North Sudanese Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Do’s

  • Expect to be asked about your marital status and occupation when meeting a Sudanese person for the first time. This is not intended to be intrusive. Rather, such questions allow people to determine how they should interact with you.
  • You may wish to show generosity. For example, offering someone a ride, visiting them when they are sick or helping them with a project. The Sudanese greatly value this kind of thoughtfulness.
  • Repeat any offer multiple times to show that you are being genuine and are not just being polite. For example, if you offer to drive a Sudanese person home, they are likely to initially decline the gesture out of politeness even if they have no other form of transport. You should insist that you want to help.
  • Similarly, decline anything a Sudanese person offers at least once before accepting. For example, say “I couldn’t possibly accept that from you”. If they do not insist the offer upon you, it generally means they were simply saying it out of politeness.
  • Remember to return favours. If you accept a favour or help from a Sudanese person, there is an expectation that you return similar generosity at some point in the future. Failing to do so would reflect poorly upon you.
  • Make sure you are respectful, modest and follow the correct etiquette when visiting a Sudanese person's home (see Etiquette).
  • Remember that the Sudanese like to have fun. While the culture is quite conservative, people like to laugh and joke. 
  • Remember that ‘Sudan’ and ‘South Sudan’ are separate countries. The information in this profile does not represent the South Sudanese population. See the South Sudanese profile for more information.

 

Don'ts

  • Do not blame social problems and conflicts in Sudan on the Sudanese people/culture or Islam. Each Sudanese person has their own opinion about the role ‘culture’, interpretations of Islam and government have played in creating each issue. Remember that there is not a clear line, and refrain from voicing your own view unless asked.
  • Avoid complaining or gossiping about petty things that are not overly significant. The Sudanese people are very stoic and rarely speak up if something aggravates them (see Stoicism in Core Concepts). 
  • Avoid asking questions that assume Sudanese people are uneducated, uncivilised or impoverished, such as “Do you have the internet in Sudan?”. Most North Sudanese migrants living in English-speaking countries are skilled, educated, urbanised and familiar with the technologies of the developed world.
  • Do not assume that all Sudanese Muslims follow a conservative, fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. The official position of the Sudanese government does not reflect the interpretations of all Sudanese people (see Religion). For example, not all Sudanese Muslim women living in other countries wear the hijab.
  • Do not assume that all North Sudanese migrants have experienced conflict or lived in refugee camps. While this is the case for some, it does not apply to most North Sudanese migrants (see Sudanese in Australia).
  • Do not assume that the Sudanese and South Sudanese are culturally similar. They are from different countries and have different languages, religions, ethnicities and lifestyles. It is common to mistake South Sudanese cultural behaviours for those of the North Sudanese communities. See the South Sudanese profile for more information.
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