The damanga is the most important part of a family's home. Sometimes written "Damanka" or "Dabunga," it is a large storage vessel used by Sudanese farmers to preserve food. It takes women between three days and a week to build a damanga, made from mounds of a mixture of clay, water and dried grass, because each layer needs to dry before the next layer can be piled on. After the damanga is completed, it is left for two weeks to bake in the sun until it is completely dry. When it hardens, the damanga becomes very heavy and cannot be moved or carried. A hut is usually built over the damanga so as to protect it from the torrents of water during the rainy season.

Damangas are used to store crops (e.g. maize and corn) to keep them from spoiling, and these provisions can be lifesaving rations in the event of a famine. Farmers sometimes hide their money or other valuables in the bottom.

This unique aspect of Sudanese farmers' daily life gave birth to the Arabic adage "al-donya Damanka derdogo Beshaish" ("the world is like a Damanga, roll it carefully"), which essentially means that life is precious and the world is filled with danger and risk, so be careful and take it easy, or it could be destroyed (like a fragile damanga that will break if rolled hastily).

©MMVI DAMANGA