Photographer: Mahjoub Mohamed al-Hassan
KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Generally, al-Tuggaba is a place where firewood is burned to give light. But the al-Tuggaba has other definitions. It is a huge bonfire that travelers can see from a distance at night and realize that “well, here is a place for shelter and food.”
The al-Tuggaba has been associated with Koran khalwas (schools or seminaries) where children can live and master the Koran and its sciences. When one hears the word tuggaba, he will instantly draw the mental picture of a huge fire surrounded with Koran learners and where the smell of hot porridge engulfs the place.
The Tuggaba tradition dates back to the days of the Sinnar Sultanate, Sudan’s first Islamic state that came into being in the year 1504 in the vicinity of today’s city of Sinnar. The Islamic Cooperation Organization (ICO) this year named Sinnar as the Capital of Islamic Culture, an annual festival organized by the ICO, each time in a different country.
The tuggaba of Sheikh al-Ebaid Wad Badur’s maseed in Oumdawanban suburb of Khartoum State has grown higher with the accumulating ashes over the years. Its fire still continues to glow ever since it was first lit in 1847. Even during the rainy season when the flames subside because of rain water, ember continues to glow beneath the thick ashes of the heavy logs of wood. Up to now Koran students continue to collect timber, light this tuggaba and encircle it to read their lessons, nevertheless the electric lights that flood the place. They keep this tradition in memory of the noble Sheikh.
(Excerpts from a Sudanow article to be published later)
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