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River Nile: A ‘conversation’ with Uganda’s popular tourism destination


SPECIAL FEATURE | THE INDEPENDENT  | What would a conversation with the River Nile itself be like? A river, talking back to man?  We can only imagine… but are lucky to come across Arwa Ahmed Hamood Alsaadi, a Ugandan lady with deep Arabic roots, who has travelled to Jinja for the new year celebrations. She is here to enjoy the experience, but also get some answers – from River Nile.

Arwa Ahmed Hamood Alsaadi, considers herself 100% Ugandan because of the love she has for the Pearl of Africa that is home to amazing flora and fauna, water bodies, cultural sites, cities, education and health institutions and above all receptive people. She loves visting the Nile, which is the longest River in the World and is nicknamed the Father of African Rivers. Its source starts right from the Eastern City of Uganda, Jinja.

Alsaadi teaches at the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) in Mbale, but in her spare time, promotes domestic tourism. She recently travelled to Jinja and engaged River Nile in a ‘conversation’ as part of her domestic tourism adventures.

Alsaadi: Who am I and whom shall I be?

The Nile: (Silence)

Alsaadi: You have been here since time immemorial. You came before all people. They found you here, O Nile. When I am in an Arab country they call me an Arab. But when I am here they call me a Ugandan.  O Nile, may I throw myself into you? Or should I fly up in the sky? But the sky wants a soul without a body. Therefore, I shall throw myself into you.

The Nile: (Screams  No, no)

Alsaadi:  You Nile, talk?

The Nile:  Yes, but nobody has ever talked to me so that I respond to them. Do not plunge into the water, for the water wants the soul, not the body. The body floats on water.

Alsaadi: You don’t like me?

The Nile: I like you but I told you the truth.

Alsaadi: Ok. Please, River Nile tell me who am I?

The Nile: Contemplate about the water of the Nile, you will find yourself.

Alsaadi: Who am I and who shall I be? I lost love among my family. They see me as an Arab but in other countries they call me a Ugandan. I don’t know except this land.  I want my people to love me. I don’t want to be a stranger amidst my family.

The Nile: You are my daughter.

Alsaadi: You really mean it? Am I your daughter, really?

The Nile: (in a loud voice): Pronounce your name well. Say that you are the “daughter of the source of the Nile”. When you just say: “Daughter of the Nile”, it means you are a Sudanese or an Egyptian girl. But you are a Ugandan. You should therefore say: “I am daughter of the Source of the Nile”.

Alsaadi:  I am daughter of the Source of the Nile. Here I am, father. Please tell me about my grandfather.

The Nile:  Your grandfather travels with the train. Your grandmother is a peasant at the railway station. Both of them love people like I do to those that ‘talk’ to me!

Alsaadi: Tell me more stories. Why is it that I have so many names? My paternal uncle calls me Kagoya. My maternal uncle calls me Birungi, My grandfather called me Namakula and the neighbors call me Nambozo? I am not like my sisters; each has only one name.

The Nile:  The people of Uganda are like water.

Alsaadi: What do you mean?

The Nile: My daughter, water is composed of oxygen and hydrogen. When oxygen is separated from hydrogen, you remain with air (gases). ‘We Ugandans’ do not separate because by that we will reduce ourselves to air or mere dust. Water is the secret behind life. The secret of Uganda is – in unity there is strength. Division among members of one tribe or among various tribes (tribalism) is as dangerous as the separation of oxygen from hydrogen.

Alsaadi: O, Source of the Nile, thank you for the advice. I shall tell my people about the dangers of disunity and tribalism.

The Nile:  Tell them that Africa is against tribalism. Then how can you sow it on Ugandan soil? A person has no freedom to choose his parents or race. This is a gift from the Creator. For instance, there are people with no Asian or European origin and are born with a light color (albinos). That choice is not within the capacity of human beings. All people are descendants of Adam and Eve.

Alsaadi: Thank you. I shall tell them my new name. I am the ‘Daughter of the Source of the Nile.”

The Nile: You are welcome. But will you visit me again?

Alsaadi: I shall always visit you and whenever I face any problem I shall contact you to help me in solving it. Goodbye, father.



Tourists aboard a boat up the Murchison Falls on the Nile. FILE/PHOTO

Alsaadi’s ‘conversation’ with the Nile comes amidst jubilation by Ugandan tourism enthusiasts and promoters after a US Television Channel, CNN named Uganda amongst the best destinations to visit in 2023. Apart from River Nile, the country boast of the expansive shores of Lake Victoria, snowy Rwenzori Mountains, beautiful wilderness playground, treks to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or up to the craters of the Virunga Volcano Chain or whitewater rafting along the Victoria Nile and more.

Through the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Uganda recently realigned its identity as the most ideal travel destination in the world not for just tourists but travelers in general to experience the uniqueness and diversity the East African country offers. Alsaadi’s ‘conversation’ with the Nile aligns well with UTB’s agenda.

While flagging off a group of 300-400 people traveling to explore the Elgon region towards the end of last year (2022), Uganda Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, Lilly Ajarova said, Uganda is indeed the pearl of Africa because of its diversity and uniqueness. “We have everything else the world has…we want travelers to know that Uganda is a destination of value for money.”

Available data from UTB indicates that Uganda has 54% of the remaining world’s mountain gorilla population and with that position it prides itself as the key destination for mountain gorilla experience.

Beyond that, in terms of primates, the country has more primate species than any other destination in the world. It has some of the very unique features in the world which makes it the best destination for travelers, tourism enthusiasts like Alsaadi.





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