains had been astonishingly punctual as a train coming from Al-Ubayyid used to reach the town at sharply 11:00 am, while a train coming from Khartoum reached Umm Ruwaba at exactly 2:00 pm. At that time, trains had come from Khartoum on Saturday and Tuesday and from Al-Ubayyid on Sunday and Thursday. Later, trains used to daily come back-to-back whether from Khartoum or from Al-Ubayyid. Noticeably, every passenger train had then been accompanied with two wagons, one for luggage and the other for vegetables. As to commodity and animal trains, their number was increased according to harvest season in western Sudan (Towns and Landmarks of Sudan, 2012).

Examples of dignitaries and personalities:

  • Administrators:
  • Hassan Hamu who assumed the office of general director of prisons.
  • Hussein Hamu who assumed the office of general commander of police.
  • Hassan Mohammed Al Amin who held the office of general commander of camelry.
  • Nasr Al Haj Ali who assumed the office of vice-chancellor of Khartoum University.
  • Allam Hassan Allam who assumed the office of Khartoum commissioner.
  • Babikir Awad Baja who became a general manager of movie photocopying in information/ Omdurman (Towns and Landmarks of Sudan, 2012).
  • Financial offices:
  • Mammon Bihairi who assumed the portfolio of Ministry of Finance.
  • Ibrahim Hassan Allam who assumed the office of undersecretary of pre-independence Ministry of Finance.
  • Othman Amin Suwar Al-Dahab, the known economist and academician (Towns and Landmarks of Sudan, 2012).
  • Ministers:
  • Minister engineer, Mekki Al Manna, under Ibrahim Abboud regime.
  • Minister Abu Bakr Othman Mohammed Salih under President Jaafer Nimeiri regime.
  • Regional Minister Mirghani Abdel Rahman Haj Suleiman under President Jaafer Nimeiri regime.
  • One of famous personae, who graduated in town of Umm Ruwaba, whether through official education or religious khalwas, was the known politician, D. Hassan Abdallah Turabi and Salah Abdel Salam Al Khalifa Abdullahi al-Ta’aishi.
  • Likewise, Umm Ruwaba prepared and qualified engineers, physicians, officers, aviators, merchants, businessmen, literary men, intellectuals, teachers, etc. (Towns and Landmarks of Sudan, 2012). 

Economic activities:

  • Cultivation of crops:

Sandy soil, known as guz, prevails in lands lying north of and around Umm Ruwaba. The main crops cultivated in this soil are sesame, millet and maize along with crops of domestic consumption like waika, cowpea and melon. Besides the once prevailing guz lands, inhabitants of the town cultivate clay lands at Khor Abu Habil for production of fatarita and maqad. But, because this latter kind of lands is difficult to deal with, traditional farmer used to cultivate few areas of it and only the Fallata are capable to treat these clay lands.

  • Pasturing:

Along with cultivation of crops, most families in the town rear goats and cows to get milk (some families used to sell their surplus of milk while others used to make ghee and curdled milk and sell some of it).

Industry: industry of food oil (camel squeezers and mechanized machines):

Basically, this industry has depended on camel oil squeezer which had spread in the town. Here, the main crop squeezed is sesame in addition to groundnuts, cotton seeds and sunflower. It is worth noting that melon seeds and desert date seeds (lalob seeds) are sometimes squeezed for production of oil when crops get scanty (Abu Zabad oil squeezers were a case in point when 1984 drought struck the area).

In early ‘sixties of last century, traditional food oil squeezers disappeared to have been replaced by food oil mechanized machines. anyway, disappearance of traditional oil squeezers is attributed to deterioration of natural resources, particularly areas of grazing lands around the town which had been indispensible for storing fodders needed for squeezer operating animals, specifically camels. Another reason for desertion of traditional squeezers is operation of a number of mechanized oil squeezers with low processing cost and high profitable returns.

  • Local industries:

Leather tanning: this industry depends on local tanneries which used garadh, i.e. fruit of acacia nilotica, and lime as basic materials (industry of leather shoes, water skins for carrying water, jurabs and qarfas for keeping and carrying different items, saddles of animals, sheaths of knives and swords and sheathing amulets).

Industry of tar: it is extracted from melon seeds, packed in potteries, burnt in ovens known as gimair and used in treatment of scabies-infected camels and goats. Also, tar is utilized in tanning hides. 

  • Making threads by cotton spinning: this sort of industry is especially done by elder women.
  • wood industries: the more important of which are making of anaqreeb, i.e. wood beds, and banabir, small wood seats in addition to some cultivation tools (handles of axe and turiya or complete equipments such as saluka, hoe and midgag).
  • Industries depending on palm fronds: these industries include mats, rugs and gufa baskets, etc and some of these handicrafts are brought from Nuba Mountains and Northern State like mats and gufa baskets. 

Furthermore there is: pottery, different works of blacksmithing and jewellery made of gold and silver.

Of industries introduced into the town for some time and then disappeared were tahini and lakkum sweets, soap and cheese which remained for generations (Al Sammani, 2007).

Neighbourhoods of the town:

Town of Umm Ruwaba includes numerous quarters as follows:

  • Adeeb neighbourhood:

In relation to the five neighbourhoods of the town, Adeeb is the greatest one and it includes a number of small quarters which people of Umm Ruwaba call fariqs. These places are named after follower sheikhs of Sheikh Mohammed Adeeb and here they are: fariq Abu ‘Isha, fariq Gabr al-Dar, fariq Khalid Zakariya Ali Dinar, besides Officials Quarter, Police Quarter, Post Quarter, Al Dinariya Quarter and fariq Al-Harr, Al Radif, Sabaq Raqad and Siniyya Quarter. The important landmarks in this neighbourhood are water central station, court of Sharia Judge, court of Gawamaa nazir umum, yet this neighbourhood includes no any school.

  • Hamu Neighbourhood:

It lies east to Adeeb Neighbourhood and extends from the cultural club street to the east up to north of Al Maasir neighbourhood (food oil squeezers operating by camels), i.e. the current site of Al Hilal club. The main landmarks in this neighbourhood are the northern school, girls’ school, wabur Haj Othman Mohammed Salih, George wabur (currently Al Kubbani oil squeezer). This neighbourhood includes a number of small quarters like Hai al-Souk, Hai Al Dawalib, Hai al-Halaba and Hufrat Hamu (Towns and Landmarks of Sudan, 2012).

Hai Atrun:

Its full name is Hai Ibrahim Atrun. It lies east to Hai al Baqir from which it is separated by Lung Street (Hospital Street). In this neighbourhood, houses of the following families are located as follows:

  • Ibrahim Haj Ahmed's house was located to the east of the current Hilal Club.
  • Mustafa Naqar’s house was located on the place of Mirrikh club and current health office.
  • House of Jaafer’s family was located at the area separating the current health care house and Mirrikh club.
  • Mohammed Al Bakhit’s house and Faki Al Zaki’s khalwa were located on the place of cinema Umm Ruwaba.

The known families in this neighbourhood are families of Al Fangalu and Ibrahim al-Baghal before both families were relocated southwards. The current place of the cinema house and clubs could have been evacuated for Umm Ruwaba hospital but the idea of evacuation was overlooked in the last moments. In this neighbourhood, there are the Khatmiyya zawiya and umda Ali Gad Allah court and it had also included a number of small quarters like fariq Baggara and fariq al-Hantushiya but, till the year 1956, it had not included any school (Towns and Landmarks of Sudan, 2012).

Al Baqir neighbourhood:

It lies north of Hai Atrun. To people of Umm Ruwaba, this quarter is known as Hai giddam, i.e. front quarter, and it is bordered by al-Nali graves to the north. This neighbourhood includes a number of small quarters like fariq al-Umda and fariq Abu Kawaya but, till 1956, this neighbourhood had not included any school (Towns and Landmarks of Sudan, 2012).

  1. Fallata neighbourhood (economic generator of Umm Ruwaba):

Formerly, this neighbourhood was not that massive when it had been just quarter of its current area. it includes Fallata, Barnu an Bagirma with their sheikh Mustafa as well as it includes the Hausa with their sheikh Omer Ghabat, all of whom are famous for piety and religiosity. This trio element is active in dealing with different economic activities in the town, for instance at souk, oil squeezers, farms, railways sector, crop souk and different kinds of transport (horse carts), carpentry, building and other occupations and activities (Towns and Landmarks of Sudan, 2012).

Dominant names:

Of the prevailing names in the town are names of prophets, divine messengers, prophet Mohammed companions and wives like Aisha and Zainab and other names.

Important roads:

These roads are Istibala street, souk street and Khartoum—Umm Ruwaba—Al Rahadroad.

Town of Bara:

Emergence and development of Bara:

Town if Bara lies at the intersection of the longitude 13° 47´ north with the latitude 29˚ 47´ east, 54 km north of Al-Ubayyid, capital of North Kordofan State. Bara is located in a severe dry tract whose lands are covered by sands and which, from the first sight, does not seem to be advantageous for development, prosperity and viability of the town. The town consists of two administrative units, eastern unit and western unit, the former of which consists of five administrations which are Bara, Giraigikh, Umm Garfa and Umm Sayalah while the latter unit consists of three administrations which are Taiba, Umm Kiraidim and Al Mazroub (Hussein, 2008).

Researchers see that the name of Bara dates back to the eighth Hegira century, before emergence of Funj Kingdom in 1504, when the name was derived from the word “barah”, a verbal tale meaning “he walked alongside a place or somebody while keeping a little bit far”, yet the word was corrupted by deletion of the last letter “h” to have become “bara” with capital letter “Bara” (Hussein, 2008). 

Before Turkish rule, Bara emerged as a water resource and then the souk emerged near this resource. Thereafter, waterwheels were erected and they are still located in east, west and middle of the town (Hussein, 2008).

On the advent of Mahdism, Bara was overthrown by Imam Al Mahdi shortly before the fall of Al-Ubayyid. Like other towns of Sudan, Bara has gradually developed while it had experienced different periods of governance beginning with Turkish era (1821—1885) when the town became an administrative merkez under Turkish administration and a military garrison under leadership of Al Nour ‘Anqara was established in it. But, in 1883, ‘Anqara surrendered to the Mahdist leader Abdel Rahman Al Nugumi and sworn oath of allegiance for Mahdism before the fall of Al-Ubayyid in November, 1983. However, Bara had remained subjugated by the Ansar till the advent of Condominium rule (Hussein, 2008).

During the Condominium rule, town of Bara had experienced administrative, urban and trade development since the administrative merkez was transferred to it from Umm Saadun Al Nazir in the ‘forties of last century. Then, government chambers, police barracks (Hai Al Buluk), administration offices and the prison were established. This was followed by arrangement of the souk, gardening of the town, building of schools (as shown in photo 28) and expansion of the area of waterwheels. According to population census of 1955/1956, number of Bara population was about 4884 persons (Hussein, 2008).

During the ‘sixties and ‘seventies of last century, town of Bara had experienced the more prosperous periods when new neighbourhoods emerged such as (Hai Al Rikabiya, al- Hai al- sharqi, Al ‘Ishair, al- Hai al-Gharbi and Hai al-Guz). Furthermore, a number of elementary and intermediate schools were built such as the following:

  • Al sharqiya elementary school of boys in al- Hai al- sharqi (1954).
  • Al sharqiya elementary school of girls in Hai al-Bakrawiya (1957).
  • The southern intermediate school of boys (later became a general secondary school and currently it is Bara high school), besides other elementary and intermediate schools in different parts of the town (Hussein, 2008).

In early ‘eighties of last century, the town had witnessed waves of rural immigrants who were displaced due to environmental conditions. These rural displaced persons were settled in camps built of local materials, particularly at eastern and western peripheries of the town (Hussein, 2008).

 Owing to repeated waves of drought which struck the area in ‘nineties of last century, immigration to the town had increased. Later, Bara became a capital of Bara province and, according to 1993 population census, its population reached about 12847 persons (Hussein, 2008).  

                                                                                 Photo 28: Bara Court


                                                                               Source: field work, 2017

Economic activity:

Most inhabitants of Bara depend on trade and waterwheel cultivation which produces kinds of vegetables, particularly onion, tomatoes, watercress and some citrus like lemon and little of fruit like guava. Here, cultivation is carried out in clay basins which are irrigated by underground waters which had formerly been drawn from wells by waterwheels but now it depends on machines and gasoline-fuelled pump pullers. This kind of cultivation is permanent and distributed into land holdings of different areas while being registered by their owners who are mostly heirs of old immigrants.

Waterwheels are located in east, west and middle of the town and managed by agriculture office of Bara which consists of the following three sections: Horticulture management, Agricultural guidance and Pastures. Also, there is a branch of agricultural bank which helps finance farmers to get agricultural machinery and improved seeds and to dig wells. Products of vegetables are locally marketed in Bara, Al-Ubayyid and in rural souks (field work, 2017).


There is an old souk in Bara established in the period of Condominium rule. In this souk, different kinds of trade are practiced. Though there had been active trade of crops in the past, nowadays no any amount of crops is brought to the souk on account of the following reasons:

  • Scanty amount of rains.
  •  Most of cultivated crops are allocated for family food.
  • Hardly any agricultural production, particularly no cash crops like food oil grains (sesame and groundnuts) or hibiscus and gum Arabic and, if any, they will be sold in Al-Ubayyid prosperous souks.

Yet, there is a cattle souk, to which sheep, camels and cows are brought (Hussein, 2008).

Social structure:

Dar Hamid is the greatest tribe living in Bara. This tribe contains numerous branches such as Hababin, Farahna, Maramra, Nawahia, Awlad Gui and ‘Arifiya. To them, tribes like Maaqla, Gilaidat, Bazaa and Gawamaa are added. These tribes have for long intermixed with their counterparts which immigrated from northern and central Sudan, for example the Danagla, Bidairiya, Ja'alin, Dawalib, Gallaba Hawara, Kawahla and Mima in addition to tribes coming from West Africa like Fallata and Bargu with some Nuba and southern tribes (Hussein, 2008). Important geographical and historical features:

 Dispute between the Funj and Fur: Bara is one of old towns in Sudan as its history dates back to the 18th century when it had been a part of the Musabbaat Kingdom. Due to its location in the middle of Sudan at the route linking western Sudan with the Nile Valley, the town experienced prominent historical events when conflict over it was triggered between Fur sultans and Funj Kingdom in the north and east. Also, the Fur sultan, Tairab, died in Bara while returning home after launching a chase against sultan Hashim of the Musabbaat. As well, the town witnessed the allegiance given to Sultan Abdel Rahman Al Rasheed ibn Ahmed Bakr when he was declared an heir sovereign over Darfur Sultanate in 1787. Al Rasheed was succeeded by his son sultan Mohammed Al Fadl in 1803.Bara is a historical site to the Khatmiyya tariqa, one of the greatest political Sufi tariqas in the Sudan, since the leader and founding-father of the tariqa, Sayyed Mohammed Othman Al Mirghani (known as Khatm), visited the town in 1818 and got married in it. Here, the town witnessed the birth of his son, Sayyed Mohammed Al Hassan Al Mirghani, with an honorary nickname Sidi Al Hassan Abu Gallabiya.

Turkish rule:

The strategic location of Bara attracted Mohammed Ali Pasha army during its invasion of the Sudan in the 19th century. Therefore, a force of the invading army set off to occupy Bara and open the route to Al-Ubayyid, the greatest town in Kordofan. In a reaction, Maqdum Musallam, the then ruler of the Musabbaat, got out to fight the Turks where a battle was fought at Bara on 16, April, 1821, ending up by the defeat of the Maqdum and fall of the town at hands of the Turks who continued marching on Al-Ubayyid which they victoriously occupied (Al Gaddal, 2002).

 Era of Mahdism Revolution: Then, with capitulation of Kordofan, the Turks established a well-founded military garrison in Bara as an advanced defensive point for the town of Al-Ubayyid. On starting his secret call against Turco-Egyptian rule, the Imam Mohammed Ahmed Al Mahdi visited Bara whose notables supported him as an imam and caliph of the Prophet. When the Mahdi besieged Al-Ubayyid, Bara was overthrown by the Ansar under leadership of Emir Abdel Rahman Al Nugumi in 1883 (Abu Al Basher, 2007).

National Movement:

A committee of the Graduates Congress was formed in Bara, knowing that the Congress had then called for self-determination of the Sudanese people. At that time, political action in the town was confined to organization of political symposia in Bahri Kordofan Club but, when English authorities banned organization of such symposia in clubs, political action was transferred to where social events and festive gatherings, like celebrations of the anniversary of the Prophet birth, were organized.

Regarding Bara resistance against the colonial rule, the people lowered the British Flag from the mast of the administration building and burnt it while leaving the Egyptian Flag untouched. That event made British authorities disturbed and upset and, accordingly, they conducted a wide campaign of inspection and arrests in the town (Abu Al Basher, 2007).

Examples of the town dignitaries and personalities:

Bara begot many prominent personalities for the Sudan, the examples of which are the following:

* Al Nour ‘Anqara, one of the notable emirs of the Mahdist revolution.

* Sidi Al Hassan Abu Gallabiya, one of leaders of Khatmiya tariqa in the Sudan.

* Notable Sudanese poet, Othman Khalid, writer of the famous singing poem (Ila Musafra).

* the poet Mohammed Abdallah Miraikha.

* Sudanese singer, Mahmoud Tawur, the known singer Salih Al Dhai and singer Abdel Rahman Abdallah (known as Wad Bara).

* Famous singer and musician Hafiz Abdallah.

* Famous engineer Aisha Mohammed Al Hassan (Abu Al Basher, 2007).

* The judge Othman Yassin.

It is worth noting that the town produced sky-scraping stars of different fields, the more famous of which are members of Shaddad family like the umda Ishag Shaddad, the nazir Al Gasim Shaddad, nazir of Bara and Dar Sahal, the sports expert Kamal Hamid Shaddad and his astronomer brother Muawiya Shaddad whom their house is still standing out in the town. There are, also, the coach of the national football team, Mohammed Abdallah Mazda, and ex-secretary of the Mirrikh Club, Mohammed Jaafer Guraish.

Moreover, some personalities of Bara worked as directors of the National Mirrikh Team, for example Mahil Abu Janna and Mohammed Jaafer Guraish. There are other sports figures having a relation to Bara like the national football coach, Mohammed Abdallah Mazda (whose grandfather is Hassan Al Dusuqi) and Taha Ali Al Bashir (Misbah, 2016).

Neighbourhoods of the town:

The town includes a number of quarters such as the following:

  • Northern quarter.
  • Southern quarter.
  • Eastern quarter.
  • Al Rikabiya Quarter.
  • Hai al-Souk (it had been a part of the medium quarter. It includes Hai Maaruf and the Police quarter).
  • The medium quarter, sharq.
  • The western medium quarter (Al Buluk).
  • Hai al-Imtidad.
  • Recently (Hai al-Guz).
  • Al Hai al-Jadeed, including Officials Quarter (Abu Al Basher, 2007). 

Famous prevailing names:

Famous prevailing names of men in Bara are names of prophets, divine messengers and Prophet Mohammed Companions in addition to other names like Al Nour and Al Dhai. As to names of women, they are Fatima, Zainab, Aisha, etc.

Sources and references:


-              Abu Al Bashar, Sir Al Khatim Ahmed Al Mu’min (2007): Book, ‘Alam min al-Sudan, shakhsiyyat Barawiyya, i.e. Dignitaries from Sudan, Bara Personalities, Khartoum.

-              Abu Hajar, Amna Ibrahim (2002): Encyclopedia of Arab Towns, Usama House for publication and distribution.

-              Ahmed Ilyas Hussein and others: Saukin of History, Civilization and Global Interactions, Merkez al-Tanweer al-Maarifi, Khartoum.

-              Ahmed, Abbas Al Tahir (2004): Book, Features from Town of Al Ubayyid, ed. (321—2004).

-              Burckhardt, on his visit to Shendi, 1814.

-              Burckhardt, Visit to Nubia, London, 1987.

-              Khojali, Abdel Gadir Khalifa (2003): Book, Town of Al Ubayyid and History, Kordofan House for printing and publishing.

-              Al Sammani, Mohammed Othman (2007): Book, Umm Ruwaba, Rajaa ‘Assada wa Da’watan, i.e.  Umm Ruwaba, Re-echoing and two Invitations, ed. (558/2007). 

-              Choucair, Naoum (2007): Book, Gughrafiyat wa Tarikh al-Sudan, i.e. Geography and History of Sudan, dar al-Thagafa, Beirut, Lebanon.

-              Choucair, Naoum (1972): Book, Gughrafiyat wa Tarikh al-Sudan, i.e. Geography and History of Sudan, Dar al-Thagafa, Beirut, Lebanon.

-              Choucair, Naoum (1981): Tarikh al-Sudan, i.e. History of Sudan, verified an introduced by D. Mohammed Ibrahim Abu Salim, Dar Al Jeel for publication, Beirut.

-              Shaikhu, Ali Yusuf Adam Ibrahim (2016): Malamih min Tarikh wa Turath Al Maidub, i.e. Features from History and Heritage of Al Maidub, Khartoum University Press, Sudan.

-              Al Sadiq, Salah Omer (2008): Dirasat Sudaniyya fi al-Siyaha, i.e. Sudanese Studies on Tourism, Al Sharif Academic Library for publishing and distribution, Khartoum.

-              Al Tayeb Mohammed Al Tayeb (1991): Book, al Maseed, ed. 1, Khartoum University Press.

-              Abdallah Al Tayeb, Asdaa al-Nil, i.e. Echoes of the Nile (poetry diwan), 5th edition, Khartoum University Press.

-              Farah, Khalid Mohammed (2009): al-Dilalat al-Thagafiya wa ‘al-Igtima’iya li ‘Asmaa al-Sudaniyin, i.e. Cultural and Social Significances for Names of the Sudanese.

-              Al Gaddal, Mohammed Saied (1992): Book, Tarikh al-Sudan al-Hadith (1820—1955), i.e. Modern History of Sudan, Al Amal Printing and Publishing Press Co., Khartoum.

-              Gisaima, Kabbashi Hussein, 2008, al-Tajruba al-Sudaniya fi Idarat al-Turath al-Thagafi, i.e. Sudanese Experiment in Cultural Heritage management, Al Marwa for printing and publishing, Khartoum. 

-              Madibbu, Saied Siddig Hamid (2014): Book, Tarikh Madinat al-Ubayyid (1821—1956), i.e. History of Al Ubayyid Town.

-              Mohammed Abbaker Suleiman and Ali Abbaker Suleiman (1988): Al Zaghawa, Madhi wa Hadhir, i.e. Al Zaghawa, Past and Present, Kuwait Press.

-              Mohammed Al Tahir Bashir (2015): Gabasat min Turath Al Zaghawa, i.e.  Gleams from Zaghawa Heritage, al Maktaba al-Wataniya, Sudan. 

-              Misbah, Tariq (2016): adhwa ala al-Hamish, lamha tarikhiya ‘an Madinat Bara, i.e. Shedding Lights on the Margin, a Historical Glance from Town of Bara (Ireland).

-              Henry Cecil Jackson (1926), Abu Hamad District and its inhabitants of Rubatab and Manasir.

-              Yahia Mohammed Ibrahim, Book, Tarikh al-Ta’alim al-Dini fi al-Sudan, i.e. History of Religious Education in the Sudan, 1st ed. Lebanon.

University theses:

-              Abbaker, Ayub Mukhtar Mohammed (2013), Urban Expansion and its impact on Services in Town of Singa, Faculty of Arts, University of Khartoum.

-              Ahmed, Ghada Al Jaili Haseeb (2000): Spatial Relationships of Town of Shendi, an unpublished Ms Thesis.

-              Adam, Hassan Abbaker Abdel Gayum, a personal interview (2017): Town of Kabkabiya, North Darfur State.

-              Adam, Ali Yusuf (1980): Some Features of Maidub History—a research presented for Honours Degree in History, Faculty of Arts, University of Khartoum.

-              Bashir Kuku Hummaida (1971): Profiles of the Magazeeb History, Faculty of Arts, University of Khartoum.

-              Bashir, Amani Yusuf (2011): a Study about Initial Studies for Documentation and Histories of Sudanese Towns-- University of Khartoum.

-              Al Haj, Mohammed Yahia Ahmed (2005): Functional changes and their Impacts on Urban Structure.

-              Al Hassan, Al Siddig Al Imam Mohammed: a Study on Geography of Towns (Town of Rufaa), unpublished PhD thesis, Al-Neelain University.

-              Hussein, Hammad Ahmed Al Dhawi (2008): Rural Immigration to Town of Bara, Ms Thesis, University of Khartoum.

-              Salim, ahmed Ibrahim mohammed (2013): Obstacles of Urban Growth in Town of El Fasher, 1980—2012, unpublished Ms Thesis, Al Zaiem Al Azhari University.

-              Saaduk, Amal Al Tayeb Abdallah (2008): Impact of Socio-economic Factors on Mortality of Mothers and Babies—Town of kassala in the period (2000—2005), unpublished Ms Thesis, University of Khartoum.

-              Salma Al Tayeb, Intisar Sighayrun (2007): Ms Thesis, History of Al Damar, of Significances of Urban Settlement, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology, University of Khartoum.

-              Abdel Bagi, Amani Ahmed (1991): Socio-economic Impacts of Labour Redundancy Project in Atbara Railway Corporation, Ms Thesis, University of Khartoum.

-              Abdel Hameed, Ismail Ibrahim (2014): Land Uses in Town of Shendi.

-              Abdel Karim, Riyadh Adam Abdel Karim (2012): Impact of Socio-economic Factors on Fertility, South Gezira Locality, Faculty of Arts, University of Khartoum, Complementary Research, Bachelor of Geography.

-              Abdel Muniem Ahmed, Ahmed Hamid (2012): Importance of Galaat Shannan Site for Studies of Neolithic in Shendi District, 18 September, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology, University of Shendi.

-              Abeer Ramadan Hussein (2004): Archaeological Sources Management in Dongola Region.

-              Ali, Hajir Khalid Abdel Rahman Mohammed (2006): Urban Development and Utilization of Land in Town of Al Hasaheesa, unpublished Ms Thesis, Education College, University of Khartoum.

-              Fathallah, Muhannad Ahmed (2011): Urban Development for Town of Atbara during the period 1980—2010, Ms Thesis, University of Khartoum.

-              Mohammed, Al Tigani Ibrahim Al Dhaw, 2002: Complementary Research for Bachelor Degree, Faculty of Arts, Department of Geography, University of Khartoum.

-              Mohammed, Al Mahi Al Sheikh (2011): Geography of Towns Applied on Town of El Fasher, unpublished Ms Thesis, University of El Fasher.

-              Haju Abdallah Mohammed (2009): Socio-economic Importance of Al Haj Abdallah Souk, a Complementary Research, Bachelor of Geography, Faculty of Arts, University of Khartoum.

Essays and Reports:

-              Taj al sir Othman (2014): an article titled Memories from Atbara Railwaymen Club.

-              Al Turathi, Jaafer Bamkar.

-              Umm Kaddada Locality, North Darfur State, 2017.

-              An Article published in the ninth issue of Sudan Notes and Records, translated by Badr al-Din Hamid Al Hashimi.

-              Agricultural Planning Office (2017): Town of Kutum, North Darfur State.

-              Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development, Kenana Sugar Company (2017).

-              Ministry of Agriculture, Agricultural Planning Management—Kabkabiya Office (2017): Town of Kabkabiya, North Darfur State.

-              North Darfur State, Al Tina Locality Headquarters, 2017. 

-              North Darfur State, Taweela Locality, 2017.  

-              North Darfur State, Millit Locality, 2017.  

-              North Darfur State, Millit Locality, Livestock Management, 2017.  

-              North Darfur State, Millit Locality, Rural Waters Management, 2017.  

-              North Darfur State, Millit Locality, Agricultural Planning Office, 2017.  

-              North Darfur State, Ministry of Urban Planning, 2017.


-              Abbasher, Ahmed Suleiman (2017: Field Work, Kutum, North Darfur State.

-              Ahmed, Al Tigani Al Nour (2017): an Interview, 2017.

-              Ahmed, Othman Jalal Mohammed (2017): a Journalist Politician, an Interview.

-              Ahmed, Mohammed Suleiman (2017): an Interview about Dignitaries of El Fasher Town.

-              Ustaz Khalid Salih Al Haj Adam, town of Millit, an Interview, 2017.

-              Nazir Mohammed Al Mansour Al Ajab’s Family, Abu Hasheem, an Interview, February, 2017.

-              Nazir Mohammed Al Mansour Al Ajab’s Family, an Interview, March, 2017.

-              Anwer Adam Mohammed Imam, Personal Interview (2017), Umm Kaddada, North Darfur State.

-              Al Jak, Salah, 2017 (Interview).

-              Al Jaili Khidir Mohammed Saghir (2017), one of the town notables and former manager of Bank of Khartoum.

-              Hamid Hamad Ibrahim Al Faig (2017): Field Work.

-              Hassan Gibreel Esa Mohammed, an Interview on 13/2/2017.

-              Hassan Ibrahim Al Haj (2017): Field Work, Kutum, North Darfur State.

-              Al Rasheed Makki, Head of Snuff Traders Union, North Darfur State, El Fasher.

-              Al Shahir, Mustafa Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, 2017: an Interview.

-              Al Shinnawi (2017): Al Rayyah Jaafer, entrepreneurship.

-              Al ‘Agib Jubara, a former member of the locality police, an Interview, February, 2017, Town of Al Dindir.

-              Al Fadil Adam Ali Mansour, a personal interview (2017), Umm Kaddada, North Darfur State.

-              Al Fadil Yusuf, Al Dindir Locality Headquarters, an Interview, February, 2017.

-              Al Fadil Yusuf, March, 2017, clerk in Al Dindir Locality Headquarters.

-              Al Nour, Al Tuhami Ali (Al TYuhami Babanusa), (2017): correspondent, photographer and documenter of the Miseiriya Heritage, Babanusa Information (Interview).

-              Adil Ubaidi (2017), private interview.

-              Abdel Azim Al Sa’uri (2017), Interview.

-              Abdel Ghaffar Adam Ali Mansour (2017): El Fasher, North Darfur State.

-              Abdallah Ali Esa, Direct Interview, 2017.

-              Abdallah Mohammed Kabbashi (2017), Par timer in University of Khartoum, a Private Interview.

-              Omer Al Nour Nour al-Din, 17/2/2017, an Agricultural Engineer and a Farmer in Town of Al Dali, Al Dali Locality, Sennar State.

-              Omer Adlan Al Mak Hassan Adlan, February, 2017, Town of Singa, Singa Locality, Sennar State.

-              Omer, Tariq Al Tayeb Harun Ahmed Omer (2017): Assistant Nazir Umum Al Gawamaa (Al Rahad/ Umm Ruwaba/ Umm Dam), Private Interview.

-              Mohammed Ahmed Al Kanun (2017), Al Dindir Locality Information, Town of Al Dindir, Al Dindir Locality, Sennar State.

-              Mohammed Al Sayyed Al Ni’ma, a notable of the Town, entrepreneurship.

-              Mahmoud Hussein Bahr (2017), a Teller of the Maidub Tribe sons.

-              Mustafa Al Tigani, an Administrative Officer, North Darfur State, Taweela Locality, 2017.

-              Mohammed Hamid, one of Wad Al Haddad Notables, on 10/2/2017.

Articles and reports published in the Internet:

-              Data on Climate, Berber, Sudan, in English.

-              Development Map of West Kordofan State, 2015, Vol. 2.

-              Sudaress, Electronic Searching Machine.

-              Wad Al Haddad Souk, an Article published on Al Sahafa Daily on 30/3/2012.

-              Ubaid Mohammed Suleiman Al Faki, 2012, an article in al-Tawthiq al-Shamil Journal. 

-              Mohammed Al Amin Hamid (2016): Articles about Al Sharif Al Haj Abdallah, Al Haj Abdallah website.

-              Mohammed Khair Mansour, 2010, an article in al-Tawthiq al-Shamil Journal.

-              Towns and Landmarks of Sudan, writings by ‘Ashiq al-Tirhal, Sudan Elite Forums (2012).

-              Mansour, Hamid Muniem (2013): Town of Al Nuhud website.

-              The Legislative Council—Gezira State (2017).

-              Al Maarifa website

-              Nour Al Islam (2010): Mustafa, Encyclopedia of al-Tawthiq al-Shamil, Amkina Forum/ September, 2010.

-              ^ Berber – Encyclopedia.

-              ^ http:\\


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