On our visit to Egypt few years ago we wanted to spend some time experiencing the Nubian culture. Nubian people currently inhabit the southern part of Egypt and northern Sudan and can trace their descent to the dawn of civilization over 5000 years ago when their ancestors settled on the banks of river Nile in present day Aswan. They are currently an ethnic minority in Egypt and, sadly like many other minorities all over the world, their identity and culture has largely been crushed. With the invasion of Arabs in Northern Africa and the fall of Nubian kingdom over 200 years ago, most Nubians were converted to Islam and can today speak only Arabic barring some who can still converse in the Nubian language.
Most Egyptian Nubians today live in and around Aswan and primarily depend on farming and tourism for their sustenance. They have noticeably darker skin than what you associate with Egyptians and have culture and mannerisms closer to Central Africa than the Arabs.
Most people go to Aswan as it is a gateway to the ancient Egyptian temple of Abu Simbel but if you get a chance I recommend visiting the Nubian museum of Aswan or even a Nubian house with its distinct mud walls covered in bright colours. You can, in fact, stay at one called “Bet el Kerem” in Aswan on the other side of river Nile in a small Nubian village. We found the Nubians to be extremely friendly and generous and, in fact, were invited to their wedding just because we happened to be passengers of a taxi with a Nubian driver.
On a free evening in Aswan, you can take a short but steep walk along the river Nile to a cafe built in traditional Nubian style called the “Nubian House” from where you get spectacular views of both sides of the river and surrounding countryside. Nubian music can be experienced all over Egypt and most cultural performances we went to included Nubian drum pieces accompanied by soulful singing.
A lot of my photos from Egypt are destroyed so I am sharing a precious few along with one courtesy the Nubia Museum.