A mesaharati, also known as “the Dawn Caller of Ramadan,” is a person who wakes others up before dawn to eat before their fast during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan.
The voluntary job has been around for generations but has gone missing in big Sudanese cities, where the more significant part of the population relies on social media and satellite channels to stay up late till Suhur on their own, without the need for a mesaharati.
Suhur is the meal consumed by Muslims before dawn breaks, and they start fasting during Ramadan.
In today’s Sudan, mesaharatis can only be found in the countryside, where the phenomenon is honored as a celebration of religious and cultural heritage in the North African nation.
“The countryside still enjoys calm nights and people there sleep early. It is as it was in the past,” said the President of the National Union for Folklore Heritage Salah El-Din Faragallah.
“Moreover, houses are built close to each other in the countryside,” he added.
Faragallah then explained that these factors help make it easier for the mesaharati to play their role.
Additionally, Faragallah links the survival of the mesaharati in the countryside to a local desire for preserving the traditional features of Ramadan.
He said the mesaharati gives those fasting in the countryside a sense of “activity and vitality,” especially when reciting rhymes and jokes while waking them up for Suhur.
In the few minutes when the mesaharati gets to do their job, the locals have an opportunity to relive their heritage, added Faragallah.
There is no specific age when a person can become a mesaharati, which is why you can find youths volunteering for the job in the Sudanese countryside.
On the matter of mesaharatis being exclusive to the countryside, Eziddine Omar, aged 19, argued that the dawn callers of Ramadan still made trips to the outskirts of Sudanese cities.