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Brandeis University
P.O. Box 549110, MS 006
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02454-9110
(781) 736-2210
(781) 736-2232 (FAX)
Department Office: Brown 228
© Musician, [Jacob Lueth Achol]


Music and Dance


Play and Games


Throughout the Sudan, religious traditions, personal or societal achievements, social and family histories, and economic status are exhibited through music and dance.  Hence, singing, which is usually accompanied by dancing, is the most important form of cultural and personal expression.   For many centuries, prominent singers have composed songs to mainly impress women and praise their beauty. In the most Nilotic communities, for example, male singers create songs about the number of cattle they own as a way to impress women since economic status depends on the ability to acquire cows.  It is also important to note that current Sudanese dance and music is heavily influenced by foreign beats as a result of population movement across borders and the circulation of international recordings.


Wrestling is one of the most popular sports in the southern Sudan. Clans or entities united by common interest often challenge other groups to compete with them in a wrestling match.  The competition is a serious business and the event attracts crowds from various social organizations.  Traditionally, wrestlers usually decorate their bodies and wear certain attire to distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowd.  The commonly worn attire is leopard skin and peacock feathers.  Wrestling coaches or monitors are responsible for organizing the event in a way such that all wrestlers from both teams have equal participation.   During the match, each side sings songs of praise and triumph as a way for them to show support for chosen individuals in the ring. Each defeat and triumph counts as a score through the match; at the end, the winner is the one with the most number of wins. The prize for the winner is individual recognition and societal pride.  It is important to note that defeat and success are equally shared by all members of the society.

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