Connections #2 – Walking away

The second of a micro-essay series inspired by the photos of #EverydayNile, drawing connections among people, places, waters, and stories along the Nile river.

Three figures are turning their back to the camera, walking away from the photographer and, maybe, also from the Nile river.

In the first photo, Mekonnen Teshome pictures a men bending under the weight of a small tree carried on his shoulders. The tree will be planted on the banks of the Jamma river, a tributary of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, to fight against soil erosion. In spite of being called the Blue Nile, most of the time the river has a brown colour because of the sediments (rocks, soil, minerals) that it flushes away from the Ethiopian highlands.

Mekonnen Teshome, Washing away the blue gold of Ethiopia

The second photo is taken by Asmaa Gamal in Upper Egypt, homeplace of her family, where the grandfather used to grow sugar cane. A lady wearing a long black dress and a scarf coloured like the soil, carries a plastic bucket with water taken from the Nile river. Close up on the right of the frame, we glimpse a second figure, with a similar dress but holding the bucket straight on her head with a hand: a particular that highlights the mastery of equilibrium of the first woman, whose walking move contrasts the stillness of the bucket.

Asmaa Gamal, Finding the Sugarland (Egypt)

In the third photo, by Martha Tadesse, we meet again the fisherman featured on his boat on the Baro river (Ethiopia) in the first of these Connections. Now the fisherman walks away from the river carrying, with the help of a colleague, the fruit of his work: a huge Nile perch fish hanging on a wooden stick. The head of one of the fishermen is turned towards his comrade, as if he was commenting the achievement of the day. The other fisherman slightly bows his head, to balance the weight of the fish and perhaps reflecting on how much it will yield a return.

Martha Tadesse, It is still home (Ethiopia)

The stories of #EverydayNile happen at the margins of the big narratives about the Nile river, often contested and securitised, like those surrounding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. When it comes to the Nile, in Egypt and Ethiopia alike, I have witnessed a reluctance to publicly engage and being seen, unless you fully support the government’s official discourse. At first sight, I thought that the act of walking away and turning the back to the camera could be interpreted as a form of disengagement from the politically loaded discourses on the Nile river. Afterwards, I lingered on what these figures carry on their shoulders or heads, and I realised that they all have a purpose for walking away. Rather than towards disengagement, the paths that these figures are following can lead us to the discovery of new Nile stories.

Connections is a series combining Emmanuel Iduma’s format of micro-essays elicited by sequences of photos, with #EverydayNile photo-stories. If you have enjoyed this micro-essay, I invite you to check also the first post of this series, as well as the rest of #EverydayNile photos and send me your Connections at e.fantini@un-ihe.org !



Cite this blog post
Emanuele Fantini (2023, July 14). Connections #2 – Walking away. FLOWs. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/os2z

Emanuele Fantini

Emanuele (@emanufanti) is senior lecturer and researcher at the Water Governance Department of IHE Delft. Committed to public engagement and crossover projects with artists and journalists, Emanuele coordinates the project “Open Water Diplomacy. Media, science and transboundary cooperation in the Nile basin”, he hosts the podcasts “The Sources of the Nile”, “Water Alternatives Podcast”, and “Si dice acqua”, and he is the editor of IHE Delft Water Governance Blog, FLOWs.

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