A Note From Our Guest Editor*, Modupe: We weren’t even supposed to be here. A glitch in our itinerary gave us an entire extra day in Aswan. Kismet.
Good grief Egypt, what other surprises do you have hidden up those galabiyya sleeves? Feeling like my favorite vinyl record stuck on repeat over here, but visiting a Nubian village in Aswan was hands down one of my most cherished travel moments to date!
Ever been called a ‘Nubian Queen’ and awkwardly, graciously accepted the compliment? Admittedly, a large part of my unease was usually related to the creep factor with which said compliment was always delivered, but I was always aware that a tiny part of my reaction had to do with my lack of knowledge of all things Nubian.
Aside from brief mentions in eighth grade ancient history class, I didn’t know much about the Nubian people. Yet, having been in Egypt for about a week or so, I was quickly learning that Nubians were regarded as incredibly regal and highly respected people. So, in true wanderlust form, when presented with the opportunity to visit a Nubian village, I leapt at the chance.
Upon arrival, we were immediately invited into the home of the Ioza family and there we stayed for the day. The vibrancy of the home was a warm welcome, and a stark contrast to most of our Egyptian travels (up until this point, our travels had been clouded in various shades of sand and dust).
We were offered chilled hibiscus tea to sweeten to our liking and as we sipped, we took in our surroundings and chatted with different members of the family. I can’t even begin to describe the incredibly heartwarming and thought-provoking cultural exchange that followed, but here are a few of the beautiful moments:
Mohammed is one of a few patriarchs in the home, as Nubian families tend to be rather large. One reason for this is, when a man marries a woman, he traditionally marries into her family. And not in the figurative sense, he literally moves into her family home (we were told sometimes as long as 15 years) as he builds a new home for his own family.
Can you imagine??? Insert pensive emoji here.
In addition to ruling over the Kingdom of Kush, Nubians ruled over ancient Egypt for close to 100 years and were one of the first civilizations to establish homes along the Nile.
Arabic and various dialects of the Nubian language are spoken in the home. However, the Nubian languages have many proposals but no official alphabet.
While I attempted to explain my take on being a woman living in NYC, I couldn’t help but recognize an all-too-familiar look of surprise — and every now and again, sheer terror. I’m almost positive I’ve caught my mom making the same faces!
Nubians are somewhat known as crocodile whisperers. I made a futile attempt to hold one because…well, when in Rome. Let’s just say that no amount of whispering was going to keep THAT moment cute.
While I can’t quite find all the words to express just how powerful this day was for me, I can honestly say that I walked away from this experience with a fresh outlook. I’ll never be a Nubian expert, but the Ioza family gave me a rather touching introduction. So, I’m thinking that the next time someone calls me a Nubian Queen, I’ll stand up a little bit straighter, hold my head just a little bit higher and puff my B cups out just a little bit farther.
Travel just turned my awkward into pride. If that ain’t transformative travel for ya, I don’t know what is!
This post originally appeared on Modupe’s blog HERE. If you’ve enjoyed her travels as much as we have, be sure to stay follow along with her via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!
*The views and opinions expressed by Darling’s Guest Editors are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views or position of Darling Magazine.
Images provided by Modupe Sonuyi