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Hakamat and Peacebuilding 2004-2012

Nadine Rea Intisar Adam
p. 155-167


Five years after the secession of South Sudan from Sudan, peace building activities in Sudan have not yet come to an end and violent conflicts in Sudan have not stopped – rather, they intensified – while international attention has shifted to other regions of the world. Darfur remains a crisis region, and the southern, eastern, and western edges of the Sudan are still conflict-ridden, even increasingly so. This article looks into how peacebuilding projects engaged Hakamat – female singers and poets – to spread the message of peace between 2004 and 2012. This international involvement was influenced by two things: the image of Hakamat among the riverine North Sudanese and the international peacebuilding community as `troublemakers´; and the fact that they contradict the image of women as passive victims of violent conflicts. It was for these reasons that the Hakamat became a `hot topic´ with organizations working in Darfur. Although the issue was not prominently reported in the newspapers, the organizations working on peacebuilding in Sudan worked keenly with the women singers and poets known as `Hakamat´, who are said to influence the violent conflict in Darfur through their songs and poetry. The Hakamat perhaps first gained the attention of these organizations as potential peacebuilding actors and participants in peacebuilding workshops because of their `extraordinary´ role as women who can influence issues that were regarded as `male affairs´: that is, conflict and violence. Equally, the Government of Sudan also sought to involve the Hakamat in its political processes in Darfur since the late 1980s.
This article is based on an unpublished Diploma thesis (Adam 2013), the research for which was carried out in the Greater Khartoum area between August 2012 and April 2013.

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Consulter cet article


Becoming and Being a Hakama
The Hakamat and the War in Darfur
Hakamat Peacebuilding
The Economy of Building Peace

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When I returned to Sudan for research purposes in 2015, and while gathering information for my new project, I came across a video produced for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the Social Good Summit in New York in September 2015. This video, which was entitled `UNDP and Turning Tables present: Hakamat Calling Sudan´, is set in North Kordofan. The women in the video are singing about the land, the rain; or, as Vimeo puts it,

This video is shot in North Kordofan State in Sudan, which is suffering from rapid desertification as a product of Global Warming and humanly invoked deforestation. In North Kordofan, Turning Tables engaged a group of Hakamat – traditional female war chanters – and challenged them to make a song about what is happening to the land, why the men are leaving, how the women undertake all the work and how the scarcity of resources inflicts their lives. (UNDP, Turning Tables 2015)

I was directe...

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Nadine Rea Intisar Adam, « Hakamat and Peacebuilding 2004-2012 », Égypte/Monde arabe,Troisième série, 14 | 2016, mis en ligne le 21 octobre 2018, consulté le 22 janvier 2019. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/ema.3595

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Nadine Rea Intisar Adam

Ms. Adam studied Development Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria, where she graduated with distinction in 2013. After an internship on labour laws and human rights in Costa Rica, she joined the International Max Planck Research School on Retaliation, Mediation and Punishment (IMPRS REMEP) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology as a PhD candidate in 2014 with her research project “Gender and Art in the Quest for Peace”.

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