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                   Ghelawdewos Araia, PhD

 April 3, 2014

I was born millions of years ago

Perhaps 180 million years geological timeline

When Gondwanaland broke up

During the Mesozoic period

When crustal extension took place

Beyond the Lake Ţana

Near the mountain called Denquez


I was then alone except for the stars

The moon and the sun that accompanied me

Other planets too that gave me solace

In sympathy, I believe, to my lone existence


I was alone, where no one can hear my utterance

Even in the cataracts, where I make thunderous falls

That turns into mists but perceived from afar as smoke


I said to my self once, ‘what am I?’

What is the purpose of my existence?

I questioned myself in a manner of introspection

Sort of self-examination


But it boiled down to an intriguing soliloquy

Followed by virtually no feedback

No answer to my quest

And I gave up!


Thousands of years after I grew up in size,

In length, width, and depth

I still inquired my very nature


In the midst of all these constant monologue

Something strange happened!

I felt something within my inner membrane

Within my womb!


Something began to move within my aquatic corporal

Turtles! Hippos! Fish of all species followed by amphibians


And if my memory serves me right

These creatures came into being circa 55 million to 5 million years ago


And as I continue to flow non stop, year round

The creatures flourished in abundance

I said to myself, ‘do these new companions exist for me’

Or I happen to nurture their existence?


Several million years after the sea creatures and amphibians appeared

There came another companion

That began to wander east of my abode


These new specie happen to be the Homo habilis

Ancestor of the Homo sapiens

That ultimately became the master creature and began to use me 


Unlike the creatures that were born within me, however

The Homo sapiens were terrestrial beings and they were inventive

At times inquisitive, and sometimes destructive


About 5,000 years ago, these Homo sapiens founded a brilliant civilization

And they called themselves Ethiopians (sun burnt faces)

And they called me Abay

But, in order to mirror their dark complexion

They also gave me a second name, Tikur Abay


Sometimes, jokingly or sarcastically

This clever Ethiopians attribute a maxim to me, and they say

‘Abay does not know its destination and yet carries logs with it’


That maxim, I believe, is meant to depict my seemingly aimless journey

To far away places beyond Ethiopia

In fact, my sojourn begins at Lake Ţana

I encircle Gojjam and then flow into the land of the Aswed (Sudan)

And furthermore into the land of ancient Kemet


Kemet, I am told, is now called Egypt

And I knew from day one that Kemet could not sustain life without me

Let alone find a brilliant civilization on either side of my banks


It is for my water prowess that the Egyptians called me Hapi

Hapi, a god associated with fertility and me

Because I provide them, not only water but also alluvial soil




My twin brother who originates from Lake Nyanza

Joins me at Khartoum

And together we travel to Egypt and end in the Mediterranean


The aquatic creatures, the Ethiopians, the Sudanese

The Egyptians and other riparian people are our children

And we provide them adequate water for their sustenance


Our commitment to the Nile people is unquestionable

Unless the sun comes close to earth and burns us, and we evaporate

That appalling phenomenon is going to happen, I believe

A billion years from now, and that do not worry me


What worries me is the misperception people have

And the unnecessary conflict they enter into

I say this, because, when the Ethiopians began constructing the dam

The Egyptians were offended and they said damn!


And I say to myself, ‘why are the Egyptians cursing the Ethiopians?’

And I think they sensed my bubbling tone

And they said, “Once the Renaissance Dam is finished, we are finished”


“It is a dam, for heavens sake,” I retorted

And I will overflow

And you will have enough of me to sustain the land of the Kemet


I also pleaded to the Ethiopians to guarantee enough water

That there Egyptian brethren need

The Ethiopians confirmed by saying, “for sure and indeed”


To the Egyptians, I say, stay calm

Look at your neighbor to the south, the Sudanese

They established good neighborly relations with Ethiopia

And they even embraced the whole project of the Renaissance Dam


You Egyptians should learn a lesson from the Sudanese

And also from other riparian states

And all of you should use me as if by harmonious design


Thus, when I immerse myself in a monologue

You Egyptians should engage the Ethiopians in a meaningful dialogue


And make sure to honor your ancestor’s moral grounding

Of their sense of justice and sharing

And also in proper handling of nature and preserving

You must reaffirm this fortitude not by negating others but by offering


Your forebears of Kemet were endowed with the highest environmental consciousness

As they have attested in their Declaration of Innocence

Also known as Negative Confessions

One of these confessions being, “I have not befouled the water”


So, I urge you not to violate the ethos of your ancestors

And rather keep me limpid and clean always

And never contemplate of spilling blood on my banks

Otherwise, I may ask Hapi to tell Ra to lower the Sun

And you will never be able to live on either side of my banks

It could be a bad omen; your farms could turn into barren lands


You should also recite one other verse of your ancestor’s wisdom

Where they declared, “I have never magnified my condition beyond what was fitting”

When you attempt to preclude the construction of a dam

You are, in effect, magnifying your interests at the expense of Ethiopians


On the contrary, I say to you the Egyptians

Enter dialogue with the Ethiopians; listen to them

Cooperate with them and do not deliberate conflict

Rest assured, you will get what you have had for millennia! Amen-Ra


This poetic-verse is dedicated to the Renaissance Dam built by the Ethiopian people in the first decade of the 21st century!


All Rights Reserved. Copyright © IDEA, Inc. Dr. Ghelawdewos Araia can be contacted for educational and constructive feedback via dr.garaia@africanidea.org