A Discourse Analysis of Aljazeera’s Documentary ‘Struggle over the Nile’
Dejene Sojato Addis Ababa University, 2015
Given the fact the politics of the Nile is full of tension, mistrust, anxiety, mystery, and diplomaticconfrontation among the downstream and upstream riparian countries particularly between
Ethiopia and Egypt since time immemorial, this study examines how Aljazeera’s documentaryseries ‘Struggle over the Nile’ represents of the Nile riparian countries that attempt to establish
their causes over the usage of the Nile river.
discourse theory is used as the theoryand method for the analysis.The study uses qualitative approach on the bases of textual analysis, using discourse analyticaltools. The corpus of media texts is selected based on purposive rather than random sampling. It
consists of three documentary series under a major title ‘Struggle over the Nile’, on issues of the
Nile River and the relations among riparian countries struggling to secure their share from the river.The method for the analysis of the text is through the three types of text analysis, namely analysisof the meaning, the rhetoric and construction of subjectivity.This study outlines the fact that documentaries are products of individual rather than absolute truthas the filmmaker is in direct control of arranging the sequences, omitting material, formingarguments and presenting ideas thus making it important to assess filmmaker point of view. Dueto this fact this study reveals that
Aljazeera’s documentary demonstrated the dilemma of the
downstream countries to maintain the status quo that resulted in their failure to bring the neededcooperation over the use of the Nile waters. There was a clash between the upstream ripariancountries ideas of the bringing cooperation. Downstream countries expressed an antagonisticapproach towards the downstream riparian countries; they opposed the modification of colonialagreements of 1929 and 1959. They wanted others to respect those legal frameworks as binding.Most of the informants of the documentary episodes were from Egypt and Sudan albeit the story
affects other Nile basin countries. Therefore, the study concludes that the documentarian mustaccommodate the interest of both parties in conflict to attain objectivity.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my advisor, Dr. Abdissa Zerai, for his dedicationin providing me with invaluable suggestions and comments throughout my study. Truly speaking,his intellectual generosity and depth have permanently affected me, both as a student and professional journalist.I also wish to thank the members of the department, who have each contributed greatly to my ownintellectual development. I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Negeri Lencho, Dr. GebremedhineSimon, Dr. Zenebe Beyene, Ato Tenaw Terefe and all the teaching and supporting staff membersof the department.I am very much indebted to my family and friends who have been very helpful in providing mewith the kind of support I needed to conduct this project and who have also been a source ofinspiration for me to accomplish such an important piece of work in my academic endeavor.I would also like to extend my appreciation to all those who have made their own contributions intheir own way to the successful accomplishment of this research project by providing me withfinancial, material and moral support I needed.
Chapter One: Introduction
Background of the study
Historically, the politics of the Nile is full of tension, mistrust, anxiety, mystery, and diplomaticconfrontation among the downstream and upstream riparian countries particularly betweenEthiopia and Egypt since time immemorial (Daniel, 2010). The Nile, at 6,671 kilometres, is thelongest river in the world. The Nile is shared by 10 countries and has three main sources: LakeVictoria, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, from which the White Nile derives; theBlue Nile; and the Atbara River, both originating in Ethiopia. The riparian countries can bedistinguished by dividing them into upstream and downstream countries. The upstream groupincludes Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania,and Uganda. The two downstream countries are Egypt and Sudan.Egypt has made greater use of the Nile waters than all the riparian countries combined. This is dueto the geographical, historic, and economic circumstances which have obtained in Egypt. Morethan 86 per cent of the Nile waters originate in Ethiopia. Hence, Egypt assigns a prominent placeto her relation with Ethiopia although it has by no means been always constructive (knife 1996).The basin has never seen cooperation until recent times. However, there has been cooperation between the two downstream countries (Sudan and Egypt) with 1959 water sharing agreement.The upper riparian countries (Tanzania, DRC, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Eritrea, andEthiopia) which contribute the entire Nile waters had been neglected from any negotiations andagreements on the utilizations of the river by the colonial powers. AdministratorThe 1929 and 1959 agreements empowered Egypt to use and control the water of the Nile. Whilethe first agreement grants Egypt veto power over any projects involving Nile water, the latterallows for full utilization of the resource, obliging Egypt to sharing only 15.5 per cent of the waterwith Sudan. Since those treaties placed Egypt in a hydro-hegemonic position, Egypt has managedto control the use and course of water from source to mouth. As a result, the River Nile has no basin-wide agreement and governing body, as the major international rivers do (Arsano andTamirat 2005). Recently, in spite of the 1929 and 1959 agreements, the upper riparian states have
challenged Egypt’s monopolization of the Nile water by taking forward unilateral development