Connections #3 – Where the river ends

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

The first experiment of #EverydayNile took place in February 2019 in Delft with an exhibition featuring photos by Roger Anis (Egypt), Ahmed Saeed (Sudan), and Michael Tsegaye (Ethiopia). This Connection between three of their photos was elicited by a comment by Alis Okonji, a communication specialist formerly at InfoNile, to the previous micro-essay of this series. Looking at the four persons turning their back to the camera, and walking away from the river, she commented that “it is interesting that all of them walking away, are carrying a piece of the river with them”.

Sometimes it can be difficult to clearly define what actually constitutes a river – just water or also the creatures living inside or by that water – and identify its boundaries. In his book “The Invention of Rivers” (2019), architect Dilip Da Cunha argues that our understanding of rivers emerged from the enduring human act of drawing an artificial line on a map to separate water from land and air. Among the first photos of #EverydayNile I found three mesmeric representations of the Nile river that challenge such rigid separation.

Roger Anis, The Nile near Cairo (Egypt)

The first photo, by Roger Anis, pictures the river early in the morning, flowing towards Cairo and evaporating in the light blue sky. The river and the sky share the same shades. They can be distinguished by the inhabitants of the space: fishermen with their boats near some vegetation in the river, and a flock dotting the sky. On the left side, behind the haze – or the smog? – we recognise the waterfront of Cairo. Towards the centre of the photos the shapes of the buildings vanish in the water and in the air, making impossible to tell where the river ends and the city begins.

Ahmed Saeed, The Nile at the sunset near Khartoum (Sudan)

The second photo was taken by Ahmed Saeed at the sunset near Khartoum. On the right, the river and its banks dissolve in a taupe sky, in a sharp contrast with the dark silhouettes of the boats and the vegetation on another bank of the river on the left. Like in the first photo, the haze blurs the demarcation line of the river in an airy blend of water, land, and sky.

Michael Tsegaye, Lake Tana (Ethiopia)

Michael Tsegaye took the third photo at the twilight on Lake Tana, in Ethiopia, where the sources of the Blue Nile are located. Here the waters disappear in the darkness of the bank. We distinguish only the silhouette of a tree and we are let with a sense of mystery to imagine what lies in the dark corner of the photo. Is it one of the islands of the lake? Or the spot where the sources of the Nile are located? Sometimes it can be difficult to tell not only where the river ends, but also where it begins.

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 and second 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 28). Connections #3 – Where the river ends. FLOWs. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/os30

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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