Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New dams set to wipe out centuries of history

The Independent (Chris Boulding)

On 13 June last year, Sudanese security forces opened fire on a demonstration against the plans. The facts about the incident are hard to obtain because journalists have been prevented from reporting it. But according to eyewitnesses, several thousand largely Nubian protesters set out to march towards the dam company's administrative HQ, and found themselves blocked by soldiers at a narrow ravine.

Video footage shot by a local cameraman shows tear gas being fired and the crowd running through groves of date palm trees towards the Nile. Without warning, local people say the soldiers fired live rounds straight into the crowd. There was panic. By the end of the day, four people had been killed, and more than 20 seriously wounded. And the local Nubian opposition to Khartoum's hydroelectric scheme had hardened into active political resistance. "In the name of God, we will not keep quiet, even for a moment," said Osman Ibrahim, a local leader of the campaign, who witnessed the events. "We will resist and resist until the last drop of blood in our veins."

Kajbar is about 300 miles north of Khartoum in the heart of Nubia, the ancient black African kingdom which at times rivalled the pharoahs for wealth and influence. The Kajbar dam is just one of up to four planned on the stretch of the Nile north of Khartoum, which will become the hub of Sudan's power supply.

The Merowe Dam Archaelogical Salvage Mission's work is detailed on a dedicated page on the British Museum website.

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