The Middle East meets Africa
Where does the Middle East end, and Africa start?
Geographically, Africa begins at the Suez canal, releasing Sinai to the Asian continent. Egypt, the country famed for its pharaonic past, is where these two cultures start to meet. Cairo lies 140km West of this division, but still has a very Arabic flavour. Aswan is a twelve-hour train journey south of the capital, and it is here that I began to feel in “Africa”. Whilst in Aswan itself, the food, the dress, the language, the visages of people all felt very Middle Eastern, taking a small boat over to Elephantine Island, the Nubian culture plants its roots.
The shaded alleyways that weave between squat, colourful buildings in the south of the island exemplify certain visions of “Africa”. Spending the afternoon here, life was a lot more relaxed that in the bustle of Aswan proper, as feluccas glided down the Nile, the call to prayer transported on the wind in their sails. North of the village, verdant, lush plantations of date palms are cultivated, adding green to the blue, red & ochre of the buildings.
For me, I’m going to draw the border at Aswan as I catch the ferry down the Nile to the Sudanese border town of Wadi Halfa.