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Sudan / Peoples /
Nubians



Nubians: Boatman in Aswan, Egypt.
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Boatman in Aswan, Egypt. Photo: Son of Groucho.

From the Nubian museum in Aswan, a typical Nubian village scene.
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From the Nubian museum in Aswan, a typical Nubian village scene.

From the Nubian museum in Aswan, a typical Nubian village scene.
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From the Nubian museum in Aswan, a typical Nubian village scene.

Nubians: Ancient inscription in the rocks of Elephantine, Aswan, Egypt. It may have been a sign for the border to Nubia.
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Ancient inscription in the rocks of Elephantine, Aswan, Egypt. It may have been a sign for the border to Nubia.

People of northern Sudan and southern Egypt.
With a history and traditions which can be traced to the dawn of civilization, the Nubian first settled along the banks of the Nile from Aswan south of Egypt to the 6th cataract just south of Khartoum (capital of Sudan).
Along this great river they developed one of the oldest and greatest civilizations in Africa. Until they lost their last kingdom (Christian Nubia) only 5 centuries back the Nubians remained as the main rivals to the other great African civilization of Egypt. This great civilization is one of the main concerns of contemporary archaeologists, scholars, museums and universities around the world.
Although Sudan had remained the main homeland of Nubians through their long history, many of their descendants today Egypt. But still the majority of Nubians of today are Sudanese. With only a population of slightly above 300,000 they are a minority in both countries. Nevertheless being of African descent they resemble other Sudanese people more than Egyptians.
Nubians in both Sudan and Egypt have suffered a lot from intentional overlooking to their history and culture as well as displacement, relocation due to flooding and inundation of their homeland by dams constructed south of Egypt. During this century the Nubian homeland had been inundated three times, however the 1960 Nubian exodus is the most painful to all Nubians. Following the construction of Aswan High Dam in 1960 the land of Nubia between Aswan in Egypt and the 4th cataract in Sudan (main area of Nubians) was the subject of flooding and inundation. Nubians were displaced and relocated in other areas in both Sudan and Egypt. Great Nubian monuments and historical sites were drowned and lost for good.
The influx of Arabs to Egypt and Sudan had contributed to the suppression of the Nubian identity following the collapse of the last Nubian kingdom in 1900. A major part of the Nubian population were totally arabized or claimed to be arabs (Jaa'leen-the majority of Northern Sudanese- and some Donglawes in Sudan, Kenuz and Koreskos in Egypt). However all Nubians were converted to Islam, and Arabic language became their main media of communication in addition to their indigenous old Nubian language. The unique characteristic of Nubian is shown in their culture (dress, dances, traditions and music) as well as their indigenous language which is the common feature of all Nubians.
The distinguished and soft rhythms of the Nubian music and songs are borrowed by other ethnical groups in Sudan. In Egypt these rhythms are commonly used by some Egyptian-Nubian who sing in Arabic. With its very distinctive chantings and intonation the Nubian songs and music has a noticeable acclamation and acceptance among non-Nubian Sudanese and Egyptians.




By Abubakr Sidahmed