"Ya Khawaja, ya khawaja!" Top 5 Page for this destination Sudan Warnings Or Dangers Tip by maykal

Sudan Warnings and Dangers: 51 reviews and 35 photos

If you are white, then don't expect to go unnoticed. Everywhere you go, you will hear the term "khawaja" from every corner. Cross the road to your local shop, "khawaja", get on the bus, "khawaja", enter a restaurant, "khawaja, khawaja"...you don't have to do any funny dances or attempt a double backflip to get this attention...all you do is exist and behave as normal and somebody will treat you to a "khawaja".
Khawaja is the loose term for anyone who is different. The word actually comes from the old Turkish word "hoca" which means teacher, and locals will tell you it is a mark of respect. However when you hear the word hundreds of times a day, it loses all niceties and becomes just merely annoying, mildly racist. It now means something like "white person".
While there are many khawajas in Khartoum, places like Kassala don't see too many so you'll hear "khawaja" shouted a lot more there. Even though I have lived there for many months now, I am still "al-khawaja", and the name still grates every time I hear it. You can try to be amusing by replying "Sudani" or "Afriki", but they don't seem to get the humour. You can try to shout back at them, but that just gets you hot and angry, while everyone else has a good laugh at your expense.
I'm often told that I should try to fit in with the Sudanese culture more, make more of an effort...but I've got to the point where I can't be bothered...whatever I do, I'm still going to be labelled as different, always stared at, pointed at, shouted at.
My strategy nowadays is to ignore khawaja, not even look up to see who is calling it, try to block it from my brain.

Review Helpfulness: 4 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Oct 31, 2003
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