The people of Sai

We have referred to the locals of Sai. Who are they? Nubians – mainly of the Sikut tribe.

They have obviously been living in the same place since the ancient times, still speaking their own language, in their own dialect, called rutana among the Arabic speakers.

There are also many ‘foreigners’ on the island. Most have come from Kordofan, immigrants in a land which has thousands of internally displaced people. They do not know the history of Sai island and its place names, but they like their life there and appreciate its beauty and hospitality, despite all the difficulties. It would be impossible to describe in words the hardships of a life on Sai of the 21st century. We would only like to insist on the fact that the rise of the temperatures this year, along with the lowering of the water level of the Nile downstream of the Merowe Dam, made the small flies, the nimiti, which annually infest northern Sudan become extremely numerous and to prolong their stay in the area more than anyone could put up with. It is characteristic that the people of Sai stopped cultivating their fields in daytime and shifted their activities to the darkness of the night when the nimiti do not fly…

We will always remember a very noble man we met at the village of Dibasha, in the southeastern part of the island, Sheikh ad-Din. When he heard us complaining about the obnoxious little creatures, he said: “Thank God, for on our island there are no problems like the ones tormenting the rest of the world”…be it in Sudan or elsewhere, we add! Sheikh ad-Din is a magnificent person, proudly representing his people. He knows his land and deeply understands its nature. He is passionate for its history and eager to protect the monuments that thrive around his homestead. He preserves wholeheartedly the memory of his ancestors who were among those possessing the creations of an architectural heritage that only recently the Khartoum authorities have decided to study and protect. And he lives a life imbued in traditional principles and austere morality, never losing his smile, but always using it to open the doors of his hospitable home to his guests .

Sheikh ad

We wish and pray that the plans for ‘development’, ‘progress’, and ‘investment’ in Northern Sudan will not see Sai, Sheikh ad-Din, the Nubians and their guests, submerged under the waters of another artificial lake that is being planned to be added to the ones created by the dams on the First and Fourth Cataracts of the Nile River…

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