Built on an area of 2 acres within the Khartoum International Garden and facing the Khartoum International Airport, the visitor can easily see a microcosm of Sudan’s varied landmarks and cultures.
That is the Khartoum Heritage Village, a project sponsored and built by the NGO Ana al-Sudan (I am the Sudan) with support from the Sudanese Council for International People’s Friendship.
The Village is now ten years old and continues to attract visitors from within the country and from abroad, thanks to its picturesque scenery and the valuable works of art it embodies.
Organization Chairman Dr. Mohi Eddin al-Jemaia’abi took us for a tour of this fascinating village. At the main gate you find yourself face to face with the statues of Sudan’s great ancient Kings Piankhi and Taharqa who established the Kush Kingdom around 2500 A.D that presented the World with one of its richest civilizations. History books tell us that these two kings had extended their rule from Meroe up to Egypt, Syria and Palestine where they liberated the Bait al Maqdis (present day Jerusalem) from the Assyrians and down to Abyssinia (today’s Ethiopia).
Then one can see replicas of pyramids located in al-Bjrawiyya and Jabal al-Barkal some 100km and 350 km north of Khartoum, respectively.
Then we can find the Nubian home with its date palms and Roman pillars that also represent an aspect of the Meroite civilization.
At the Eastern flank we can see a replica of the Suwakin gate (Red Sea region of Eastern Sudan) that leads us into the culture and homes of the Bija communities of Bani Aamir, the Hadandawas, the Amra’ars and their neighbors down to Gedarif town.
On the Western section we find a replica of the Abdel Qayyoom Gate, which was built during Khalifa Abdullah al-Taaishi during the Mahadiyya State (1885-1899).
Here we also find the homes of Western Sudanese communities: the camel and cattle herders, the homes of the Hawazmas, the Jahobas, the Misairias, the Nubians and those of the inhabitants of the Blue Nile district and South Sudan ethnicities. Here we can also see two very beautiful wide huts that have no match save those of Bahr Dar in Ethiopia. The environment-friendly two huts were designed and built at a cost of SDG 85 million to host tribal chiefs and dignitaries visiting the Village.
Dr. Jimaia’abi said the Village represents what is taught to primary school children within the maskanuna (our dwelling) syllabus that presents the youngsters with a description of the Sudanese different types of homes. By that definition, says Dr.Timaia’abi, the Village gives the school pupils and university students a good picture of Sudan’s diverse environments and cultures. That was why former Minister of Education Mu’tasim Abdel-Raheem had urged education authorities nationwide to encourage school and kindergarten children to visit the Village.
The Village presents a lot of activities during national holidays when tribes display their arts, dances, accessories and foods. We can see the Rashaydas of Kassala, Eastern Sudan, and other herders with their camels inside the Village. We can see the Baggaras of Western Sudan with their cows, a very captivating scene indeed.
The Village also hosts foreign delegations visiting Sudan where they see a display of Sudanese culture and enjoy delicious Sudanese meals, open air barbeque and the salat and agashe steaks. They can also enjoy Sudanese coffee.
Many visitors were taken by surprise when they saw this varied Sudanese cultures, the country’s original heritage and the Nation’s delicious foods, prepared by skilled cooks.
One of the Village’s fixed functions is the weekly Khartoum poetry reading night (organized on Tuesdays) and a monthly gala. Persons with special needs also present programs of their own. The Village has culture troupes made up of 85 children who present African dances to the visitors on different occasions. These troupes had received lots of acclaim from official African delegations who visited the country to take part in conferences and seminars.
The Village also presents catering services (on call) for institutions, conferences, individuals and families, where the guests are hosted and entertained with artistic shows. There is also an integrated restaurant for popular Sudanese meals. However, Dr. Jimaia’abi says this restaurant is not open for the public all the time for fear that the Village may become an ordinary restaurant. The aim of such a measure is to keep the place in a tidy condition.
The Village had been visited by many people from within the country and from abroad. It does not charge any fees. The only condition is a pre-fixed date for visits.
Among the celebrities that graced the Village was the former FIFA Boss Joseph Sepp Blatter. The Village had also been visited by many leaders and ministers from Sudan and from abroad. One of the most outstanding visits, according to Dr. Jimaia’abi, was from the late Islamist Leader Hassan Abdulla al-Turabi and his family three months before his death. Turabi and his family had spent about four hours when he and his wife sat on the traditional Jirtig beds, ate agashe steaks, marveled at the beauty of the Village and wrote down their observations.
President Omar al-Bashir has also promised a family visit in the near future. Bashir had extolled Dr. Jimaia’abi’s effort for the creation and promotion of the Village, saying that he (Bashir) had seen the Malaysian heritage village and was fond of that country’s attention to its heritage.
The Village has ambitious future plans in order to keep up with the new developments in the domains of documentation, photographing, renovation and the addition of new activities for more awareness about the Sudanese heritage. These plans are pending due funding. Tourism officials and tourist firms and expo officials had visited the Village and saw its tremendous tourist potential and its collection of crocodiles, tortoises and birds.
However, all this excellent effort is now at stake as the Sudanese Council for International People’s Friendship has asked the Khartoum State engineering affairs authority to remove the Village to use its area for business investment. The issue is now pending a ruling from the Attorney General.