More than 5,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians built one of the greatest civilizations in human history, and the Nile River was the cornerstone on which they laid the foundations of this civilization. So they sanctified and worshiped him in gratitude for his bounty; the Nile was not embodied by one God, but became for every seasonal change, such as flood and drought, a special deity to whom sacrifices are made.
The appeasement of the river throughout history did not prevent famines due to its drying for long periods. The most prominent example is the famine named “Al-Mustansiriya” that occurred during the era of the Fatimid state, when the Nile dried up for nearly seven years (1065 AD–1071 AD), and historians wrote that the Egyptians ate each other's meat.
The low level of the Nile River, or its dryness, is the most terrifying picture that threatens the imagination of the Egyptians. During a period of time, the Nile had seven branches extending in the delta, five of which disappeared and only two remain. The waters of the Nile no longer reach the majority of the lands in the delta region, so the farmers began to use groundwater instead of river water, which affects the quality of crops.
Today, the ghost of these frightening images looms on the horizon due to the construction of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia and the accompanying possibilities of declining water that reaches Egypt at a time when it suffers from water scarcity.
Ah, for your terrible secret and your strange wandering wave
oh Nile, Oh wizard of the unseen
Immortal River song
––Mohamed Abdel Wahab, artist, 1954
Thus we recognize the immortality of the "Eternal River” in our consciousness, but today this eternity has become confused between security and absolute truth, in light of the environmental and political challenges that confront its path.
I used to meet the Nile River at the closest point from my small city in southern Egypt, and when I left my city and moved to the capital, every time I came back to visit my family, visiting my beach was no less important than seeing them. My emotional attachment to the river is shared by almost most Egyptians.
But standing on the land was no longer enough to answer my questions, so I embarked on a river cruise in which I sought a deeper and more comprehensive knowledge, transcending the poetics of sunrise and sunset.
In my project, I try to look as objectively as possible towards our water’s future. I first began to go back a little bit on the historical and geographical level to establish a balanced vision regarding the reconfiguration of the river for itself more than once, to the political conflicts and the environmental changes that play a decisive role today in determining the future of the river: our future.
And what I have done is only the beginning of a greater journey, in a river rich with different layers of challenges, and endless details that are renewed every day as the renewal of its pages and colors.