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Preserving cultural heritage: Nuba Wrestling in Yida Camp

Hajooj Kuka
Despite everyday hardship in the camp, refugees in Yida organise regular Nuba Wrestling competitions. Every Tuesday the cultural event draws hundreds of spectators.
6.03.2013  |  Yida

The Yida refugee camp hosts about 65,000 people from the Nuba Mountains region. They fled a violent conflict that erupted in June 2011 between Sudan’s government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).

Despite everyday hardship in the camp, an old cultural practice is kept alive. Every Tuesday people gather to witness Nuba Wrestling.

The residents of Yida camp believe that wrestling teaches discipline, and is therefore a valuable sport for their children. But more importantly, the Nubians want to keep this tradition afloat, since many Nubians view the ongoing conflict as a war on their cultural identity.

Wrestling was already extremely popular with the ancient Egyptians, who documented the sport of Nuba Wrestling in their wall drawings and iconography. They traced this martial sport to the Nubians of Sudan” -- a term used loosely back then to refer to brown or black-skinned people living further south.

Hajooj Kuka visited the Yida camp last year and captured the wrestling Nubians: