‘All Along the Nile Valley’ celebrates Sudanese heritage in Cairo

'All Along the Nile Valley' at Maq'ad Sultan Qaitbey, Cairo, on Saturday (Photo: Rana S./RD)

Reporting and pictures by Rana S.

Under the minarets of Cairo’s City of the Dead, El Mahrousa Foundation for Development and Participation, in cooperation with Maq’ad of Sultan Qaitbey (MASQ), organised “All Along the Nile Valley: An Egyptian Sudanese Day” in the Egyptian capital on Saturday, to celebrate the long history of cultural exchange between the two countries.

Maq’ad Sultan Qaitbey in Cairo’s City of the Dead (Photo: Rana S./RD)

Maq’ad Sultan Qaitbey, located in a 15th Century monumental complex in Cairo’s Mamluk Desert area, hosted the cultural day celebrating the shared history and civilisation between Egypt and Sudan.

Members of the Sudanese community of all ages participated in the opening of the exhibition, in a cultural mix that brought together Sudanese and Egyptians alike in the embrace of the ancient architecture that characterises the City of the Dead, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The day began with an exhibition of Sudanese handmade products, where attendees could support Sudanese crafts makers in Cairo and purchase traditional Sudanese-style dresses and jewellery. Sudanese painters Mohamed Abdallah Oteibi, Khaled Abdelrahman, and Reem El Jeili inaugurated an art exhibition adjacent to the bazar.

Oteibi’s exhibition, ‘Love and Peace’, honoured the efforts of those striving for a life of love and peace against the backdrop of war. Ahead of the event, Oteibi commented: “What is happening in our beloved Sudan and in several other countries of the world is hideous and grisly. Art and culture, especially visual arts, can create an image of an ideal world where people live in peace and harmony. Can bringing such a world to life in art perhaps help to set people’s minds on building one in reality?”

Khaled Abdelrahman devoted his exhibition, ‘Aged Places’, to ancient monuments and heritage buildings, to convey to viewers his idea of the connection between different times and lives. His pieces harmonised beautifully with the ancient buildings visible in the background through the windows of the exhibition.

Left: ‘Aged Places’ by Khaled Abdelrahman / Right: ‘A Garden of Fake Tulips’ by Reem El Jeili (Photo: Rana S./RD)

Reem El Jeili presented ‘A Garden of Fake Tulips’, a collection of her latest works from Khartoum and Cairo. MASQ described her paintings as “diving into a deep parallel world of tulips, cats, and female figures, expressing longing for a place and time where human personality can enjoy freedom and fulfilment.”

In the final moments of the event, singer Hiba El Gizouli mesmerised the audience with her melodious voice. With her rendition of Kadarawiya by the renowned Sudanese singer Nour El Jilani, a wave of nostalgia and a profound longing for home swept through the Sudanese attendees. People of all ages connected profoundly over this cherished song, rising to cheer, sing, dance, and applaud. Hiba herself danced with infectious joy, igniting the crowd’s enthusiasm and prompting loud calls for an encore.

Sudanese singer Hiba El Gizouli (Photo: Rana S./RD)

In his speech at the end of the day, El Mahrousa Foundation director Hani Ibrahim stressed the long history of cooperation and solidarity between Egypt and Sudan. In a self-proclaimed stance against hate speech, he told attendees: “Egypt has long been a haven for all peoples, and this never changes. Everyone is welcome in our beloved country.”

According to the latest International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Sudan Displacement Tracking Matrix, almost 515,000 people have fled Sudan to Egypt since the beginning of the war between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that approximately 4 million Sudanese people call Egypt home.