New book on the Blue Nile

The river’s source and its myths

The mysteries surrounding the source of the the Blue Nile in Ethiopia have attracted philosophers, emperors and explorers since the dawn of civilisation. Yet very little research has been done on this vital part of Ethiopia’s cultural and religious heritage. A new book by NAI researcher Terje Oestigaard and Gedef Abawa Firew of Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia, and the University of Bergen, Norway, sheds new light on the matter.

– It is hard to overestimate the historical and cultural importance of the Nile. If you want to understand today’s regional politics, often centred on the river’s valuable water resources, the study of cultural identity is crucial, notes Terje Oestigaard.

– In our work, it was fascinating to discover that the water source seemed to have strong cultural and religious importance for indigenous, Muslim and Christian believers. Although these beliefs differed, all were structured around the same water. The mythical and religious powers of these waters are so strong, they transcend religious barriers.

'The Source of the Blue Nile: Water Rituals and Traditions in the Lake Tana Region' is published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

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