“Lord of the Fish and Birds of the Marshes” and “Lord of the River Bringing Vegetation”, Hapi is the Egyptian God of the Nile. He has one pendulous breast full of nourishment, as well as a pot-belly. He is God of the annual flood. His big belly shits out volcanic silt from the upriver plateau; silt that acts as a fertiliser for all the fields and trees bordering the Nile. But Hapi has been exiled from his own river.
As this documentary “Struggle over the Nile” shows, Nasser’s erection of the High Aswan Dam, sponsored by the Soviets in the sixties, fundamentally changed the ecology of the area.
Aswan High Dam, is an embankment dam which was built across the Nile in Aswan, Egypt, between 1960 and 1970. Its significance largely eclipsed the previous Aswan Low Dam initially completed in 1902 downstream. Based on the success of the Low Dam, then at its maximum utilization, construction of the High Dam became a key objective of the government following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952; with its ability to better control flooding, provide increased water storage for irrigation and generate hydroelectricity the dam was seen as pivotal to Egypt’s planned industrialization. Like the earlier implementation, the High Dam has had a significant effect on the economy and culture of Egypt. (Wikipedia).
Now the nourishing silt no longer reaches downriver.
Meanwhile, upstream countries in which the Nile has its sources – Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi – are building their own dams, drastically reducing the flow of the river downstream. The dams also flood huge territories, such as the home of the Nubians.
Nubian civilisation is one of the most ancient in the world. There was a Nubian dynasty of black pharaohs, and their pyramids are wonders of the world.
Nubia is being destroyed and the Nubians are being displaced and their entire existence is under threat:
“There is (a) holy mountain further north on the Nile, in a town where Ali Osman Mohamed Salih, a 72-year old professor of archaeology and Nubian studies at the University of Khartoum, was born. His parents taught him that God lives in the mountain, and that because people come from God, they too are made of the mountain. This logic links the present with the past, and a people with a place. Salih says it means, “You are as old as the mountain, and nobody can get you out of this land.”
Salih is concerned that three new hydroelectric dams that Sudan’s government has planned along the Nile might do just that — along with drowning Nubian artifacts. According to an assessment by Sudan’s National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, the reservoir created by one planned dam near the town of Kajbar would flood more than 500 archeological sites, including more than 1,600 rock etchings and drawings dating from the Neolithic period through medieval times. Estimates from activists in Sudan suggest that hundreds of thousands of people could be displaced by the dams.
Salih has protested Nile River dams before. While passing through Egypt on his way back home in 1967, he was detained in Cairo for his open opposition to the Aswan High Dam near the border of Sudan in Egypt. The dam created a 300-mile long reservoir that submerged hundreds of archeological sites, although the most grandiose were relocated to museums. It also forced more than 100,000 people — many of them Nubians — from their homes. Governments of countries along the Nile justify hydroelectric dams by pointing to a need for electricity. Today, two-thirds of Sudan’s population lacks it. However, history shows that those whose lives are uprooted are not always those who benefit from electricity and the profit it generates.” Click this link for full article
All this exacerbates the plight of Sudanese Refugees.
Hapi weeps in exile. Myanmar, Palestine, Sudan. Will Hapi now become “Lord of all displaced peoples”?
See also my previous post about Nubia