By: Sam Doak
February 1 2023
This bridge has been repaired multiple times and has since been replaced with a modern one that connects to the country's road network.
A meme showing people crossing a damaged bridge with the aid of ropes has been circulating in far-right circles online. The caption to this image reads, "a bridge in Ethiopia, built by Europeans centuries ago. Africans never rebuilt the bridge, so they cross it via ropes."
Instances of this meme have been shared across Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. It appears to be popular largely because far-right users believe it demonstrates the superiority of Europeans. A clip featuring the bridge on TikTok has been liked over 5,000 times by users.
A reverse image search reveals that the bridge shown in this meme is the Sebara Dildiy Bridge on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. According to the Daily Press, it was constructed in the mid-1600s with the help of the descendants of Portuguese soldiers and remained in use until 1935, when the country was invaded by the soldiers of Mussolini's Italy. At this time, Ethiopians destroyed the bridge's central section to slow advancing troops.
It is true that the Sebara Dildiy bridge (which translates to "broken bridge" in Amharic) was in a state of disrepair for a significant amount of time. However, the narrative presented in far-right memes concerning the structure is false. Historical satellite photographs from Google maps reveal that a second bridge exists a short walk away from the Sebara Dildiy bridge, addressing the lack of available crossing points. Furthermore, the Sebara Dildiy bridge has been repaired multiple times.
According to the Daily Press, the Sebara Dildiy bridge was first repaired in 2002. This effort was largely funded by Ken Frantz, an American who later started the nonprofit Bridges to Prosperity. The repairs to Sebara Dildiy bridge reportedly lasted until 2005, after which it was temporarily fixed using cables and logs. After this, the second footbridge was constructed nearby, followed by a modern one connected to the country's road network that is visible on present-day satellite maps.
While the photo does show the Sebara Dildiy bridge in a state of disrepair, it is incorrect to state that it was never repaired. While crossing was facilitated with ropes for an extended period of time, it has been repaired on multiple occasions. Furthermore, two other bridges have been built on the same stretch of river. This claim has therefore been marked as false.