Egypt: who are the Nubians?

18 11 2009

Deborah D, 27, UK

I came across a Nubian settlement only once in my fifteen days in Egypt. Traveling along the Nile, south to north, meant that i came to Aswan, a prominent tourist spot where the effects of the rising waters of the Nile were obvious. Objects of archeological value like the statues at the Temple of Rameses II had been broken up and re-assembled further inland. As with most cyclical weather phenomena the seasonal flooding of the banks along Aswan meant that the settlers along it (the Nubians) had to learn to adapt to it. That is until the effects of overpopulation began to take hold. With more people and less available fertile land the Egyptian government decided to build a dam to control the rising waters. The dam caused the permanent flooding of lower Nubia and meant Nubians had to find a home elsewhere.
In the market places I was referred to as Nubian (because of my dark skin), my mate Alex took to calling me Nubian princess which i think he did to get a rise out of me, they were after all the most impoverished members of Egyptian society.

While visiting the settlement (which could only be accessed by boat) it became glaring obvious that there was a disparity between the average Egyptian and the average Nubian. Even though in ancient times they were of the ruling houses and Egypt had had black Pharaohs, it appeared to be that they now resided at the lower end of the societal spectrum and made a living farming and making items of touristic value. They are black while the average Egyptian is brown, they have a separate non-Arabic language, they are essentially a community of people much like the Kurds in Iraq. With no real land to call theirs and not being totally accepted by the mainstream populace, i found that they were almost entirely self sufficient. With their own schools, food supplies from farming, it seemed like only the most ambitious of them set foot outside the poverty bullpen that had been created for them by the government (inadvertently) and sought a life in the larger cities like Cairo. At least as a tourist, that’s how it seemed to me. In any country, in any society there is a class or caste system that favours one group of people but is disadvantageous to another. Most times these systems are built on the premise of race or ethnicity. Nubia exists now only in theory, the settlements and sense of community amongst the inhabitants are all that remain of a race that once had a kingdom so large, it spread from Northern Egypt into Sudan.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: