"River Tales": People of the Nile
For so many people, the River Nile is a source of life and income. It passes through no less than 11 countries on its way to the Mediterranean. From 16 April to 27 May 2015, the Goethe-Institut in Dessau, Germany, is hosting an exhibition of the works of three young photographers depicting life on the banks of the Nile River in Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. The works are divided into three sections: "A day in the life of a Rosetta family" by Mahmoud Yakut, "Lab of creation" by Elsadig Mohamed Ahmed and "Lessons of humility by the Blue Nile" by Brook Zerai Mengistu
Going beyond the crisis: instead of portraying the political conflicts that affect the countries along the Nile, the exhibition focuses on the people who live along the banks of the river and their everyday lives. Photographer Mahmoud Yakut depicts life in Rosetta, Egypt. Thanks to the soil's fertility, agriculture is a major source of income for many families in the Nile delta.
Fish farms on the Nile: near Rosetta, the world's longest river empties into the Mediterranean. Many people here earn a living from fishing. Floating on the water are wooden fish farms with small huts in the middle. Each cabin has just enough space for a bed and tea-making facilities. Family members take it in turns to guard their fish farms.
Life in the city: the past meets the present in Rosetta. Since the Middle Ages, the seaport of Rosetta has been an important trading hub. History and bustling activity go together. Though life is very simple, the people of Rosetta are renowned for their warmth and generosity.
The role of women: most women in Rosetta stay at home, looking after the children and managing the household. They bake their bread in traditional ceramic ovens. Some sell vegetables and homemade cheese at the market. Despite their poverty, people are very hospitable: sharing is part of their philosophy.
Creative inspiration: the exhibition's three young photographers took part in a workshop organised by the Goethe-Institut in Sudan in 2013. It allowed them to travel to their home countries, many of which are deeply affected by conflict. Photographer Elsadig Mohamed Ahmed from Sudan was inspired by the traditional craft of pottery along the Nile. He feels that the materials and artists are influenced and shaped by each other.
A lifeline in the desert: along the Nile, people have made pottery for centuries. Before the Aswan Dam was built, the annual floods made the surrounding land in Egypt fertile. The river is a lifeline for several African countries: people have always depended on it for water, transportation, energy, agriculture and habitat. It is also a symbol of constant change.
Ancient traditions: pottery combines utility and aesthetics. Down through the centuries, the oldest craft in the world took on the most diverse forms. Many examples of Nubian pottery are now showcased in museums, serving as a testimony of the culture and history of the Nubian people and the Nile.
Lessons of humility: the photographer Brook Zerai Mengistu takes us to the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. He portrays a group of Bible students who try to live like the early Christians. They live isolated from society in order to gain access to the spiritual world and become healers for others. A Bible student's training in this chosen state of solitude lasts 14 years.
Begging Bible students: from time to time, the scholars leave their isolated community to beg for food in the villages. They believe begging teaches them humility, opening the door to spiritual power.
Unity and divine eternity: the Blue Nile in Ethiopia symbolises unity and divine eternity. Away from the cities, the Nile offers space and peace.