“A Saturday on the Nile”: one river, many representations.

An old adage says “Whoever drinks from the Nile will always return to it”. That’s why – after last year’s success –  on February 10 we are going to have another “Saturday on the Nile” at the film festival Let’s talk about water!

And since we are always thirsty when it comes to the Nile, we will binge-watch from 15h00 to 22h00 a heterogenous selection of Nile related videos, movies and documentaries. The goal is to explore how the river has been represented by different authors – journalists, researchers, filmakers – from within and outside the Nile basin. This will be also an opportunity to address some of the questions raised by Michelle Kooy in her previous post interrogating “northern theorizations” of urban water governance in the “global south”.

In fact, our exploration will begin on friday February 9, 12h30 with a lecture by Terje Tvedt, professor of Geography and Global History at the University of Bergen, in Norway. In his book “The river Nile in the age of the British”, he argues that the Nile basin, highly heterogeneous from the natural, social and cultural point of view, begun to be conceived as an unitary basin in terms of politics and infrastructures under the British colonial rule. Is this colonial legacy still shaping the contemporary efforts to promote an integrated approach at basin level?  What about the Nile Basin Initiative, created with the funds and support of international donors like the World Bank?

Perhaps we will find an answer in Terje Tvedt’s documentary The Nile Quest (2014). Part 3 “War or Peace” will be screened friday 9, 19h30 at the Filmhuis Lumen in Delft. Part 1 “The river of history” and Part 2 “Revolt at the sources” will open our Saturday on the Nile at the Faile Begijnhof Theater (Rietveld 49, Delft, at 15h00).

After that, the Faile Begijnhof Theater will be transformed in an echo chamber of media debates in the Eastern Nile basin. “Smile on the Nile” (Ethiopia 2017) by Dagim Terefe, “Coherence and aggression” (Sudan 2017) by Ishraga abd Arrhman, and “Hate speech on the banks of the Timeless River” (Egypt 2018) by Safaa Salah are the videos made by the Water Journalists Africa team to portay Nile talks in the Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese media. The videos are produced by the project Open Water Diplomacy. Media, science and transboudary cooperation in the Nile basin, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The titles of the videos already indicate the contrasting emotions dominating Nile media debates in the three countries. And emotions are important indeed when it comes to hydropolitics, as we have been discussing with Wondwosen Michago Seide (University of Lund) in the last episode of the podcast “The Sources of the Nile”.

After dinner we will celebrate the winners of the Water Governance Video Award! Every year the students of IHE Master program in Water Management and Governance have to produce short videos on different water governance topics. This year all the students’ teams did a great job and we will have the pleasure to watch and reward the two winners of the “popular” and “expert” vote.

And for the unquenchable thirsty we will conclude with the Hollywood gaze on the Nile. “The Mountains of the Moon” (USA 1990) directed by Bob Rafelson, tells the story of 19th century British explorers Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke searching for the sources of the Nile. The movie trailer already shows a lot about how the explorers and the local people they encounter are portayed. Are we sure that this orientalist imaginary has completely faded away when western media report on the “next water war that will be fought over the Nile”?

Join us at the Falie Begijnhof Theater in Delft for A Saturday on the Nile, to watch, discuss and enjoy good company, food and music!

 


Emanuele Fantini

Emanuele (@emanufanti) is lecturer and researcher at the Water Governance Chair group of IHE Delft. He works on water, politics and development in Ethiopia; media, science and water conflicts in the Nile basin; visual research methods. Emanuele hosts the podcast "The sources of the Nile" https://nilewaterlab.org/podcast-the-sources-of-the-nile/

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