Commemoration of Kajbar

We have often commemorated persons and events from our blog. This week is a really special one. I could write about my own five-years’ adventure since I came to Bergen, which coincided with a commemorative seminar for Tomas Hägg, both on the 11th of June 2008. Or about the fact that our second son is already one month old – on the 11th of June again!!

But I am afraid that today I cannot write about happy commemorations. The reason is that six years ago, at Kajbar, in the Third Cataract region of the Sudanese Nile, that national security forces shot to death four demonstrators against the plans to build a dam in their land. The plans for this and other dams are still on the agenda of the Sudanese government, so the Nubia Project and the Sudanese Marginalized Forum invite to a demonstration in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington between 14:00 and 15:00 local time on Friday. For more details, see HERE.

Strangely enough, the solution to the dams’ crisis might be given by a … dam in Ethiopia: the building of the Renaissance dam can provide the energy that Sudan seeks to produce by damming the Middle Nile. This is perhaps why the Sudanese do not disprove officially of the project, but invite to an international dialogue. This, however, irrespectively of whether the governments of both North and South Sudan cannot come to a dialogue but are accusing each other for supporting rebel groups in the neighbor’s territory, to the extent that recently Al Bashir threatened to close the oil-pipelines and the Southerners denied the accusations and warned that such acts would cause irreversible damages to the natural environment…

Egypt’s reactions to the Renaissance dam are more like the belligerent face of the politics in the Sudan: the “gift of the Nile” is extremely “thirsty” and the fears for a dam in Ethiopia are perennial in the downstream end of the River Nile. Anwar Sadat had already threatened with war if anyone would “deprive” the Egyptians from the life-giving water of the Nile! This time again, the Egyptian reactions touched the grotesque: threats of going in war against Ethiopia from members of Mursi’s cabinet in Egypt aired live on TV!

It is clear that there is a lot of work to be done before stability prevails in the region. The role of inter-regional and inter-national affairs is very crucial. On the topics of the preservation of the cultural landscape that concerns us here most, what strikes us is the way the experience from the past dams has not taught much to the stakeholders of the cultural heritage in Sudan. In our next entry, we will see such a paradox in the planning of archaeological work along the Middle Nile. And this will bring us back to the discussion of the principles of funding fieldwork in the Sudan.

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