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Egypt's Nubians refuse to allow heritage to fall through cracks of history

Faced with threats from damming projects, Arabization and marginalization, Nubian communities in Egypt and abroad are exerting efforts to preserve their language and unique cultural heritage.
A Nubian boy rides a camel at the Nile river bank in Aswan, some 1200 km (746 miles) south of Cairo, March 25, 2007. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic   (EGYPT) - RTR1NWNI

It has been 51 years since the Nubians were displaced by the 1964 building of the Aswan High Dam in southern Egypt. Back then, waters flooded their homes and ancient Nubia disappeared into the depths of Lake Nasser. Yet, the Nubian people refused to allow their heritage and culture to be forever lost under the water that flows behind the High Dam.

In the town of Kom Ombo in the Aswan governorate there is the village of Balana (meaning “beautiful queen” in Nubian), the inhabitants of which were the first to be displaced as the High Dam rose. Amina Ibrahim, a village woman in her 60s, still carries vivid memories of the old country that thrived on the banks of the Nile — memories that form the essence of stories about her family’s heritage and past, which she never hesitates to recount to neighbors, sons and grandsons.

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