Young Nubian wrestlers from the south of Sudan with sculptured bodies like the Chippendales compete against each other every Friday night in northeastern Khartoum. A must see for Kelly and me.
We arrived in time, which means way too early. A few men were squatting in the shade, we followed suit, trying not to draw too much attention. After a while a group moved to a place that looked like a ticket booth, we moved along. Friendly men offered to pass our money to the front of the line so we did not need to wait. Only minutes later, another kind person ushered Kelly and me inside the open-air arena. We were the first visitors and able to choose our seats. Royal treatment!
More and more people arrived, men only, Kelly and I pretended to be used to such an all male environment. Once the stadium was filled to the rim, this is meant literally, a prayer started. Soon an elderly man was beating a drum to get the crowd going before wrestlers filed in the sandy arena dominated by a huge referee.
The Game begins
Each wrestler went over to the sector where his fans were cheering in the stands and finally the first two wrestlers faced each others. The fight is quite ceremonial: throwing sand on ones own body, bending in the hips and moving in circles around the opponent, slapping his head, holding his leg and then a quick move. Voila!
The goal is to throw the rival onto the sandy ground. The winner is carried around the arena waving his prize money while his supporters go wild.
A team of fierce looking policemen was constantly circling the arena and they did not hesitate to kick out those who get too enthusiastic.
A once in a lifetime experience!