'River Tales': People of the Nile

Going beyond the crisis

Instead of portraying political conflicts affecting countries along the Nile, a current photography exhibition by the Goethe Institute focuses on the people by the river - and their every day lives against all odds. 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 meets the Mediterranean. Many people live on fishing. Floating on the water, there are wooden fish farms with small huts in the middle. Each cabin accommodates just a bed and some tools for making tea and food. The family members take turns guarding their fish farms all day.

Life in the city

The past meets the present in Rosetta. Ever since the Middle Ages, the seaport has been an important trade center. 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 stoves. Some participate in economic life by selling 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 organized by the Goethe Institute in Sudan in 2013. It allowed them to travel to their home countries, many of which are deeply affected by conflict. Photographer Al-Sadig Mohamed, from Sudan, was inspired by the traditional craft of pottery along the Nile. He feels 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 yearly floods of the river made the surrounding land fertile in Egypt. 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. Over 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, hoping to gain access to the spiritual world and thereby become healers. 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 ask for food in the city. They believe begging is a way to learn humility. Being humble is their way to gain spiritual power.

Unity and divine eternity

The Blue Nile in Ethiopia symbolizes higher unity and divine eternity. Away from the cities, the Nile offers space and peace. The impressive works of the exhibition "River Tales" are shown publicly for the first time, at the German Office for the Environment in Dessau until May 27.

This essential water resource travels through deltas and deserts. The Goethe Institute in Dessau features the works of three young photographers depicting life by the Nile River in Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.