“El-Misr,” the Arabic word for Egypt, refers to the emergence of Arab military colonies following the expansion of Islam, later developing into such fixtures as “al-Fustat,” modernly, Cairo. The expanse of desert, pockmarked by oases and with unrivalled riverine breadth, continues to be known locally, and proudly, as the Mother of the World. The birthplace of civilization on the banks of the Nile still resounds throughout global history as a mystifyingly wondrous herald of language, architecture, and spirituality.
Though, as is typical to every modern nation-state, the post-independence geographical borders of Egypt and Sudan continue to bleed from the pages of history, into the soil of Nubia, and throughout the peoples of common heritage. In the Middle Ages, as Arab traders travelled between the Red Sea south of the Sahara to the Atlantic Ocean, they called the land now known as Sudan, “Bilad-as-Sudan,” literally, the “Country of Blacks.” The significance of naming cannot be understated in this context, where the Arab name for Egypt is Anglicized, while Sudan remains a figment of the Arab lexicon.
In Aswan, for example, from where a mere walk will traverse Egypt’s southern border, Nubian folk rites are practiced to this day within the ceremonial grounds of the bygone world of Pharaohs. In broad daylight, tourists, and townspeople bear witness to the bemusing traditions, where a Nubian woman, for example, draped in black from head to toe, will step over a heap of human skeletons in a burial cave heavily marked with ancient hieroglyphs.