It is only a river, but wading through its expansive water, hearing the roaring wet conflagrations of Tissisat Falls (literally, waterfall of smoke), or watching fishermen cast their nets and women wash their clothes, one can swear the Nile breathes. It is no surprise, then, that Professor James McCann in an interview with Boston University's "The Brink", maintains that the Nile has a soul--"a reference to the changing beliefs about the Blue Nile, its source, its cultural meaning to the peoples who have lived at that site, and the high modern national meaning."
In recent years, the Nile's "soul" has taken on a more hostile and internationally toxic tone. The waters that were once monopolized by Egypt's Aswan Dam have a new surveyor: the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a highly contested and expensive venture that has the potential to simultaneously lift millions from poverty and throw the eastern world into tumult. Contrary to public knowledge, however, these developments are not new. In conjunction with the United States Bureau of Reclamation, Ethiopia conducted the first feasibility study for a dam on the Nile in 1964, nearly half a century before construction would begin. During the 47 years following, Ethiopia fell victim to communism, revolution, secession, and rampant chaos that distracted from wider efforts for economic development. Even once talks to implement the project began, Ethiopia entered into a nearly perpetual conflict with Egypt regarding the implications of access to Nile water. This and a slew of other disputes have arisen in the decades since the dam was first conceived and have, unsurprisingly, not been resolved even as Ethiopia now begins to fill GERD.
It is clear that Ethiopia, in its attempt to reverse decades of regression, has systematically circumvented the interests of multinational and internal entities that have sought to sabotage its efforts to complete the Grand Renaissance Dam with the intention of maintaining preexisting alliances and protracting the subjugation of nations in the global periphery. An exploration of such dynamics warrants a model of equal artistry, innovation, and tragedy: a journey through the Renaissance of times past.
El Greco: A Posthumous Visionary
Despite his clear artistic prowess, a life of romantic intrigue and exorbitant wealth followed by debilitating debt, conflict, and ostracization led El Greco, a pioneer of the Spanish renaissance, to die poor and without renown. He did not gain widespread prestige until the last century--his well-deserved fame delayed by some four hundred years. Indeed, El Greco's contributions to Spanish "rebirth" went unrewarded much in the same way Ethiopia has lived in Nilotic subservience to other nations for decades, if not centuries, despite supplying more than 85 percent of the river's water. Ethiopia's decision to build GERD is less a renaissance than it is a much overdue reconnaissance of the territory over which the nation, empirically, should have had jurisdiction long ago.
Years of geopolitical and resource subordination, thus, have placed Ethiopia at a vast disadvantage. A mere 30 percent of the population has access to ready electricity...