Posts Tagged ‘Nile River’

No breakthrough in Nile dam talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan

May 8, 2018

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have failed again to make progress on their Nile dispute as Ethiopia works to complete a massive upstream dam, an Egyptian official said Tuesday.

Egypt fears the Renaissance Dam will cut into its share of the river, which provides virtually all the freshwater for the arid country of 100 million people. Ethiopia, which has the same sized population, says the dam is essential for its economic development.

Technical talks among irrigation ministers of the three countries in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, last week ended with no deal, Hossam el-Emam, a spokesman for Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry, told The Associated Press.

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The Blue Nile River flows near the site of the planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Assosa, Ethiopia. (AP Photo)

Ethiopia and Sudan still insist on modifications to a technical report by a French firm commissioned to assess the dam’s impact, he said.

“Such modifications get it out of its context,” he said, adding that there may be another round of talks May 15. “We hope to make a breakthrough in the coming meeting … Time is not in our favor,” he said.

Last month, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry warned that Egypt “will not accept the status quo” and “continues to defend the interests of its people regarding the Nile by several means,” without elaborating.

The $4.8 billion dam is now 63 percent finished, and Ethiopia hopes to become a key energy hub in Africa upon its completion.

The main sticking point with Egypt concerns how quickly the reservoir behind the dam is filled, and the impact that will have downstream.

Egypt has received the lion’s share of the Nile’s waters under decades-old agreements seen by other Nile basin nations as unfair. Past Egyptian presidents have warned that any attempt to build dams along the Nile will be met with military action, but Egypt’s current leader, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, has ruled that out.

Sudan appears to be taking Ethiopia’s side in the negotiations, and has revived a longstanding border dispute with Egypt.

Associated Press


Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan leaders discuss Nile dam impasse

January 29, 2018


Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at the Egyptian Presidential Palace in Cairo. (Reuters)

ADDIS ABABA: The leaders of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan met in Addis Ababa Monday to discuss contentious issues related to the dam that Ethiopia is building on the Nile River.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir met on the sidelines of the African Union summit. The meeting comes after the Ethiopian and Egyptian leaders met less than two weeks ago in Cairo.
“The leaders have instructed their foreign ministers and other relevant ministries to deliberate on outstanding issues and report to the head of states within one month,” said the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, adding the three leaders have agreed to meet again in a year. The leaders agreed to create a three-nation infrastructure fund to encourage cooperation.
Egypt fears the $4.8 billion dam could reduce its share of the Nile River waters while Ethiopia asserts it needs the dam for its development. Ethiopia is seeking to assure Cairo the dam on the border with Sudan will not significantly harm it. It appears the main issue is how quickly the reservoir behind the dam will be filled and if the filling will cause Egypt to get less Nile water.
The dam is designed to generate 6,400 megawatts, which is expected to more than double Ethiopia’s current production of 4,000 megawatts, is now 63 percent completed and this East African nation hopes to become an energy hub in Africa upon its completion.
While Ethiopia has said the dam is a “matter of life or death” for its people, Egypt has said water is a “matter of life or death” for its people.

Troubled Waters: Egypt and Ethiopia Wrangle Over Nile Dam

January 17, 2018

Ethiopia’s ambitious $4.2-billion hydroelectric dam project on the Nile River’s main tributary is raising tensions with Egypt over how to share the essential resource, and exposing the rivalry between Cairo and an ascendant Addis Ababa for regional power.

“Egypt cannot live without the Nile”

The world’s longest river, a lifeline for hundreds of millions of people, is also fast becoming a fault line.

Ethiopia’s ambitious $4.2-billion hydroelectric dam project on the Nile River’s main tributary is raising tensions with Egypt over how to share the essential resource, and exposing the rivalry between Cairo and an ascendant Addis Ababa for regional power.

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The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will be the largest dam in Africa when it is completed.Photo: Gioia Forster/DPA/ZUMA Press

The main point of contention is Ethiopia’s plan to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s 74-billion-cubic-meter reservoir within three years of the dam’s planned completion in 2019—a pace that downstream Egypt argues will leave water levels in its floodplain dangerously low.

“Egypt cannot live without the Nile,” Mohamed Abdel-Ati, Egypt’s minister of irrigation and water resources, said last month. “Egypt understands Ethiopia’s right to development but Ethiopia has to prove, practically, that the dam won’t harm Egypt.”

Ethiopia is counting on the dam to power a hydroelectric plant meant to support its fast-growing economy, and promoting the dam project as a return to imperial-era glory after an era of deep poverty. Ethiopia’s economy grew 9% last year, one of the fastest paces in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“Ethiopia has not been using this river for development of its own because we lacked the financing,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said last year. “Now we are capable of investing on our own.”

Mr. Desalegn is due to visit Cairo for talks on Wednesday, though details of his agenda weren’t immediately known. Yearslong negotiations over filling the dam broke down in November. Egypt has asked the World Bank to mediate the dispute; a spokeswoman said the bank is studying the invitation.

The quarrel is about more than water, said Rashid Abdi, head of Horn of Africa research at the International Crisis Group, a think tank. “What you are seeing is a proxy conflict of who should be the regional hegemon, Egypt or Ethiopia,” he said.

Ethiopia’s economy has been growing fast. A light-rail train passed through a business district in Addis Ababa in Nov. 2016.Photo: Mulugeta Ayene/Associated Press for C40

When it is completed, the dam will be the largest in Africa, and it has become a point of pride in Ethiopia. “It will change our future,” said Iskander Baye, a 29-year-old accountant in Asosa, a town near the dam. “Ethiopia’s time has come.”

Almost all Ethiopians have contributed to funding it, often from meager salaries, although opposition groups claim that not all the contributions were voluntary. The government denies that.

The Nile has long divided and united those who share it. The river is the key source of water for Egypt, whose population of about 96 million is squeezed mostly along its banks.

Construction on the dam began in April 2011, when Egypt was in the throes of the Arab Spring—and some six centuries after an Ethiopian emperor threatened to disrupt Egypt’s access. Some 8,500 laborers work in three shifts, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A view of the dam in November.Photo: Gioia Forster/DPA/ZUMA PRESS

The dam is being built 8 miles from the border with Sudan, which lies between Egypt and Ethiopia and also needs the Nile for irrigation. Sudan has made efforts to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia, and says it is neutral in the standoff.

But the dispute has rekindled suspicion between Khartoum and Cairo, which have long had strained relations over a range of issues. Earlier this month, Sudan recalled its ambassador to Egypt indefinitely and lodged a complaint with the U.N. over an unrelated border issue.

“Ethiopia has got a right to use its available resources for the good of its people, without endangering the water security of both Sudan and Egypt,” Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said. “We don’t know what the fuss is about.”

Egypt has rights to the majority of the Nile’s water under a colonial-era agreement. Ethiopia, which was cut out of that deal, protests that 86% of the Nile’s main tributary, the Blue Nile, flows through its territory.

Ethiopia says the speed at which the reservoir is filled could be adjusted to take into account its probable impact but hasn’t given details. It says it is consulting with Egypt and Sudan.

Farmers Face Water Worries in the Nile Delta

In Arab el Raml, north of Cairo, farmers already have to dig wells to water their land and they worry a new dam in Ethiopia will mean even less water is available for them.

Fahim Ibrahim, a farmer in Arab el Raml, which is in the Nile Delta about 30 miles north of Cairo, said he fears “doom striking Egypt” if access to water runs short because of Ethiopia’s dam.Roger Anis for The Wall Street Journal

A view from a farmer’s house in the village.Roger Anis for The Wall Street Journal

Cracked soil in the village, where farmers have to dig wells to water their land.Roger Anis for The Wall Street Journal

A pump in the village produces well water.Roger Anis for The Wall Street Journal

A local farmer waits to water the field where she grows carrots.Roger Anis for The Wall Street Journal

People ride through the village on a cart. Most of Egypt’s population of nearly 100 million lives on the thin strip of fertile soil on the banks of the Nile.Roger Anis for The Wall Street Journal

Salah Abu Zeid walks on his land in Arab el Raml.Roger Anis for The Wall Street Journal

Agricultural land north of Cairo.Roger Anis for The Wall Street Journal

On Monday, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi said in reference to Ethiopia and Sudan, “Egypt will not go to war with its brothers.” He added that Egypt was investing in its military. “You have military power to protect you, to protect this peace I’m talking about,” he said—a message he said was directed both to Egyptians and to “our brothers in Sudan and in Ethiopia so that the issue becomes clear for them.”

Farmers in Egypt’s Arab el Raml, a village in the Nile Delta about 30 miles north of Cairo, remember a time when Nile waters flooded their farmland and irrigated their crops. A dam Egypt built in the 1960s has forced villagers to dig countless wells to drench their farmlands.

Salah Abu Zeid, a 51-year-old alfalfa farmer, shares two wells with other farmers and says he is afraid he will have to dig more. Wells are expensive and must be dug deeper and deeper as underground water levels fall.

“Wells are our only option to avoid this,” he said, pointing at plots of cracked land abandoned by owners who couldn’t afford to dig wells.

Farmers in the village are fearful for the future if the Ethiopian dam means even less water is available for them.

“The Nile is a matter of life and death for us, and so those after Egypt’s demise targeted it,” said Mr. Abu Zeid.

—Yohannes Anberbir in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, contributed to this article.

Salah Abu Zeid, a farmer in the Nile Delta, shares two wells with other farmers and says he is afraid he will have to dig more.Photo: Roger Anis for The Wall Street Journal

Write to Matina Stevis-Gridneff at

Turkey, Sudan to boost economic and political ties (Genocide is set aside)

December 26, 2017


Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, right, presents Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with his country’s highest medal during a ceremony in Khartoum, Sudan, on Sunday. (AP) — Omar Al Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for genocide and war crimes.

ISTANBUL: Following the first visit by a Turkish head of state to Khartoum on Sunday, Turkey and Sudan have agreed to establish a strategic cooperation council to boost economic and political links.

During the official visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 12 agreements on economic, agricultural and military cooperation were signed. Erdogan also addressed the Sudanese Parliament on Sunday evening and attended a Sudanese-Turkish business forum.
During his joint press conference with his Sudanese counterpart, Omar Bashir, Erdogan said that the two countries intended to increase their bilateral trade links gradually to $10 billion a year from the current $500 million.
An arrangement that would allow Sudan to provide cheap meat to Turkey is also on the horizon.
Emphasizing Sudan’s economic potential, Erdogan called on Turkish businessmen to invest in the country. Turkey and Sudan also aim to finalize a military deal that would involve the armed forces of both countries.
Ibrahim Nassir, an Africa expert at ANKASAM, a think tank in Ankara, said that this had been a long-anticipated meeting for Sudan since early this year.
“Sudan, due to its strategic geographic location, is considered the gateway to eastern Africa. Recently Turkey took important steps for rapprochement with this part of the African continent, as shown with its military base in Somalia,” Nassir told Arab News.
Economically speaking, Nassir said, Sudan is the rising star of Africa in terms of agriculture, especially with the untapped potential of the Nile river passing through Sudanese territories.
“Sudan also has huge amounts of gold reserves, another avenue for cooperation between the two countries,” he said.
“The decades-long economic embargo that was imposed on Sudan by the US has recently been lifted so it was a good opportunity for Turkey to take part in this strategic competition in Sudan for being an influential actor in the region,” Nassir said.
According to Sedat Aybar, an expert in Turkey-Africa relations at Istanbul Aydin University, Sudan shares a common historic and cultural heritage, a firm basis for an opening into sub-Saharan Africa.
“Close cultural proximity can be traced in the institutional set-up of the Sudanese military and its administrative structures. Probably this is why they became even closer during the US-based embargo imposed upon Sudan,” Aybar told Arab News.
Aybar noted that recent Turkish involvement with Sudan was based on humanitarian aid provided via TIKA, a Turkish official aid and co-operation agency, with projects covering health care, infrastructure, water and sanitation works as well as educational help.
Considering significant investments by Turkish SMEs in Sudan, whose capital city Khartoum hosts nearly 5,000 Turks who live and and work there, Aybar thinks that the move to declare Sudan a strategic partner is overdue.
“Sudan one of the poorest countries on earth, is rich in oil, gold and natural resources. Lifting the American-imposed embargo opened up for the Sudanese a path to explore new opportunities, particularly in extractive industries but also in production and trade,” Aybar said.
“Sudan’s agricultural sector has large potential for food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Hence, the recent visit by the Turkish president to Khartoum is an extremely important one that will further lead to cultivating mutual positive economic returns at this conjuncture of the world, as competition for Sudanese resources is more likely to intensify,” he said.
According to Aybar, Turkey’s interest in Eastern Africa is unlikely to fade and Turkey is there to stay.
“Not only in rhetoric but also in action, Turkey views Africa as an equal partner, and for a win-win situation it is prepared to explore sectoral complementarities of its economy with the Africans,” he said.

Sudan’s al-Bashir asks Russia for protection from US

  • Date 23.11.2017

During a visit to Russia, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said that his country needed protection from the US. Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and war crimes.

Omar al-Baschir ARCHIV (Reuters)

During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Thursday, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accused the US of fomenting the conflict in Sudan and asked Russia for help.

“We are thankful to Russia for its position on the international arena, including Russia’s position in the protection of Sudan. We are in need of protection from the aggressive acts of the United States,” al-Bashir said.

Sudan’s president also praised Moscow’s military campaign in Syria and highlighted his intentions to ramp up military ties with Russia.

“We are currently launching a program to modernize our armed forces and we agreed with the defense minister that Russia will contribute to this.”

Putin meanwhile said that Russia wanted to intensify economic ties with Sudan, including in agriculture and energy.

“There are prospects not only in the hydrocarbon sphere but also in energy,” Putin said. “There are many prospects of cooperation.”

ICC warrant for Bashir

Al-Bashir’s visit came a month after the United States lifted a trade embargo it had imposed on Sudan in 1997 over Khartoum’s alleged backing of Islamist militant groups. US President Donald Trump also removed Sudan from the list of countries facing the current US travel ban.

Al-Bashir, however, who rose to power in 1989, is on the International Criminal Court’s wanted list for committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.

ICC prosecutors issued warrants for his arrest in 2009 and 2010, and has called for his resignation, but Bashir continues to deny the charges against him.

Sudan’s deadly conflict in Darfur broke out in 2003 when ethnic minority groups took up arms against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. The UN says that the ensuing counterinsurgency left at least 300,000 people in Sudan dead and more than 2.5 million displaced in the impoverished African state as a result of the conflict.

Top Sudanese officials claim that the conflict has ended, but the region continues to see regular fighting between numerous ethnic and tribal groups.

ss/kms (AP, AFP)

Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, July 18, 2017 — God saves us so that we can save others.

July 17, 2017

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 390

Image result for Pharaoh's daughter finds a basket by the river, art, photos

Pharaoh’s daughter finds a basket by the river

Reading 1 EX 2:1-15A

A certain man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman,
who conceived and bore a son.
Seeing that he was a goodly child, she hid him for three months.
When she could hide him no longer, she took a papyrus basket,
daubed it with bitumen and pitch,
and putting the child in it,
placed it among the reeds on the river bank.
His sister stationed herself at a distance
to find out what would happen to him.

Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river to bathe,
while her maids walked along the river bank.
Noticing the basket among the reeds, she sent her handmaid to fetch it.
On opening it, she looked, and lo, there was a baby boy, crying!
She was moved with pity for him and said,
“It is one of the Hebrews’ children.”
Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter,
“Shall I go and call one of the Hebrew women
to nurse the child for you?”
“Yes, do so,” she answered.
So the maiden went and called the child’s own mother.
Pharaoh’s daughter said to her,
“Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will repay you.”
The woman therefore took the child and nursed it.
When the child grew, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter,
who adopted him as her son and called him Moses;
for she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

On one occasion, after Moses had grown up,
when he visited his kinsmen and witnessed their forced labor,
he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own kinsmen.
Looking about and seeing no one,
he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
The next day he went out again, and now two Hebrews were fighting!
So he asked the culprit,
“Why are you striking your fellow Hebrew?”
But the culprit replied,
“Who has appointed you ruler and judge over us?
Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?”
Then Moses became afraid and thought,
“The affair must certainly be known.”

Pharaoh, too, heard of the affair and sought to put Moses to death.
But Moses fled from him and stayed in the land of Midian.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 69:3, 14, 30-31, 33-34

R. (see 33) Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
I am sunk in the abysmal swamp
where there is no foothold;
I have reached the watery depths;
the flood overwhelms me.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
But I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your saving help, O God, protect me;
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

AlleluiaPS 95:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.


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Matthew and the Angel by Rembrandt

Gospel MT 11:20-24

Jesus began to reproach the towns
where most of his mighty deeds had been done,
since they had not repented.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes.
But I tell you, it will be more tolerable
for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
And as for you, Capernaum:

Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld.

For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom,
it would have remained until this day.
But I tell you, it will be more tolerable
for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
18 JULY, 2017, Tuesday, 15th Week, Ordinary Time

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Ex 2:1-15Ps 68:3,14,30-31,33-34Mt 11:20-24   ]

God is our deliverer and He is our savior.  Indeed, it is God’s desire to save us.  He has always wanted to save His people.  It is significant that God saves us so that we can save others.  God saved Moses so that he could save His people.   The name given to Moses means “I draw you out of the waters.”  In the responsorial psalm, the psalmist also prayed, “I have sunk into the mud of the deep and there is no foothold.  I have entered the waters of the deep and the waves overwhelm me. This is my prayer to you, my prayer for your favour.  In your great love, answer me, O God, with your help that never fails.”   We too were in our sins and sunk deep in the mess of life.  But Christ saved us through the waters of baptism when we died to our sins.  Through the passion and death of Christ, we are raised with Him in the resurrected life.

But we are not saved for our sake.  We are always saved for others.  When God delivers us, He has in mind for us to deliver others as well.  That was the case of Moses when he was saved from the waters so that he could lead the people across the waters from slavery in Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land.  This was true of Peter and Paul as well.  They were saved by the Lord, forgiven and set free.  In turn they became great evangelizers.  This is something we must never forget.  God does not bless us just for our sake but for the sake of others.  Moses likewise responded by protecting his countryman from being bullied by an Egyptian.  He saw one of them being ill-treated and his natural instinct was to fight for his rights. Having been rescued himself, he did the same for others.

Only those who have suffered much can empathize much.   We tend to champion the underdogs only because we were once underdogs ourselves.  Those who have gone through difficult times can better identify with those who are suffering.  That was why Jesus became man.  He assumed our humanity, born into the poverty of His people and shared in the humanity of His people.  For this reason, Jesus was a compassionate high priest.  He understands our pains and our struggles.  He feels with us in our sickness, alienation and rejection.  We too, especially when we become better off and or have recovered from our struggles or illnesses, should learn to be more compassionate with those who are suffering.  The call to mission always springs from a desire to save and heal those who have suffered much like us.

But seeking to save others does not mean that we should right a wrong with another wrong.  Quite often in the world, we see much violence in the name of justice.  So called ‘religious people’ kill in the name of God.  Those who champion justice would kill others to fight for their rights.   We must be careful that we do not fall into extremes in the desire to help those who are in the same situation as were in.  That would be only a reaction, not an action on our part, in the face of suffering.  In the case of Moses, instead of helping the situation, he made it worse by killing the Egyptian.  In his disgust, he allowed his anger against injustice done to his countryman to be expressed in violence.  He took things into his own hands.  He did not follow the right way in his desire for justice.  To take a life was not in accordance with the plan of God. This was not the way to right a wrong.  We cannot overcome evil with evil.  “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.”  (Rom 12:17) St Paul made it clear.  “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Rom 12:19-21)

As a result he had to flee “from Pharaoh and made for the land of Midian.”  Perhaps, God needed to teach Moses the right way to deliver others from their misery.  He had to understand the ways of God.  He had to be healed of his old wounds first before he could heal others.  Otherwise, when we act out of our raw wounds, we tend to be excessive and reactive towards the oppressors or in undertaking certain actions. St Paul preached at Damascus soon after his conversion and almost got himself murdered as well.  (cf Acts 9:23-25) He too went away to Arabia to reflect on his conversion experience and grow in his relationship with the Lord. “Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.”  (Gal 1:17)  It is always dangerous when one acts from one’s wounds as many do in their attempts to fight for the marginalized.  It is said that oppressors were once a victim.  So much so that in helping those who are suffering, we act from the raw wounds that are still hurting us.

On the other hand, there are those who, although have been helped and delivered, remain inward-looking.  They take their privileges for granted, like the townsfolks from Chorazin and Bethsaida.  “Jesus began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles had been worked, because they refused to repent. For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard on Judgement day with Tyre and Sidon as with you.” In spite of the miracles that Jesus performed for them, they were not responsive to the Good News.  Their lives were not changed or transformed.  Perhaps Jesus’ remark in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine’s, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you” (Mt 7:6), came from such encounters.

There are many who have taken for granted the blessings they received in life.  Instead of being grateful and thankful to God and to those who have blessed them, they remained indifferent.  This is the tragedy of life.  There are some people who are so grateful for the little things we have done for them.  They remember our kindness for life and in turn want to bless others with whatever blessings they have received.  Indeed, we hear stories of those who have been helped by the Church when they were poor.  Now that they have become rich, they recount their stories of their gratitude to the Church for standing by them in those difficult times.  They remain eternally grateful to God and the Church and seek to help those who are less fortunate.

Then there are others we have helped much, financially and in so many other ways.  They take us for granted, remain unappreciative and demanding.  What is most hurting is that those people whom we have sacrificed our lives for, given all we could and supported them in every way, would later turn against us.   For such people, we do not condemn them.  They deserve our pity rather than judgment.  This was the way Jesus felt for those people in Chorazin and Bethsaida.  He spoke out of sorrow for them rather than anger at their ignorance and indifference. At the end of the day, they were the ones who deprived themselves of the fullness of the grace of God’s blessings.

Today, we are called to be like the psalmist who is ever so grateful to God for delivering him from the troubles of life.   “I have sunk into the mud of the deep and there is no foothold.  I have entered the waters of the deep and the waves overwhelm me.  In your great love, answer me, O God, with your help that never fails.  As for me in my poverty and pain let your help, O God, lift me up.  I will praise God’s name with a song; I will glorify him with thanksgiving.  The poor when they see it will be glad and God-seeking hearts will revive; for the Lord listens to the needy and does not spurn his servants in their chains.”  The Lord listened to the prayers of the needy and those in the depths of their pains.  Filled with gratitude and joy, they glorify God in their lives.  Let us not receive the grace of God in vain, like the people in the towns that Jesus preached.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved


Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore 



1. there went a man of the house of Levi, &c. Amram was the husband and Jochebed the wife (compare Exodus 6:2 , Numbers 26:59 ). The marriage took place, and two children, Miriam and Aaron, were born some years before the infanticidal edict.

2. the woman . . . bare a son, &c. Some extraordinary appearance of remarkable comeliness led his parents to augur his future greatness. Beauty was regarded by the ancients as a mark of the divine favor.
hid him three months–The parents were a pious couple, and the measures they took were prompted not only by parental attachment, but by a strong faith in the blessing of God prospering their endeavors to save the infant.

3. she took for him an ark of bulrushes–papyrus, a thick, strong, and tough reed.
slime–the mud of the Nile, which, when hardened, is very tenacious.
pitch–mineral tar. Boats of this description are seen daily floating on the surface of the river, with no other caulking than Nile mud (compare Isaiah 18:2 ), and they are perfectly watertight, unless the coating is forced off by stormy weather.
flags–a general term for sea or river weed. The chest was not, as is often represented, committed to the bosom of the water but laid on the bank, where it would naturally appear to have been drifted by the current and arrested by the reedy thicket. The spot is traditionally said to be the Isle of Rodah, near Old Cairo.

4. his sister–Miriam would probably be a girl of ten or twelve years of age at the time.

5. the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river–The occasion is thought to have been a religious solemnity which the royal family opened by bathing in the sacred stream. Peculiar sacredness was attached to those portions of the Nile which flowed near the temples. The water was there fenced off as a protection from the crocodiles; and doubtless the princess had an enclosure reserved for her own use, the road to which seems to have been well known to Jochebed.
walked along–in procession or in file.
she sent her maid–her immediate attendant. The term is different from that rendered “maidens.”

6-9. when she had opened it, she saw the child–The narrative is picturesque. No tale of romance ever described a plot more skilfully laid or more full of interest in the development. The expedient of the ark, the slime and pitch, the choice of the time and place, the appeal to the sensibilities of the female breast, the stationing of the sister as a watch of the proceedings, her timely suggestion of a nurse, and the engagement of the mother herself–all bespeak a more than ordinary measure of ingenuity as well as intense solicitude on the part of the parents. But the origin of the scheme was most probably owing to a divine suggestion, as its success was due to an overruling Providence, who not only preserved the child’s life, but provided for his being trained in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Hence it is said to have been done by faith ( Hebrews 11:23 ), either in the general promise of deliverance, or some special revelation made to Amram and Jochebed–and in this view, the pious couple gave a beautiful example of a firm reliance on the word of God, united with an active use of the most suitable means.

10. she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter–Though it must have been nearly as severe a trial for Jochebed to part with him the second time as the first, she was doubtless reconciled to it by her belief in his high destination as the future deliverer of Israel. His age when removed to the palace is not stated; but he was old enough to be well instructed in the principles of the true religion; and those early impressions, deepened by the power of divine grace, were never forgotten or effaced.

he became her son–by adoption, and his high rank afforded him advantages in education, which in the Providence of God were made subservient to far different purposes from what his royal patroness intended.

she called his name Moses–His parents might, as usual, at the time of his circumcision, have given him a name, which is traditionally said to have been Joachim. But the name chosen by the princess, whether of Egyptian or Hebrew origin, is the only one by which he has ever been known to the church; and it is a permanent memorial of the painful incidents of his birth and infancy.


Commentary on Matthew 11:20-24 From Living Space
After the apostolic discourse of chap 10, Matthew goes back to narrative.  In two passages preceding today’s Jesus reassures the disciples of John the Baptist that he is indeed the “one who is to come”, that is, the Messiah and Saviour-King.
This is followed by a passage where Jesus complains of those who close their minds to God’s word.  John the Baptist led the life of an ascetic in the wilderness and they did not listen to him.  Jesus socialised freely with all kinds of people and they accused him of being a glutton and a drunkard.
So today Jesus warns three towns where he spent much of his time: Chorazin, Bethsaida and especially Capernaum.  If Jesus had done in the pagan towns of Tyre and Sidon what he had down in these predominantly Israelite towns, they would have converted long ago. Even Sodom, the biblical image of the very worst in immorality, would have done better.
It is important for us to realise that, in today’s Gospel, Jesus is primarily speaking to us today.  If many non-Christians had been given the opportunities that we have received through our membership of the Christian community, they could very well be living much more generously than we do.  To what extent are we listening to God’s word?  How much of it do we try to understand?  And how much of it is reflected in our lifestyle?  Are we clearly and obviously followers of Christ and his Way?
Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
• The Discourse of the Mission occupies charter 10.  Chapters 11 and 12 describe the Mission which Jesus carried out and how he did it. The two chapters mention how the people adhered to him, doubted the evangelizing action of Jesus, or rejected it.
John the Baptist, who looked at Jesus with the eyes of the past, does not succeed in understanding him (Mt 11, 1-15). The people, who looked at Jesus out of interest, were not capable to understand him (Mt 11, 16-19). The great cities around the lake, which listened to the preaching of Jesus and saw his miracles, did not want to open themselves up to his message (this is the text of today’s Gospel) (Mt 11, 20-24). The wise and the doctors, who appreciated everything according to their own science, were not capable to understand the preaching of Jesus (Mt 11, 25). The Pharisees, who trusted only in the observance of the law, criticized Jesus (Mt 12, 1-8) and decided to kill him (Mt 12, 9-14).
They said that Jesus acted in the name of Beelzebul (Mt 12, 22-37). They wanted a proof in order to be able to believe in him (Mt 12, 38-45). Not even his relatives supported him (Mt 12, 46-50). Only the little ones and the simple people understood and accepted the Good News of the Kingdom (Mt 11, 25-30).  They followed him (Mt 12, 15-16) and saw in him the Servant announced by Isaiah (Mt 12, 17-21).
• This way of describing the missionary activity of Jesus was a clear warning for the disciples who together with Jesus walked through Galilee. They could not expect a reward or praise for the fact of being missionaries of Jesus. This warning is also valid for us who today read and meditate on this discourse of the Mission, because the Gospels were written for all times.  They invite us to confront the attitude that we have with Jesus with the attitude of the persons who appear in the Gospel and to ask ourselves if we are like John the Baptist (Mt 11, 1-15), like the people who were interested (Mt 11, 16-19), like the unbelieving cities (Mt 11, 20-24), like the doctors who thought they knew everything and understood nothing (Mt 11, 25), like the Pharisees who only knew how to criticize (Mt 12, 1-45) or like the simple people who went seeking for Jesus (Mt 12. 15) and that, with their wisdom, knew how to understand and accept the message of the Kingdom (Mt 11, 25-30).
• Matthew 11, 20: The word against the cities which did not receive him. The space in which Jesus moves during those three years of his missionary life was small; only a few square kilometres along the Sea of Galilee around the cities of Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin. Only that!  So it was in this very reduced space where Jesus made the majority of his discourses and worked his miracles.  He came to save the whole of humanity, and almost did not get out of the limited space of his land.  Tragically, Jesus has to become aware that the people of those cities did not want to accept the message of the Kingdom and were not converted.
The cities become more rigid in their beliefs, traditions and customs and do not accept the invitation of Jesus to change life.
• Matthew 11, 21-24: Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum are worse than Tyre and Sidon. In the past, Tyre and Sidon, inflexible enemies of Israel, ill treated the People of God. Because of this they were cursed by the prophets. (Is 23, 1; Jr 25, 22; 47, 4; Ex 26, 3; 27, 2; 28, 2; Jl 4, 4; Am 1, 10). And now Jesus says that these cities, symbols of all evil, would have already been converted if in them had been worked all the miracles which were worked in Chorazin and Bethsaida.
The city of Sodom, the symbol of the worse perversion, was destroyed by the anger of God (Gn 18, 16 to 19, 29). And now Jesus says that Sodom would exist up until now, because it would have been converted if it had seen the miracles that Jesus worked in Capernaum. Today we still live this same paradox.  Many of us, who are Catholics since we were children, have many solid and firm convictions, so much so that nobody is capable of converting us. And in some places, Christianity, instead of being a source of change and of conversion, becomes the refuge of the most reactionary forces of the politics of the country.
Personal questions
• How do I place myself before the Good News of Jesus: like John the Baptist, like the interested people, like the doctors, like the Pharisees or like the simple and poor people?
• Do my city, my country deserve the warning of Jesus against Capernaum, Chorazion and Bethsaida?
Concluding Prayer
Great is Yahweh and most worthy of praise
in the city of our God, the holy mountain,
towering in beauty,
the joy of the whole world. (Ps 48,1-2)
Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore (July 14, 2015)
St John captured it so poignantly when he wrote “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”  (Jn 1;11)  Jesus who loved His people so much and who came for them even instructed His disciples “not to go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.  Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Mt 10:5f)


The failure to respond to grace is the gist of today’s gospel.  The scripture readings invite us to consider the graces that we have received from God.  Like the Chosen People of God, we fail to take cognizance of the many wonderful graces we have received from Him with respect to our faith, life, health, material sufficiency, loved ones and friends.  Miracles are happening all around us every day and yet we are so blind to the wondrous works that God is doing for us and with us.  We fail to see these as signs from God, tokens of His love and mercy for us.

Instead, most of us take God and His graces for granted.  In Singapore, we are so fortunate in that there are ample avenues for those of us who are serious about deepening our faith.  We have the daily Eucharist celebrated at our parishes, and as if these are not near enough, we even have the Eucharist brought to the vicinity of our work place.  We have plenty of Adoration chapels open for us to pray in comfort.  There is even one, the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at CSC, which is open 24 hours throughout the year.  For those of us who are internet savvy, there are plenty of websites that offer scripture reflections for the day.  In terms of faith formation, we have talks, seminars and retreats in the parishes and our retreat houses.  And if we need community, there are neighbourhood groups and numerous movements and organizations to join, according to the charisms God has bestowed us with.  But how many of us avail of these resources?  More importantly, how many of us are making full use of the graces given to us so that we can deepen our faith and grow in charity for ourselves and for each other?

Not only do we take God and our faith for granted, we take our loved ones for granted as well.  It is ironical that we are more grateful to strangers and acquaintances who help us with small favours now and then, rather than to our friends and loved ones who spend much time and resources on us.  The love and kindness shown to us by our spouse and intimate friends seem to be something owed to us and not perceived as graces given to us.  When we take people for granted, especially those who are close to us, we do not grow in our love for them.  We are not appreciative because what is supposedly a gift from their goodness is seen as a right due to us.

Finally, most of us have received the blessings of God in vain.  God has blessed us with talents, wealth, health, career and success, yet we do not use our resources to help others, to contribute to the Church and society.  Instead of using what the Lord has blessed us with for the good of humanity, we use them only for ourselves.  Worse still are those who use their talents and resources for evil purposes, to manipulate others, to acquire more power and wealth for themselves.

If we have received the grace of God in vain, there will be serious repercussions. Jesus has this to say to us, “And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard on Judgment day with Tyre and Sidon as with you.  And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be exalted as high as heaven?  You shall be thrown down to hell.  For if the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have been standing yet.  And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard as the land of Sodom on Judgement day as with you.” In warning them about the imminent judgment, He was not saying that God is a vindictive and merciless God.  On the contrary, Jesus was trying to express the lamentation of God who could not bear to see the self-destruction of His people.  The truth is that what we sow will be what we reap.  The disastrous consequences will be brought upon by ourselves.  For failing to use the graces of God responsibly and gratefully, we will cause ourselves and even our innocent loved ones to be destroyed by our sins.

You can read all of Bishop Goh’s sermon from last year in our archives:

O God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small…




Opinion: Stop the violence, fix the famine

February 23, 2017

South Sudan has more fertile farmland than it would need to feed its people. Analyst James Shimanyula says that this is not possible without an end to the continuing ethnic violence.

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By James Shimanyula
Deutsche Welle

South Sudan, Africa’s newest country, has remained in the throes of ethnic fighting and extreme economic crisis over the past three years and recently declared a national disaster related to famine. South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makwei, said that at least seven million out of the country’s population of twelve million are in dire need of food.

According to the minister, the international community has responded to the government’s urgent appeal for food aid and the first shipments are expected to arrive in the country before the end of February.

“Never, never has the country faced such a thing,” said Makwei on the phone from Juba referring to the famine.

Since South Sudan became an independent country six years ago, it has depended on the international community for food aid. The government in Juba cannot constantly depend on international food aid and should move away from aid-dependency syndrome.

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South Sudan — Vast tracts of fertile land in South Sudan is not being used to grow crops

The country’s fertile land has the potential to produce plenty of food for its people as it did following independence in 2011. But the land is now utterly unproductive because of the endless ethnic fighting and the country relies on food imports from its neighbors like Uganda. And gone are the days when the people of South Sudan were proud to own hundreds of livestock, especially cattle.

To make matters worse, rains have become erratic over the past two seasons and there is little prospect of significant rains before August of this year.

As UNICEF and other aid groups are reporting, the cause of the famine is not environmental but political. Ongoing ethnic violence is killing dozens of people every day and displacing tens of thousands more.

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Shimanyula is a journalist and analyst based in Nairobi

The fighting is between government forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and fighters loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar. Kiir is a member of the Dinka tribe, the country’s largest ethnic group while Machar comes from the Nuer, the second largest tribe.

Luckily for South Sudan, the Nile River traverses its territory. The time has come for the government to utilize the waters of the Nile to irrigate the fertile lands that lie on either side of the world’s longest river.

Farmland close to towns such as Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile Region, Bor and the capital Juba could be transformed into South Sudan’s major breadbaskets. These areas are fertile and once irrigated, they can produce large quantities of maize, millet and other crops that form the country’s staple foods.

Since South Sudan currently depends too much on oil production for income so the addition of cash crops could boost its economy.

Be that as it may, the painful fact that remains is that famine has become the tragic reality in South Sudan and without the cessation of ethnic violence, it will continue gripping the country for the foreseeable future.

James Shimanyula is an expert on South Sudan based in Nairobi, Kenya.


Ethiopia blames ‘foreign enemies’ for unrest — Government declares a six-month state of emergency

October 10, 2016


© AFP/File | Several people were killed in a stampede in Bishoftu, near the Ethiopian capital on October 2 after police fired tear gas at protesters during an Oromo religious festival

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – Ethiopia said Monday that “foreign enemies” like Egypt were behind an unprecedented wave of protests that has prompted the government to declare a six-month state of emergency.

Ethiopia’s government is facing the biggest challenge of its 25 years in power, with anti-government protests spreading, foreign owned companies targeted and a harsh security crackdown that has killed hundreds so far failing to quell the unrest.

“The kind of threats we are facing, the kind of attacks that are now targeting civilians, targeting civilian infrastructures, targeting investment cannot be handled through ordinary law enforcement procedures,” said communication minister Getachew Reda.

Protesters from the majority Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups say they are marginalised by the minority Tigrayan-led government which they accuse of monopolising power and controlling the economy.

But Getachew said traditional enemy Egypt had allegedly trained and financed the rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), regarded by Ethiopia as a terrorist group behind the protests.

“We know for a fact that the terrorist group OLF has been receiving all kinds of support from Egypt,” said Getachew.

“Its leaders used to be in Asmara (Eritrea) now they are in Cairo.”

He said “elements in the Egyptian political establishment” were fomenting rebellion, seeking to promote “historical rights” over access to the River Nile.

Ethiopia is building a hydropower dam on the Nile close to its source in the Ethiopian highlands, raising fears in Egypt which depends on controlling the flow of the Nile’s waters for its survival.

Last week Ethiopia’s foreign ministry summoned Egypt’s ambassador to discuss “the current situation”, according to Ethiopian state media.

“The government has every responsibility to restore order,” Getachew said, a day after the government announced the state of emergency.

Getachew said the “extraordinary situation” demanded the state of emergency but insisted it did not amount to a “blanket ban on civilian life”.

He raised the possibility of concessions to protesters such as a government reshuffle and a “broadening of political space”.

Looming Global Water Crisis: Water Grabbers, A Global Rush on Freshwater

January 11, 2013

Suez Canal picture - a tanker ship in the Suez Canal

The Suez Canal. Photograph by Jacques Marais, Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

A container ship makes its way through Egypt’s Sinai Desert via the Suez Canal, a shipping lane opened in 1870 to connect the Mediterranean and Red Seas and expedite trade between Europe and Asia.

Along the western edge of the canal, irrigation systems that rely on Nile River water create a bright green landscape in a region that otherwise receives less than an inch (or 20 millimeters) of rain a year. The sandy Sinai Peninsula lies in contrast to the east. The peninsula is part of the ancient Nile River Delta, formed millions of years ago during a period of abundant rainfall, but as the river changed course, so did the climate of the Sinai.

Nile River picture - A man stands on a cliff above the Nile

Photograph by Antonio Ribeiro, Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

This piece is part of  Water Grabbers: A Global Rush on Freshwater, a special National Geographic Freshwater News series on how grabbing land—and water—from poor people, desperate governments, and future generations threatens global food security, environmental sustainability, and local cultures.

A man surveys Nile River boat traffic near the Aswan High Dam in Egypt.

The river—one of the world’s longest at 4,225 miles (6,800 kilometers)—runs a south-north course from its headwaters in central Africa to the Mediterranean Sea.

From the Ethiopian highlands to the arid deserts of South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt, the Nile River and its tributaries have shaped the history and fate of the region’s diverse peoples.

(Related: “Grabbing Water From Future Generations.”)

Civilizations were built on the productivity of rich and reliable floodplain agriculture along the Nile. Soil fertility in the river basin traditionally depended on annual floods that washed nutrient-rich sediment onto the riverbanks. Now dams and elaborate irrigation schemes prevent this natural cycle of recharge. While the Aswan High Dam revolutionized Egypt by controlling flooding and making riverbank development less risky, it also prevented silt and natural fertilizers from reaching farm fields, forcing soil degradation and the need for chemical fertilizers.

—Tasha Eichenseher

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