The Nile: A River that needs to be protected by all (Part 3)
By: Francis W, Wani
My second understanding of the River Nile started three years ago after my traditional knowledge of the river proved to be insufficient, inadequate and limited in all aspects of the Nile. This came about when my mother and other relatives who went beyond Nimule to Uganda to attend the funeral of my uncle who died in Masindi, brought back some interesting news about the Nile. They said that the Nile has two places of origin. One is in a lake called Albert and a source from farther south, a place they never know. They even said that there is a portion of the same river downstream called Laropi, which according to them was within Madi District of Uganda. This news was a shock to me but it gave me the impression that this great river has many names as it enters one territory as well as it has many sources
Whatever the case may be, the question we would have to ask is, what is the importance of this portion of the river called Lake Albert and Laropi to the people of Madi and Bunyoro, Paluo and other communities found around and between the lake and the river? These are new dilemmas to me. However, the people who went there said that the river brings a number of opportunities to those people. I am going to divide the discussion into two parts. One part will be discussing the importance of the river to the Madi and the second part will discussing the importance of the river to the Banyoro, Paluo and other communities.
According to the news brought by my mother and other people who went with her is that there are four things which make Laropi very important to the Madi and other people who use to travel to Kampala or other destinations east of the river. The following are what they identified to us back home.
The first reason why Laropi was important for the Madi is because it is a source of livelihoods for food. Those who live along the river get fish from Laropi for food for themselves and for the travellers who happened to pass that way. People who are travelling from Moyo District to either Kampala, Gulu or other cities of Uganda get fish for food from Laropi. Those members of Madi communities living the Laropi cultivates different types of food along the bank of Laropi. And from these they harvest food and even cash crops.
The second reason why Laropi is very important to the Madi is because it is the economic base for the local communities living along the river. The economy of these people depends on the fish which is caught. After catching they take to the market both within the other part of the district and even beyond. They also cultivate cotton for cash crops from their sale they get money, which they can use for paying school fees of their children and buy other commodities from the markets.
The third reason why Laropi is important to Madi communities along Laropi is because it provides drinking water to the people and their animals. It is a common case that water is very important to humans as well as to animals. This is the same for the people of the same communities.
The fourth reason why Laropi is very important to the Madi communities and other people who use that route to Kampala and other cities further South is because it provides transport to people who want to travel for whatsoever reason. Some travel for business purposes, other travel for leisure or tourism and yet others for visiting friends and relatives on the other side of Laropi. This makes the river a bridge between communities as a means of reaching those various destinations.
The second part of the discussion is the importance of the River Nile and Lake Albert to the people of Masindi and in the surrounding villages. As a matter of fact, the river which passes through Lake Albert provides many opportunities to the people of Massindi.These includes but not limited to the following
The first reason why Lake Albert is very important to the people of Massindi and the surrounding villages is because it is the border line between Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Uganda. This is the first time I heard that the Nile through the lake is connecting two countries, that is to say, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. It is in the same way that the river was connecting Uganda and Sudan at that time and South Sudan. And this is the beginning of what is now known as trans-boundary water resources of the Nile.
The second reason why River Nile and Lake Albert is very important to the people of Massindi is because it provides drinking water to the people and their livestock whether cattle, goats or sheep. Water as we know is important for human beings and their animals.
The fourth reason why River Nile and Lake Albert is very important to the people of Uganda is because of the wildlife, which are found in Murchison Falls National Park. From this national park, the government gets money and this can be used for providing services to the people around there is particular and to the people of the country in general.
The third reason why River Nile and Lake Kioga is important to the people of Masindi is because it acts as a means of transport to those communities who want to move from one place to the other for various reasons and activities. We could go on and on in discussing the importance of the Nile to the people of Masindi but the few we have mentioned could give us the glimpse the true picture of the importance of the river to the people along the Nile
In conclusion, I would like to say that the River Nile in all its different names as it finds its way down to its terminus in Mediterranean Sea takes along various forms of blessings to the people living along its banks. The most important of these are the provision of livelihoods, economic base, transport and border line between nations and people of the same countries and between of different countries.
As the discussion builds up, we discover that our understanding of the value of the river deepens and widens. I am therefore confident that this approach to the study of the Nile could enable us to understand the true value and importance of the river Nile to all people of the basin. Let us move together in this process so that the sharing of benefits of the common water resources of the Nile can be achieved.