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Alsarah: 10 Things I Love About Sudan

Khartoum-born singer Alsarah, front woman of the East African retro pop band Alsarah & The Nubatones, shares 10 things she loves about Sudan.

In our “10 Things I Love” series we ask our favorite musicians, artists & personalities to tell us what they like the most about their home country.


In this new installment Khartoum-born singer and songwriter Alsarah, frontwoman of the East African retro pop band Alsarah & The Nubatones, shares the 10 things she loves the most about Sudan. Her group's newly-released album 'Manara' is available now.

With over 58 different tribes, languages, and cultures, Sudan is a large and diverse place to live. However due to the non-stop turmoil making travel so difficult and unsafe since its independence, most people are unaware of all the magic that is available there—even its own people.

I was born in the capital city of Khartoum where over a third of the country's population makes its home, but until I was in my early twenties I had never traveled too far outside the capital city. Hence I want to preface this list by saying: I probably don't know enough about the real magic of all that makes Sudan Sudan, and I am not sure any one of us alone does either—so I highly encourage anyone reading this article to chime in with their favorite spots as well as links so we can all share in the magic of Sudan with one another.

Nuba Wrestling

The Nuba Wrestling competition in Haj Yousef on Fridays is one of my absolute must-dos when in Khartoum. Haj Yousef is a suburb of Khartoum host to a variety of different peoples from different regions of the country (as is the case in most neighborhoods in this diverse city).

The competitions normally start after the Friday prayer and continue into the early evening. Here is a clip of one of the matches from the stadium I usually go to when visiting.

The Moolid aka Muslim Christmas

This is a celebration of the prophet Mohamed's birth. This was also my favorite holiday as a kid because you got to have a new outfit, go to the big maidan where everyone was gathered, and you got those giant pretty dolls which were made of colored sugar.

The dolls that you would sneak around and eat slowly behind your mom's back until you got caught and had to explain why the doll was missing half its head and you swear you didn't eat it, and no those aren't your teeth marks on her head...

The gathering in the Maydan. Image courtesy of Alsarah via Sputnik News.

The entire Shamalia State is magical!

While the majority of the land is desert up there, it's also host to the largest number of Nubian-built artifacts having been the seat of Nubian history until very recently (Nubia ended in Egypt, it didn't start there contrary to popular opinion) with the building of the High Dam in Egypt.

At the moment a great deal of new Dams are being built on the Nile in north Sudan causing a great deal of strife and putting a lot of this history in further jeopardy than it already is, so go now because this might not be possible down the road sadly.

Samekmek Fish Restaurant in Khartoum 2 (مطعم سمكمك الخرطوم 2)

Mind blowing fried fish! Seriously, just mind blowing! Just get to the Khartoum 2 area and ask any rikshaw driver and they will send you to the exact location. While you are there get into the Aseeda with Mula7 Nei3mia and a side of fresh arugula if they have it that day (depends on day of the week and time of day). Never forget to ask for the special dakwa hot sauce! #sudanisauce #gamechanger

"Sit Alshai" Across the Circle from Ozone Park

Ozone Park is arguably the bougiest place to be in Khartoum. It's a place where you can sit in the middle of a giant traffic circle shielded by old Neem trees and other greenery in Khartoum 2 rubbing shoulders with all the who's who of Sudanese upper crust inteligencia, bratty expat high schoolers, and other couples celebrating a special moment that warrants dropping $6 USD on some coffee...yeah that would be six US dollars my homie…

OR you can be like me and thousands of others and have your tea on the side of the street over by the tea lady and only pay $.25 for some bomb-ass tea! Maybe even a fresh benigt (aka ligaymat), if you time it right (e.g. before 9am)...see even these old school British guys were in on the secret...But seriously, the tea lady across the circle from there has particularly fancy batch of teas and her dried mint is always fresh!

Port Sudan and the Red Sea Area

Port Sudan is a large bustling port city on the Red Sea and perhaps Sudan's only “winter” resort area. By winter I really mean that time of year between November and January when it's pleasantly/borderline too hot, as opposed to oppressively-wanna-kill-yourself-hot. There is also a beach, and a perfect one at that. You can even take a boat cruise up the Red Sea all the way to Egypt! Around the Christmas and New Year season there are so many open air concerts to attend too!

Sudanese Weddings!

If you haven't been to a Sudanese wedding then you haven't done any socializing in Sudan. Considered by many to be the most important social activity in Sudan it can span anywhere from 2-7 days in activities, and usually takes months and months of preparations (including dance training for the bride).

There is also an entire industry of cosmetics built around the wedding activities, the star player of which are the Henna designers and practitioners. Every new year there are new fads of designs and patterns, and long waiting lists at the top salons in khartoum to get an appointment.

Henna drawing in Sudan. Photo by Albert González Farran, UNAMID. Creative Commons image via Flickr.

Rashid Diab Art Center

The Rashid Diab Art Center is one of the few places in Khartoum to see any new artwork... they also host workshops and concerts sometimes. Always worth passing by and asking to see what's up

The Sudan National Museum

The Sudan National Museum in Khartoum is surprisingly awesome and full of wonderful facts. Definitely worth a visit!

Buhen Temple reconstructed at the Sudan National Museum. Creative Commons photo by David Stanley (via Flickr).

Marrah Mountains in Darfur

The Marrah mountains are somewhere I've never been but always wanted to go. My dad used to work out there and always came home with lots of stories for us when we were kids. It's on my list of things to do in Sudan eventually.

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Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 List

Celebrating African Women Laying the Groundwork for the Future

It would not be hyperbole to consider the individuals we're honoring for OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 list as architects of the future.

This is to say that these women are building infrastructure, both literally and metaphorically, for future generations in Africa and in the Diaspora. And they are doing so intentionally, reaching back, laterally, and forward to bridge gaps and make sure the steps they built—and not without hard work, mines of microaggressions, and challenges—are sturdy enough for the next ascent.

In short, the women on this year's list are laying the groundwork for other women to follow. It's what late author and American novelist Toni Morrison would call your "real job."

"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."

And that's what inspired us in the curation of this year's list. Our honorees use various mediums to get the job done—DJ's, fashion designers, historians, anthropologists, and even venture capitalists—but each with the mission to clear the road ahead for generations to come. Incredible African women like Eden Ghebreselassie, a marketing lead at ESPN who created a non-profit to fight energy poverty in Eritrea; or Baratang Miya, who is quite literally building technology clubs for disadvantaged youth in South Africa.

There are the builds that aren't physically tangible—movements that inspire women to show up confidently in their skin, like Enam Asiama's quest to normalize plus-sized bodies and Frédérique (Freddie) Harrel's push for Black and African women to embrace the kink and curl of their hair.

And then there are those who use their words to build power, to take control of the narrative, and to usher in true inclusion and equity. Journalists, (sisters Nikki and Lola Ogunnaike), a novelist (Oyinkan Braithwaite), a media maven (Yolisa Phahle), and a number of historians (Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Leïla Sy) to name a few.

In a time of uncertainty in the world, there's assuredness in the mission to bring up our people. We know this moment of global challenge won't last. It is why we are moving forward to share this labor of love with you, our trusted and loyal audience. We hope that this list serves as a beacon for you during this moment—insurance that future generations will be alright. And we have our honorees to thank for securing that future.

EXPERIENCE 100 WOMEN 2020

The annual OkayAfrica 100 Women List is our effort to acknowledge and uplift African women, not only as a resource that has and will continue to enrich the world we live in, but as a group that deserves to be recognized, reinforced and treasured on a global scale. In the spirit of building infrastructure, this year's list will go beyond the month of March (Women's History Month in America) and close in September during Women's Month in South Africa.

100 women 2020

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Burna Boy 'African Giant' money cover art by Sajjad.

The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs

We comb through the Nigerian star's hit-filled discography to select 20 essential songs from the African Giant.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2012 with his chart-topping single, "Like to Party," and the subsequent release of his debut album, L.I.F.E - Leaving an Impact for eternity, Burna Boy has continued to prove time and again that he is a force to be reckoned with.

The African Giant has, over the years, built a remarkable musical identity around the ardent blend of dancehall, hip-hop, reggae, R&B, and afropop to create a game-changing genre he calls afro-fusion. The result has been top tier singles, phenomenal collaborations, and global stardom—with several accolades under his belt which include a Grammy nomination and African Giant earning a spot on many publications' best albums of 2019.

We thought to delve into his hit-filled discography to bring you The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs.

This list is in no particular order.

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(Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Rejoice! WhatsApp Places New Restrictions on Chain Messages to Fight Fake News

To combat the spread of misinformation due to the coronavirus outbreak, users are now restricted from sharing frequently forwarded messages to more than one person.

The rise of the novel coronavirus has seen an increase in the spread of fake news across social media sites and platforms, particularly WhatsApp—a platform known as a hotbed for the forwarding of illegitimate chain messages and conspiracy theories (if you have African parents, you're probably familiar). Now the Facebook-owned app is setting in place new measures to try and curb the spread of fake news on its platform.

The app is putting new restrictions on message forwarding which will limit the number of times a frequently forwarded message can be shared. Messages that have been sent through a chain of more than five people can only subsequently be forwarded to one person. "We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful," announced the app in a blog post on Tuesday. "In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers."

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Sarkodie Hits Hard With His Latest Single 'Sub Zero'

The Ghanaian heavyweight rapper shows up with the fire bars over an Altra Nova-produced beat.

Sarkodie has dropped a new aggressive track in the shape of "Sub Zero."

"Sub Zero" follows the star Ghanaian rapper as he throws back criticisms that have come his way from other rappers with his own ice cold flow. The new track was produced by Ghanaian beatmaker Altra Nova and mixed by PEE On Da BeaT.

"Sub Zero" follows Sarkodie's turn-up single "Bumper," which dropped bak in February.

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