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2015
Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Agrarian Change, Property and Resources | Uppsala

The damming of Bujagali Falls, located only 8 kilometers north of the historic source of the White Nile or the outlet of Lake Victoria, has been seen as one of the most controversial dams in modern times. In 2012, the dam was eventually inaugurated after years of anti-dam opposition and delays. A unique aspect of the controversies was the river spirit Budhagaali living in the falls blocking the dam and opposing the destruction of the waterfalls. This spirits embodies a particular healer – Jaja Bujagali, but he was bypassed by another healer who conducted no less than three grandiose appeasement and relocation ceremonies for the Budhagaali spirit clearing the way for the dam. Why has this particular dam been so controversial? How can a water spirit block a nearly billion dollar dam? What was the ritual drama behind the construction of the dam and is it possible to move a spirit? And what happened to Budhagaali and the indigenous religion after the falls were flooded and can a river spirit be drowned in its own element – water?

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