Ethiopian pop stars weigh in against Egypt in support of Nile dam

Pop stars in Ethiopia have taken to the airways with hit songs celebrating what they see as victory in the long-running standoff with Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a large hydroelectric scheme nearing completion on the Blue Nile.

In June, Ethiopia let wet-season rains begin to fill the reservoir despite protests from Egypt as yet another round of talks among Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia failed to produce agreement.

Tensions between the two countries have been rising since Ethiopia started work on the GERD in 2011.

GERD pits Ethiopia’s desire for development against Egypt’s fears over water security. Egypt relies on the Nile for nearly all its fresh water and objects to the speed of Ethiopia’s plans to fill the reservoir.

Ethiopia’s biggest pop star Teddy Afro released a song called "Demo Le Abbay", which translates from Amharic as "If They Test Us on the Nile" (pictured above), reports the BBC.

It criticises Egypt, saying it should learn to share the waters of the River Nile, of which the Blue Nile is a main tributary. The song also asserts Ethiopian self-determination.

Although it does not have an official video yet, the track has been released on Youtube, getting more than a million hits.

It and other such songs are favourites with radio stations in the capital city, Addis Ababa, the BBC says.

  • See "Nile – Word of Prophesy", by duo Mekdes Abebe and Tadesse Mekete:

Last month, the duo of Mekdes Abebe and Tadesse Mekete released "Abay – Ye Titbit Qal", or "Nile – Word of Prophesy", declaring that "a new day has begun".

It calls for Ethiopians to donate money to help complete the dam.

A song the BBC describes as less confrontational, entitled "Ethiopia", is by upcoming singer-songwriter, Mr. Zerubabbel Molla.

His video contains images of the GERD construction site, and he sings: "The sky is clear now, so that the whole world can see".

According to the BBC, the GERD now has 4.9 billion cubic metres (bcm) in its reservoir, which is enough to test the first two turbines.

Image: Cover image of pop star Teddy Afro’s song, "If They Test Us on the Nile", from Youtube

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