Praise for Sacred Nile

An epic personal and spiritual journey expressed through images of unearthly and majestic beauty. Higgins’s iconic photography, supported by revelatory text, discovers in Africa a common ancestor for many of today’s major religions.

David Henry Hwang


This visually stunning book also drops some serious knowledge about the cultural and religious connections between the lands that border the Nile: Ethiopia, Nubia, and Egypt from the dawn of history down to the present time. This knowledge is still rejected by many mainstream Egyptologists, but as they become more familiar with other African cultures, religious traditions, and languages, the connections described in this book will be confirmed in academia.

Solange Ashby

Egyptologist, University of California, Los Angeles

In this collection of breathtaking photographs, Chester Higgins takes us to the African source of the West’s spiritual heritage. These images transport us to a different time and place. These are the stories of our religious roots.

Ari Goldman

director, Scripps Howard Program in Religion, Journalism and the Spiritual Life, Columbia University

What makes Sacred Nile so spectacular, and singular is what emerges from every image: reflecting an artist’s compassionate and intelligent gaze, held up by an abiding faith in the sacredness of each human being.

Maaza Mengiste

author, The Shadow King

The photos in Chester Higgins’s Sacred Nile are the most remarkable images of Egypt I have ever seen; the text is equally important and innovative. The authors present a thoughtful and quite original meditation on the ancient religion of the Nile Valley and how it infuses life today.

Bob Brier

Egyptologist, C. W. Post University

Sacred Nile takes us on an unforgettable journey down the world’s most important cultural highway. With soul stirring text and awe inspiring photography, our introduction to the African roots of faith and spirituality is truly transformative.

Anthony T. Browder

independent researcher

This important, original book gently forces one to think, question and make connections. It is beautiful and visually stunning, while at the same time eye-opening, and for me it provides a feeling of peace, serenity, beauty and harmony.

Sylviane Diouf

historian of the African Diaspora, Brown University

A fascinating tableau of timeless visuals shot with dignity, a sense of history and the power of truth. Higgins spots the divine, weaves it with the earthly, while deconstructing his own long-held views; in the process, he helps us shed some of our own.

Tefera Gedamu

host, Ethiopian television

Sacred Nile is the book Chester Higgins was born to make. He has spent over five decades compiling images of religious practices past and present along the banks of the Nile. The result is a vibrant visual history annotated by an informative text with Betsy Kissam that brilliantly celebrates the matrix of African religious impulse.

Jessica B. Harris

culinary anthropologist

Tis Esat (Water That Smokes), Blue NIle Falls, 6,035 feet above sea level. Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, 2002 in Sacred Nile, spectacular photographic images — a colorful celebration of the deep roots of the great Nile River civilizations — show three historical and cultural concepts. The first is that dwellers along the waterway from Ethiopia to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt share abundant cultural practices; second that there is cultural continuity from ancient to modern times. And third, Judean, Christian, and Muslim religious beliefs are deeply rooted in the mythology and culture of these Nile River dwellers going back several millennia.

Sameh Iskander

Egyptologist, NYU

Chester Higgins uses his camera as a window into the souls of his subjects. He accomplishes with photographs what W.E.B. DuBois did with words in his epic treatise “Souls of Black Folk.

Rabbi Sholomo B. Levy

President, International Israelite Board of Rabbis, New York

Sacred Nile is a bible of African imagery that stuns you with the truth of the Abrahamic spiritual beginnings in a continent that, despite rape and ravage, has preserved its holiness and faith. It all started in Africa. Before Abraham, before Moses, before Jesus, before Mohammed, there was the sacred passage of faith along the Nile River. Amen.

Felipe Luciano


Through this mesmerizing book, Chester Higgins defines the very existence of a human civilization which includes all of us whoever we are. These stories and pictures touch in every detail, our very origins and multiple heritages. It’s a comfortable feeling to set aside all critical and skeptical consideration and just let yourself be penetrated by Chester’s gaze and journey.

Raoul Peck


In a stunning visual journey through lush and rugged terrain, Higgins illuminates the art, culture and spiritual devotion the River Nile has inspired for centuries. These photographs, by turns intimate and expansive, are an impressive tribute to the space that lies between the physical and the spiritual in this extraordinary land.

Carrie Springer


In startling detail, Chester Higgins portrays a world that appears both of this world and otherworldly. His images are portals to another time — a glimpse into traditions centuries old — but they are deeply resonant because the world is simultaneously ours in the here and now.

Makeda Best

Curator Harvard Art Museum

This book is about a river and how the ancient people who lived along its banks were the first to worship God. Spirituality is so important to us, fellowship is so important to us, our culture is so important to us. Our churches should be culture bearers. We have to tell the truth about who we are. This book captures so beautifully and so well the walk of monotheism by African people.

Rev Calvin Butts

Abyssinian Baptist Church, Harlem

Sacred Nile reintroduces us to our most terrifying lost culture.

Quincy Troupe


SACRED NILE is a marvelous photography book that will inspire you and teach you. You will enjoy it and be humbled by it as well.

Ellen Levitt

Routes Magazine