The Sudanese proverb raises the question: Does the fool drown in his search for water or is he saved by it? And who is, in fact, this fool? Given the wasteful and unfair dealings of mankind with this dwindling resource – aren’t we all? While doing research on water, The Niles correspondents in South Sudan and Sudan met fishermen who deal carefully with the water that nourishes them and business people who exploit the resource without restraint. They report on conflicts around water but also on exemplary projects where water is shared peacefully. In short, the fool is still swimming, but for how long?
Beach Boys Tourism & Swimming in Sudan 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 theniles6_20151123.indd 20 2015/11/23 2:13 PM
The Niles 21 Waiting for the twilight hour at the Red Sea Photo: laif “My hatred to water changed into love” Sudan’s list of swimming world champions includes Sultan Kijab, Sara Jadallah, Mamdouh Mustafa and others. But the country’s once strong record for swimming has waned over the past two decades. Now a tentative revival is underway for 26-year-old Ahmed Adam Abdelrahman of Atbara, one of Sudan’s newest swimming champions. Hassan Faroog | Khartoum Tell us about your relationship with water. How did it evolve? You may not believe me, but when I was small I used to loathe water. My parents forced me to go to the swimming pool to learn how to swim when I was six years old. They had their reasons. We lived near the Nile and they feared I could go there with my friends and drown because I did not know how to swim. I was terrified of the idea of going into the water. I screamed and ran away, but at my parents’ insistence, I gradually adapted and learnt to swim. Since then I haven’t stopped swimming, though my dreams and aspirations have changed. When did your hatred of water morph into passion? When I won my first swimming championship for juniors, I realised I wanted to excel at this sport. My connection with water and swimming grew stronger and my hatred changed into love. I would spend hours in the water. Describe your experience at local swimming championships? I took part in many championships. The last of these were four long-distance competitions in the Nile and I won in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014. In April 2015, I was named the best Sudanese swimmer in pools for three consecutive years. Does your participation in all these championships yield any revenue? I receive incentives for participating in local and international championships. Although these are far from lucrative, they give me moral support. Do you participate in international training camps or train solely inside Sudan? We held a training camp in Dubai in 2014, but we did not do it this year because it coincided with the Republic Championship. In general, we do take part in such camps. There are few media reports about your competitions. How do you feel about that? I think it is a real problem. We have all of these swimming activities, but they are not celebrated in the media, neither in newspapers nor audiovisual outlets. This is negligence. Sudan participates in a lot of championships, but the results are poor especially in international appearances? We can compete in the Arab and African championships, but it is impossible to compete in the World Championships. Neither the Arabs nor the Africans, with the exception of South Africa, have been a success in international competitions. The champion Ahmed Adam Abdelrahman Photo: Hassan Faroog “We want to participate in the Olympic Games in Rio.” What about international championships? I took part in the World Championship in Australia in 2007, the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, the Open Water Championship in Abu Dhabi in 2013 and the Arab Games in Qatar in 2015. I also took part in Sharm Al-Sheikh Championship in 2013 and the Dubai Championship, which held the qualifications for the 2015 World Championship in Kazan, Russia. And how was your performance within Africa? Our results in Africa are good, especially in the qualifying stages held in Botswana recently. Winning in these stages will enable us to participate in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Finally, which international champion do you look up to most? The Tunisian World Champion Osama Al-Mellouli. He is my friend and we remain in touch. What difficulties did you face? None. Fortunately, we have a strong, local association in Atbara headed by Hashem Hussein who managed to overcome all the difficulties that we ran into. “It is my first time at the sea and it is charming.” Ground view: the small glass boat is a big tourist attraction in Port Sudan A chat with visitors at the seaside Interviews & photos: Abdalhady Al-Hag | Port Sudan 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Salah Al-Toum from Kassala, Kassala state: “I always like to spend my holidays at Port Sudan where I enjoy this lovely seaside environment. I have been to the sea several times in recent years and I like sitting on the beach and having seafood.” Mohammad Mokhtar from Khartoum: “Whenever I have the chance, I like to come to Port Sudan to enjoy the beautiful marine atmosphere. I have been to the city several times and I like seafood and having a cruise on board the glass boat.” Mosaab Mustafa from Khartoum: “I am very excited about being at the beach for the first time. The glass boat is a new experience for me.” Nasr El-Din Adam from Barah, North Korodofan state: “This is the first time I have been to Port Sudan. What I have found here is much more beautiful than I expected and sitting on this long beach is a new experience for me.” Ali Mohsen from Khartoum: “This is my first time at the sea although I have always imagined what it would be like here. It is fascinating and the most amazing thing I have seen is the coral reefs through the glass boat.” Al-Mahi Al-Amin from Shendi, River Nile state: “I have enjoyed the seaside here a lot. It is the first time I have been to the sea and it is charming. I have enjoyed seafood and seeing the coral reefs.” Merghani Hamad from Kassala, Kassala state: “This is my second visit to Port Sudan. I have enjoyed sitting on the beach and watching the lovely marine nature.” theniles6_20151123.indd 21 2015/11/23 2:13 PM