Saturday Nile Fever!

Temperature has been rising in the Nile basin since Ethiopia announced in 2011 the construction of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). On Saturday, February 11th, at the festival Let’s talk about water  we will discuss the role of different media in escalating the water war fever along the Nile. The festival will feature Ethiopian film director Theodros Teshome’s movie Abay vs Vegas, while violinist and singer Amal Guermazi will perform Egyptian songs and music about the Nile. Amal’s performance will be also a preview to the next appointment of this exciting cultural journey on the Nile, but we do not want to spoil the surprise…

abay-ys-veags-nile-fallsFalling in love with the Nile

“Abay vs. Vegas” has been one of the biggest success in the history of Ethiopian cinema. It tells the story of a love triangle that stretches from Ethiopia to the USA and promotes a righteous rural life in Lake tana, source of the Blue Nile (Abay), versus an anonymous and lascivious city life (Las Vegas). The movie suggests a metaphoric parallel between different kinds of resources flowing outside Ethiopia: migrants in the diaspora and the Nile waters. And it calls for their more effective exploitment to serve the development of the country.

theodros-teshome-abay-vs-vegasTheodros in his studios in Addis Ababa, (Ethiopia)

Theodros “Teddy” Teshome, the director also starring in the movie, will be our guest in Delft for a debate with the public. When I met Teddy in Addis in his studios, he explained me that “The movie was released in 2011, anticipating few weeks the announcement of the building of the GERD. In fact in the movie there is the character of an engineer who explains the need for buidling a dam and exploit irrigation to develop the country. We said that 85% of the Nile comes from Ethiopia, but because of the geo-morphology of the country even if we exploit all of it, we will still use only 5% of the Nile waters”.

This claim is also recalled in the final credits of the movie. A good starting point to discuss how technical issues and scientific knwoledge are communicated in popular media, and how this impacts on negotiations on transboundary waters. Nile issues are difficult to be openly debated in Egypt, Sudan and Ethipia because they are increasingly securitized, being considered an affair of national interest. Can arts and culture become a field where there is more room to express alternative views? Or rather have they been used to legitimise government official propaganda?

To continue the discussion on the role of popular culture in shaping narratives and hegemonic discourses on the Nile, as well as on how to use video to study and communicate  water governance issues. So join us in the cosy Rietveld Theather in Delft for a Saturday on the Nile and Let’s talk about water!

 


Emanuele Fantini

Emanuele (@emanufanti) is Senior Researcher at the Water Governance Chair group of UNESCO-IHE, where he works on water, politics and development in Ethiopia; media, science and water conflicts in the Nile basin; visual research methods. https://www.un-ihe.org/emanuele-fantini

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1 Response

  1. 22/02/2017

    […] week the film festival Let’s talk about water in Delft began with a journey on the Nile. We watched the comedy “Abay vs. Vegas” (2011) by Ethiopian film director Theodros […]

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