…in the Nilo-Saharan Linguistics’ Colloquium

A week has passed since the Nilo-Saharan Linguistics’ Colloquium in Cologne was concluded. Life in Bergen is not boring us at all, but it is also true that the contacts with the colleagues from the colloquium are still very heated with lots of plans await ahead.

To start with, and as promised in the previous entry, I attach hereby a copy of the pamphlet presenting in more details the new online journal “Dotawo”:

It would be difficult to predict either what sort of publications will characterize the journal or how it will find its place among the several printed periodical publications on Nubian and Sudan Studies already available. For what concerns Old Nubian texts, though, an idea of the sort of publications one would expect to see has been given by the book on the Miracle of Saint Mina by Vincent van Gerven Oei: together with the original text and the translation in English (or another modern language), a translation in a modern Nubian language is strongly wished by those working with Nubian and Old Nubian texts and languages. The example given by El-Shafie El-Guzuuli in the aforementioned Saint Mina publication has set very high standards. His presentation in Cologne last Friday was also warmly welcomed.

El-Shafie El-Guzuuli

And he was not the only one to enlighten the interested researchers present with in depth analyses of the Nubian languages (Shafie spoke about Andaandi, the correct term for what has been called the Dongolawi Nubian dialect). Both local and foreign scholars had very useful contributions to make on Tabaq, Nobiin, Dongolawi, Kenzi, Uncunwee, Kadaru, on proverbs and on loanwords, on nouns, verbs, and terminology. All useful for the understanding of both modern Nubian languages and for throwing of course light on elements of Old Nubian too. An important note: in total, there were more Sudanese contributors in the panels of the colloquium’s program than there were foreigners!

However, it should also be noted that in the studies of Old Nubian the contributions by locals have remained marginal. Or at least not accessible to non-Arabic speaking researchers. We hope that both conditions in Sudanese universities, efforts by the diaspora and online venues like our blog, the journal Dotawo, and the reopening of the webpage arkamani will help towards this direction.

In the framework of our blog, it is important also to commemorate the very vivid presence and the high-quality interventions of ustaz Mohamed Jalal Hashim from Sai Island. We are very much looking forward to seeing how and when his book on folk tales from Sai Island will become available to a wider public and perhaps also in an English translation (from Arabic).

It is always fine to remember that all these studies do not take place in a vacuum, but that they are well anchored in a still lived experience, that of the Nubian natural and cultural landscape. In this frame of mind, it was a fine coincidence that at the same time with the Nilo-Saharan colloquium there took place in the Kölnisches Stadtmuseum an exhibition titled “Köln/Nil“.

Köln/Nil @ Stadtmuseum

It dealt with the adventures of the architect Franz Christian Gau, who traveled between 1818 and 1820 from his home town in Cologne, through his beloved Paris, then from Italy south to Egypt, and finally upstream the Nile until the Sudanese Nubia (he returned to Europe through the Holy Land). The outcome of Gau’s travels was a very interesting publication titled “Antiquités de la Nubie ou monuments inédits des bords du Nil, situés entre la premiére et la seconde cataracte, dessinés et mesurés, en 1819“. We were guided through this exhibition by the Egyptologist Heinz Felber, whom we knew from the 2006 Cologne Fourth Nile Cataract Archaeology Conference.

Last but not least, a great “thank you” goes to professor Angelika Jakobi who made our stay in Germany last week so pleasant and productive! We can only hope that we get similar treatment in the future and in such a beautiful city like Cologne.

sykkeltaxi & dom

Returning to Bergen and walking over Puddefjordsbroen on the way to the University, one can see these days again like every year the cruise ships that bring tourists to the beautiful coasts of Western Norway. I was reminded of last year, when I was working for Bergen Sykkeltaxi and I found this photo, a nice way to bring the present blog entry to an end.

Nevertheless, the most appropriate way to conclude this entry is by reference to my present job: the organization and cataloguing of the archive of professor O’Fahey, the most renown specialist on the history of Darfur who retired today leaving Sudan Studies in Bergen poorer and in want for future recruitment…

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