Nubia is a land that once stretched
the Nile (at Aswan) to southern Sudan. The Nubians, who are a mix of
African, Arab and other Mediterranean peoples, lived in the Nile Valley
in southern Egypt for over a thousand years. Although parts of Nubia
were dominated by Egypt politically, other parts developed into great
kingdoms. One such Nubian monarchy even ruled Egypt as its twenty-fifth
The Nubian people were uprooted from their land in 1971 when one
of the world's highest dams, the Aswan, was built on the Nile to
control the flow of flood waters. The Nubians' traditional homeland was
flooded and many communities were resettled north of Aswan in present
day Egypt. Many anthropologists believed that the Nubian
heritage–aspects of their culture such as their distinct language and
culture–was doomed with the building of the Aswan dam. Instead, many
Nubians flooded into Cairo, bringing their colorful heritage with them.
The Nubian culture is passed from generation to generation, and resonates
particularly strongly in its music. Drums and clapping hands dominated
the music of old Nubia. Now, musicians are plugging in new instruments.
The new style Nubian music has a growing number of fans both inside and
outside the Nubian community, and a culture that some predicted would wash
away with the Nile River has instead taken Egypt by storm.
In the villages of northern Africa, most women dance as a social activity,
at weddings for example, in all-female groups. The character of this dance
style is different in the big cities, particularly in Egypt where the dance
has reached its most highly developed form. Top dancers achieve the status
of movie stars because of the prominence of the entertainment industry.
The reserve and dignity of the Nubian people shows through the poetry
and song. Here is an excerpt from a song by acclaimed Nubian musician,
Hamza el-Din, expressing the love a Nubian feels for his lost country.
Raks at Balad el-Aman (Dance of Nubia)
In Nubia, our paradise,
The girls must go to the river to fetch water.
I can see you going with your sister in the mountains.
I can imagine how you will be talking very seriously to one another.
Nubia, our beautiful Nubia is the land I love and will always remember...