Kababish People

Kababish

Kababish

The Kababish are a nomadic tribe of the northern Kordofan region of Sudan. The Kababish comprise about 19 different groups, which are all led by a single nazir or chief. Their main occupation is as camel herders, which gives them a high standing in Arabic society as camels are highly prized and valued.

The main religion of the Kababish is Islam, adhering to the Sunni denomination. They trace descent from Arabian forefathers that hail from the Arabian tribe of Juhaynah, and speak a form of Sudanese Arabic. Women classically dress in a long blue cloth wrapped a few times around their body, while the men wear long white tunics, loose white pants and white turbans. Most men will carry a dagger or sword and perhaps a rifle or shotgun, due to the harshness of desert life and the threat of banditry due to their valuable stock.

The Kababish of Sudan are numbering 517,000 (Peoplegroups.org, 2024)

Kababish People

The Kababishes are a group of Arabs from the Juhayna cluster. They are a camel-herding people who live west of the Nile River in the northern Kordofan and Darfur regions of Sudan. Opponents of the Mahdist movement in the nineteenth century, they possess a powerful sense of independence and selfreliance. The Kababishes have played important roles in recent Sudanese politics. Among the most prominent Sudanese leaders of Kababish descent is Ali al-Tom.

Kababish People

Economy

From a young age children start to work at herding camels for water and feeding. What makes the Kababish stand out from other nomads is that the tribe does not all move together, often the women will stay at their camps or dikkas while the men move north towards the Libyan desert.

The traditional Kabābīsh cultivate very little and depend on their camels, sheep, and goats. With the coming of the dry season, they congregate at well centres in Dar Kabābīsh, moving camels and sheep south to central Kordofan and Darfur to meet the early rains. During the rains they rejoin the households that have once again moved northwestward. In years of good rains, the livestock, particularly camels, travel deep into northern Darfur and Chad to feed on the gizzu plant.

Kababish Peoiple

Life

Because the Dar Hamid are a nomadic people, they live in dikkas (camps). Their homes are tents made with camel hair roofs and cotton sides. Many of the tents are decorated inside with leather and wool ornaments. The basic item of furniture is a double bed made of palm ribs bound with strips of leather. The bed rests on pegs a foot above the ground. The Dar Hamid lifestyle dictates that even the tent's decorative ornaments have a practical value. By tradition, Arabs are very hospitable and always provide for their guests.

While the Dar Hamid men move across the desert with their camel herds, the women and children stay home in the dikka. The women tend the gardens and the small boys work in the fields, herding house camels and preventing goats and sheep from entering the cultivated land.

Dar Hamid children are sent to herd animals almost as soon as they can walk. They have been described as shy and reserved, even with each other.

Because life in the desert is very dangerous, all of the Dar Hamid men wear sheathed daggers on their left arms. Most carry swords and all carry either shotguns or rifles. They must sleep lightly at night to protect themselves and their tribes from bandits.

Their main diet consists of tea mixed with camel's milk. If one of them has the good fortune of killing an animal in the desert, they will also have meat to eat. Each man carries a canvas sheet that has many purposes. The canvas can be used as a ground sheet, a tent, a trough for watering animals, or a sling for carrying heavy items such as loads of hay.

Before the 1960s, the number of livestock a tribe owned was limited by the accessibility of water. At that time, the government drilled new wells, enabling the livestock to flourish and the herds to increase. Unfortunately, the pasture lands could no longer sustain the large number of animals. Diminishing rainfall has destroyed the pastures. Many of the herdsmen have lost their livestock and have been forced to move from their homes.

Kababish Peoiple

Family

While the Kababish men move across the desert with their camel herds, the women and children stay home in the dikka. The women tend to the gardens, while some women go and stay at the camel markets in order to sell tea and coffee to the traders. Kababish children are sent to herd animals out in the desert sands almost as soon as the can walk. They have been described as calm, contemplative and responsible. Considering the conditions in which they live, these are not surprising characteristics

 

Appearance

The Kababish have darker complexions than traditional Arabs do, but they are lighter than the dark black-skinned tribes of the South. Other Sudanese tribes will say that the Kababish are white-skinned Arabs. Compared to most other tribes, this is a true description. The Kababish women wear brightly colored tobes, which are long pieces of material wrapped all around the body a few times and covering the head. The men wear white gowns, loose pants underneath, and a white hat or turban on their head. Because life in the desert is very dangerous, all of the Kababish men wear sheathed daggers on their left arms. Most carry swords and sometimes even shotguns or rifles.

Kababish Peoiple

History

The Dar Hamid are a confederation of about nineteen tribes and some smaller sub-groups that share a common culture and are led by a single nazir (chief). Although the tribes have different origins, most of their ancestors came from Arabia. Unfortunately, most Dar Hamid cannot read or write.

The Dar Hamid dar (territory) is located in Northern Sudan. Like other nomadic Arab tribes, the Dar Hamid wander the desert with their herds, searching for vegetation that grows after the rare desert thunderstorms. They have a complex system of migration in which different parts of the family move to different places during certain times of the year.

The Dar Hamid raise all types of livestock which are traded for grain and other essentials such as salt, tea, sugar, cloth, dates, seasoning, and metal goods. Camels are the most important of their animals. They provide milk, a main diet staple for the nomads, occasional meat, material for tents, and transportation across the desert.

Kababish People

Religion

Traditionally, the Dar Hamid are Sunni Muslims. However, most are not religious and know very little about the Islamic religion. One of the five "pillars" of Islam is that a Muslim must pray five times a day. However, among the Kababish, some pray only when they feel like it, while others never pray at all. Water is scarce, so the cleansing rituals are either cut short or ignored completely, and sand is used in place of water.

Since very few of the Dar Hamid are able to read or write, many consider the written word a source of magical power. Fakirs (holy men) make charms and sell them to the tribesmen for cash or livestock.

Kababish Peoiple

Modern Times

Since the famine in the 1980s life has become more strenuous for the Kababish, which has seen many turn towards the cities or take up a more semi-nomadic life. Today the tribe is estimated to be anywhere between 70,000 and 350,000, most of whom are illiterate.

Kababish Peoiple

 

Sources: