The Kau Tragedy is a story written by Abbas Mustafa Sadiq. The story - in addition to A Village on the Nile, also written by the same author - was said to have earned him a precious prize from the German Broadcasting Voice. Reflecting the cultural ceremonies in the area, illiteracy, impoverishment and drought, The Kau Tragedy is centred on a young man, called Hirbu, from the Nuba Mountains. Hirbu, so the story runs, prepared himself bodily and psychologically to announce his betrothal to a local girl named Sara. In the day of his engagement, Hirbu decorated his face with coloured material, put a copper bracelet on his wrist, took his ax-like stick, put on a leopard skin around his waist and hang a necklace - full of glittering beads - around his neck.

When the Kujour emerged from his hut, Hirbu sat in front of him amid the trilling of village women surrounding Sara whose body was transferred into an artwork of beautiful colours, and anointed with nice-smelling oil. The Kujour performed the rituals in an unintelligible language. There was a moment of silence. He drew some milk into his mouth, and sprayed on the faces of the bride and bridegroom. He used a small knife to cut a gash on Hirbu’s wrist and did the same on Sara’s. He then put one wound on another until both bloods were mixed together. There was more trilling from the women, and shouting from the crowd after which the Kujour declared the betrothal of the couple.

Before the conditions became conducive to the wedding of the couple, Musa the Kujour suddenly died. No sooner had the Kujour died than Hirbu realized that he was haunted by a strange feeling. He felt that his body was lighter than it used to be. He also felt - as if in a dream - that he became a different person, and he did not sleep the night before. He kept trembling. He remained in this situation for seven days. In the last night, Hirbu saw, while sleeping, a mysterious thing - his mother giving birth to himself as normal as the women did. He came pushing from his mother’s womb after she rubbed her stomach with scented oil as she was told while he was still a foetus. Hirbu woke up and told his mother about the dream. The villagers also heard about the episode, and believed him because they held an idea that as soon as the Kujour died, the new Kujour would be born. A day after day, Hirbu was filled with the feelings that he was transformed into a different person. He became quiet, silent and sticking to himself. He chose to lead the life of a recluse even from Sara, his sweetheart.

The people of Kau began descending upon his house, blessing and welcoming him as their new spiritual Kujour. But the poor man, according to the writer, did not know that he became a Kujour in a difficult time because he had to prepare himself for a long, tumultuous journey. He had to - since that moment on, and according to his people’s traditions - think how to bring rain to them. Then came the day the people of Kau, including Hirbu, had long waited for. Hirbu had to ascertain his capability, and achieve his people’s dream and bring them rain, but he did not live up to their dream. As the days passed on sadly, the drought consumed all that left of streams. The people of Kau could not think of anything else rather than departure. Hirbu’s life was shattered by displacement from his village to a city where he got lost in the wilderness of urban community.

* Summarized from the Khartoum-based daily al-Wifaq, February 20, 1999.