Film: The Nubia Train
By Attiyat El-Abnoudi
Documentary, 2002, Egypt, 35 min., Arabic / Engl. subt.
With a hand-held camera this film observes at length the preparations and execution of the annual journey of Nubian families from Alexandria to Upper Egypt to celebrate the holidays back home. Four decades after the resettlement, clearly and without any spoken commentary, the film raises questions about the reasons of Nubian inner-Egyptian and generation long migration and its out-come.
Lecture by Alia Mossallam (EUME Fellow 2017/18)
In 1964, and after years of preparing for the migration and even at times looking forward to it, around 50,000 Nubians from 33 villages stretching between Egypt and Sudan, were migrated from the banks of the Nile to the deserts of Komombo. Where once their lives revolved around an unpredictable body of water, their main concern became escaping the sun. Why did they believe in the Dam's potential? How did they handle the trauma of displacement? How does a way of life completely dependent on the Nile from the myths of creation to daily rituals continue in its absence? Through listening to Nubian songs that reflect hope, nostalgia and finally anger, we listen to the conversations with the Nile, the birds, the mythical mer-people and the reflections of the many emotions affiliated with the move.
Alia Mossallam, EUME Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, holds a PhD in Political Science. Her dissertation explores a popular history of Nasserist Egypt through stories told and songs sung by people behind the 1952 revolution. She has taught at the American University in Cairo (AUC), the Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS), the Freie Universität (FU) and held a series of workshops, 'Reclaiming Revolutionary Histories' all over Egypt. She also worked with theatre practitioners to document revolutionary experiences of the present, explore alternative histories of the past, and recreate them on the stage, for example the play Hawwa al-Hureyya (Whims of Freedom). She also writes for Mada Masr. Her current research project is 'Hekāyāt Sha’b – Stories of Peoplehood': Nasserism, Popular Politics and Songs in Egypt, 1956-1974 and she is working on her first book on the popular historiography of the dam building process, tentatively titled “This Is What Socialism Sounds Like”.