• Alysa Salzberg

Keeping the Nubian language alive in Egypt

Imagine having to leave not only your home behind, but the very language you spoke there. This happened to over half a million Nubians in the 1960’s, when the construction of Egypt’s

Aswan High dam covered their towns with the waters of the Nile.


In addition, their language, which ties them to their rich past, risks being lost, as new generations increasingly speak Arabic, the official and most widely spoken language in Egypt.


Fortunately, volunteers for an initiative called Kuma Wadi (Nubian for “Tales of the Past”) have begun compiling a Nubian dictionary. The first volume, containing 230 words, was recently published in Egypt. It lists these terms and their translations into Arabic, English, and Spanish.


The group also performed another act of preservation: filming elderly Nubians speaking their native language.


Read on to learn more about the Kuma Wadi Initiative and the new Nubian dictionary.



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