Some Nubians self-identify as Africans, Afro-Arabs, Nubian-Egyptians, or simply Nubians
Nubians are descendants of the ancient African civilization of Kush, which was situated between what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan, known for its famed “Black Pharaohs” and pyramids. Nubians in Egypt today are still influenced by the changes of the initial Arab invasions, foreign occupations from the Ottoman and British empires as well as more recent migrations from the surrounding regions and countries.
The Nubian people are descended from an ancient African civilization that once ruled a large empire, including all of Egypt for a brief period. For thousands of years they have lived on the banks of the Nile river, from southern Egypt to northern Sudan.
Christianity penetrated the region in the 4th century, but most Nubian’s converted to Islam in the 15th and 16th centuries, as they came under the sway of Arab powers. When Sudan seceded from Egypt in 1956, the Nubian community was split between the two countries.
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Mostafa Hefny has been fighting the US government for decades to be classified as black. The US erroneously classifies all Egyptians as white. Hefny has faced discrimination and ridicule for his quest to be classified as black. Yet he makes his case for the authentic blackness of ancient Egypt and challenges the historical falsehoods that have propagated since the 19th century.
–National Geographic Image
Despite efforts to save Nubian monuments, much of this rich history was washed away by the construction of a series of dams, culminating with the Aswan high dam in 1970. Most of the Nubian homeland now sits under the reservoir called Lake Nasser. Tens of thousands of Nubians were forcibly resettled. Ever since then they have been marginalized politically, socially and economically, says Maja Janmyr of the University of Bergen.
The Abu Simbel temples are two massive rock temples at Abu Simbel, a village in Nubia, southern Egypt, near the border with Sudan. They are situated on the western bank of Lake Nasser, about 230 km southwest of Aswan.
Some believe there is an official effort, beginning with the displacements, to wipe out Nubian culture. The state has long cultivated a single, Arab identity. (The census, for example, does not record ethnic data.) As Nubians were uprooted and spread out, many lost touch with their heritage. Few who were born in cities such as Cairo, Alexandria and Suez speak the Nubian language. “If we don’t return soon to our home, we will only be Nubians by colour,” says Mr Oddoul, referring to Nubians’ generally darker skin.
With the help of the internet, and through art and music, younger Nubians have tried to reinvigorate their culture. They have also organised protests and lawsuits against Mr Sisi’s decree. This has led to tension between Nubians. “The older generation is more accommodating of the state,” says Mr Azmy. They are also more patriotic: many supported the dam because they thought it would benefit Egypt. Yet they have little to show for their patriotism. The least the government could do is let Nubians go home.
FROM a boat on the reservoir between Egypt’s high and low dams in Aswan, a local Nubian man called Haj Omar points to where the ancient temple of Philae used to be.
–Philae Temple Aswan
This beautiful temple complex is one of the most picturesque in all of Egypt. It sits on Aglika Island just south of the old Aswan Dam and you must ride a water taxi to the island to get to theruins. The temple was moved to its current location following the construction of the High Dam, which threatened to submerge it permanently. –Tour Egypt
After the low dam was completed in 1902, the site was often flooded, so in the 1960s the temple was moved, piece by piece, to higher ground some 500 metres downriver. Mr Omar then points down, towards his grandfather’s house—it was not moved and is now underwater.
The Nubian community often endures color, language and cultural discrimination – a feeling of being perceived as ‘other’
Cars and micro-buses conveyed the participants on Saturday morning from Balana village, blaring Nubian music and displaying signs and posters with slogans, including: “Nubia Is Not For Sale!”
Online, some Nubians compared the action to the Native American protest at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, inspiring them to use the Facebook check-in feature to demonstrate solidarity.
“The state has reduced Nubian land by 110,000 feddan (acres) to sell it in the 1.5 million feddan national project,” said Azmy, who is also a prominent lawyer for Nubian rights. “This is a clear attempt to change the demographics before starting Nubian resettlement [to their historical homeland].”
“This land was originally ours and this is our constitutional right and the state can’t sell us our land,” Azmy said, adding that “[Sisi’s] response came quickly because we had good media coverage and because the march was a clear standoff between us and the state. It was an attempt to keep us quiet.”
Nubians have endured a series of displacements by dams since 1902, with the first being under British rule and the last in 1963-64 with the Aswan High Dam, which was arguably the most devastating.
While the government of charismatic then-president Gamal Abdel Nasser promoted the project as a “development dream of progress” for the nation, Nubians paid the price for it by being sent to the harsh, arid and undeveloped region Nasr al-Nuba, significantly farther from their old homes along the Nile.
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Black Egyptians Today. Lower Nubia has been part of Egypt for 5,000 years, and yet back in the 1980s, there was a debate on the controversiality of the thought that Ancient Egyptians could have been Black Africans. Today, the debate is pretty much being settled, with Egyptologists recognizing the Nubian origins of early Egypt.
In Kenya, there are is a group of Nubians who have been separated from other Nubians for many generations. They are called the Kenyan Nubians, Kenya’s 43rd Tribe, and have a registered governance structure called the Council of Elders of the Kenyan Nubians
A Sensitive & Controversial Topic
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