THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, portrays the Aboriginal beliefs in spiritual existence. According to the tribes that first settled down in the continent, the Dreaming's roots date all the way back to the very begging of the creation of the world. The meaning and ideology of the term is generally not so well-understood by non-indigenous people as it is referred to as part of the culture of one of the early nations, which differs from modern perceptions.
The Spirits were the creators of everything. They made the land and the seas, the rocks and the plants, the sky and the earth. They were the higher power and the Australian Aborigines spent their lifetimes honoring this power, which guided their path and shaped their way of thinking. Not only creators of everything, which could be seen as well as felt, the Spirits also gave the Aborigines the Dreaming.
The time when everything started existing according to the initial Australians, was called the Dreaming. This is the foundation of the continent's culture. The origin of the Dreaming goes way back - 65 000 years back in time to be exact. The Ancestors of the nation shaped the land, forming some parts of it as sacred. The Aborigines were very careful and overprotective of those places, strongly believing in their significance.
The Australian Aborigines are known to have believed that the world didn't have any shape and was therefore empty. Darkness dominated, and life was simply asleep, but this changed when the creation began happening. After the Dreaming and the influence of the Spirits, objects began taking shapes and came to be. They created the four elements: water, earth, air and fire, as well as all the planets, the Sun and the Moon. The Dreaming therefore is a continuous process, which never ended. It is a small cosmos on its own, unifying the past, present and the future into one.
The Australian Aborigines' home riches so many vivid areas of the continent, including Fraser Island, Tasmania, Palm Island, Groote Eylandt and Mornington Island. The Aborigines had very strong believes in relation to the powers of the land, claiming that they never owned it - it rather owned them. The only reason they were able to call it their home is because they were looking after it and the land was taking care of the people in return.
Equally important to the Dreaming was the tribes' understandings of the disappearance of the Spirits. There came a time, when the creators of everything vanished from sight. Some of them were thought to have started living in sacred places, which is why the Aborigines perceived their homeland to be so sacred. The ancestors of today's Australians used to believe that the creators started living in rocks, in water holes and some went up to the sky to guide the people from above and keep them safe. Others transformed completely, taking the forms of the rain, the lightnings and the thunderstorms so they could be part of peoples' life.
Among the hundred's different Aboriginal languages, there isn't a word to describe 'time', because to them this simply doesn't exist. Dreaming and Dreamtime are used to replace it and summarize the ideologies of the Aborigines about everything they knew, everything they could see, feel and experience. This is why the Dreaming has such a vivid, and overwhelming meaning and has survived the obstacles of time. For the past couple thousand years, the Dreaming has built a rich cultural heritage that can identify a whole nation.
Read more about the Land, its connection to people and the way it has been perceived from different generations in the very first print issue of ORIGIN. The Land Issue covers varied topics, most of which remain related to cultural aspects of the land and its importance.
A lot of people travel to explore places and learn about them which is the message that ORIGIN wants to spread. With traveling, however, comes certain responsibilities that we should all be aware of. Elephants riding has become a popular way to explore locations by land. People have been doing this as part of their trips, mostly to places such as Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and other parts of Asia. It is a common thing to see in certain places in Africa as well. We investigated the activity to explain why it is wrong and riding elephants should be banned everywhere.
Our first print issue studies culture and traveling represented through the land. We explored various location around the globe and learned what makes the land so valuable, which nations cherish it and how it helps us establish an identity. Traveling is important to us but traveling responsibly and making an impact is what we feel proud to stand behind. This is why riding elephants as a way of amusement should be reconsidered.
Let’s talk about the details. Elephants are very caring and extremely intelligent animals. It is a well-known fact that they never forget anything. When kept in captivity instead of spending their life in the wild, elephants die younger. Unlike in other species, this is common for the gentle giants and is often a result for stress.
Many African cultures respect elephants, believing they symbolize strength, loyalty and power. However, power can be a very tender concept. Elephant used as a tourism tool suffer from great pain daily. Elephants can be hurt very severely from the weight of carrying people and a trainer on their backs. The reason for this is the design of their spines. They have sharp protrusions, extending upwards from their spine instead of having round spinal disks. The protrusions and the tissue that serves to protect them can be harmed easily from weight pressure. Once a damage to their spine has been made, there is no going back and sometimes the harm can be irreversible. While this can’t be physically seen, the harm that the chairs can do to the elephants’ skin is. It is often the case that the chairs and the weight on their back can damage the animal’s skin and cause pain to their body. The chair, called Howdah, that gets attached to their backs, rubs on their skin and can cause blisters, which can sometimes get infected.
The training that elephants are required to go through when in captivity sometimes adopts a traditional Thai ‘phajaan’ or ‘crush’ technique. Explaining the technique would compare it to the animals’ spirits constantly and continuously being broken by the means of torture and social isolation. This is done in order to tame them. Elephants are wild animals, this is their nature as they are born in such conditions. Making them safe and obedient around people requires them to go through such training. As horrible as it sounds, in some places young elephants are taken away from their mothers to be abused with nails, bull hooks and bamboo sticks to make them obey rules, given by people. The animals often lack sleep and are starved to become submissive.
Actions from such nature are cruel and harmful as the technique is used to crash the animals’ spirit. Once wild and free, elephants become a source of tourism and entertainment. Nobody, who cared about sustainable tourism should ever ride an elephant.
In a sense, elephants have a human soul. They socialise and feel everything – pain, happiness, grief, sadness etc. They spend their life building families and finding friends. The largest land animals are a gift from nature and it is our responsibility to take special care of them and make sure they live according to their nature. Many animals, who are kept in captivity, are forced to live in isolation and carry heavy loads all day long, which is a wrong way to treat them. Their strength and power shouldn’t be abused but treated gently and celebrated by people. Elephants require minimal care to stay happy and healthy, which comes from giving them freedom to behave naturally and socialise. It is our responsibility to be culturally aware while traveling and make sure to spread awareness about the problem.
You can read the rest of the article as published in the LAND issue.
THE RED SEA FISHING GATEWAY
Explore an alternative side of Egypt which pays a tribute to the country's ancestors' past by putting fishing practices at the heart of how the locals connect with nature and honour its gifts
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Mohammed Hassan, Ahmed Badaway, Mateo Lopez
16 April 2023
Dusty landscapes, cinematic cities and timeless temple sites - Egypt is a land of so much mystery and magic. It is difficult not to be taken back in awe by the remarkable essence of the African dreamland. Known for the incredible pyramids of Giza, the tombs near the Valley of the Kings and the ancient burial grounds of Saqqara and Dahshur, this sandy land is one of the most exotic and unique destinations on the continent. Millennia-old monuments, tales of powerful pharaohs and a vision of the Nile River come to mind as soon as Egypt is mentioned, but the essence of the country goes deeper than what travellers are often exposed to.
Egypt is a place of contradictions where opposites meet to shape its transcendental beauty. A desert that is known for its water basins and beautiful oasis spots, this is a place like no other. The country is favoured by not one, but two seas - the cool waters of the Mediterranean Sea in the north and the connection to the Red Sea in the east. The Nile Delta has created the perfect conditions for various representatives of the animal kingdom - from giraffes, monkeys, crocodiles and hippos to over 300 species of birds and 2000 species of fish, which all vary in shapes and sizes. Nature truly blossoms in the heart of this African paradise and the locals have learned to co-exist with its gifts.
Beyond the Great Sphinx of Giza, the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut and the Khan el-Khalili bazaar, Egypt belongs to the locals and its true colours are accentuated by their everyday life. The Egyptian civilisation was one of the very first to introduce fishing as a practice and today the inland waters and sea coasts are some of the most notorious locations for it.
Dating back to ancient Egypt, fishing has become so iconic for the country partially due to the Nile - one of the largest rivers in the world. The combination of fresh and seawater makes this uncanny destination ideal for exporting fish. Different types of fishing gear have been used ever since ancient times. Hooks, fish harpoons, dip and sine nets were all redesigned to better suit the fishing purpose of those who practiced the trade. Ancient Egyptians knew how to catch, dry and salt fish better than anyone. Fresh catfish, eel and mullet was preferred by many pharaohs, vouching for the importance of seafood in the civilisation's history. Over the years Egypt has become a favourite location for surfing and diving as well, but it is fishing that is at the heart of the country. It comes as no surprise that Egypt ranks at first place in fish farming for the whole of Africa and takes eight place on the global ranking.
‘‘The Egyptian civilisation was one of the very first to introduce fishing as a practice and today the inland waters and sea coasts are some of the most notorious locations for it.’’
Marine life needs to come first and always be prioritised. This is the primary principle that the fishermen follow when they head out to sea. The equipment is chosen carefully and timing is of essence to ensure that the impact on nature is the lowest possible. Fishermen put great care and attention into making sure that they are familiar with the sea creatures which inhabit the Red Sea and their life cycles. This is done to prevent throwing nets in areas where new fish has just arrived to lay their eggs. Ensuring that the eggs hatch in healthy environments and that fishing practices don't interfere with the food supply of the fishes is a top priority.
The easy accessibility to resources is an advantage that has aided the country into becoming a well-known fishing destination. However, the reason why the local fishermen chose this lifestyle is often to honour traditions. Fishing in the area started as a way to respect nature's gifts. The annual floods and the rich soil help the crops produce food, but the supplies from the river and its habitat are a generous source of livelihood for many. The traditions have been passed down from one generation to the next turning into a tradition that goes beyond the trade.
Fishing is about more than just providing the catch of the day to sell, export and consume. It is a whole ritual that demands patience, trust and a special kind of skill set. To get up early before the night gives way to the new day, to take a boat out at sea and watch as the sunrise washes the azure waters of the sea in soft ochre colours, to connect to the tranquility and silence of the young morning before the rest of the world awakens - that is just a small fraction of the magic of what this trade represents for those who spend their whole lives perfecting it.
To fish is not to take from the water, but rather to learn nature's forms and cycles, to have in-depth knowledge of what to give and what to leave in order to balance the scales. It is not about misusing the gifts of the sea, but about coexisting and connecting with nature. When done sustainably, this practice becomes an ode to the legacy of fishermen's ancestors and a way to keep century-old traditions alive.
‘‘Fishing is about more than just providing the catch of the day to sell, export and consume. It is a whole ritual that demands patience, trust and a special kind of skill set.’’
Where to go:
Lake Nasser - the reservoir is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt. It is famously known as one of the largest man-made lakes when in the 1960s a dam built on the Nile flooded around 6,200 square kilometers of the Nile Valley.
Essentials to bring:
Don't forget to pack your sunscreen bottle, a pair of sunglasses and a camera to immortalise the beauty of this tucked-away gem.
When to go:
The lake is known as a fishing dream spot from the beginning of February to the end of July. This is when the weather is cooler and the Nile is at its lowest level so fishermen are not required to go in deep water to get the catch of the day.
Who you're most likely to bump into:
Foodies who are there to savour the fresh salty fish; wanderlust travellers who are seeking to take a safari trip in the picturesque reservoir; nomadic wanderers who want to camp under the desert starlit panoramic sky.
What to take back with you:
Just the memories of your unique stay and recipes by locals - they know the best-kept secrets of how to prepare the most tender, mouth-watering fresh water fish you will ever taste.
Don't forget to plan:
A boat safari is a must if you are in the area. It is the closest modern-day experience of an old style African safari where the boats are equipped with sleeping facilities and you can connect with nature by going fully remote for a day of traditional fishing experiences.