Songs of a Dam's Diaspora: Nubians Displaced by the Aswan Dam Tell Their Story With Music

Chuck Johnson

PRI's radio program The World recently aired a story that features Nubians displaced by the Aswan Dam who are keeping the culture of their region alive in song. The Aswan High Dam was constructed during the 1960s in order to provide electricity for Egypt, but it also created floods that forced the migration of over 120,000 Nubians from their ancient homeland into Egypt and Sudan. Tragically, today Nubians in Sudan are threatened yet again by the Kajbar Dam.

This experience - as well as the memories of life in their homeland - fostered a new style of Nubian music and poetry known as "Songs of Return." The most well-known artist in this style is the late oud virtuoso and singer Hamza El Din. The PRI piece highlights other Nubian musicians who have brought "Songs of Return" to the West, and The World's web site includes a stunning collection of photographs of Wadi Halfa, a major Nubian city destroyed by the dam.

Thanks to PRI for bringing awareness to the destructive effects of dams! The complete story can be found on The World's web site here.