Jinja, Source of the Nile
Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 21st December, 2013
Finding the source of the River Nile was an obsession for Victorian explorers. David Livingstone perished while frankly looking in the wrong place; John Hanning Speke had already correctly identified the outlet from Lake Victoria that fell over what he named Ripon Falls as the beginning of Africa’s greatest river. That is the White Nile, of course; the Blue Nile starts in Ethiopia, where I visited its supposed source a few years ago, and the two join at Khartoum, a city I found enchanting, even if the government is not. Anyway, yesterday I had the chance to go and see the Ugandan Source of the Nile, which is actually much more striking than I had imagined. A branch of Lake Victoria, called Lake Bujagali, mutates into the Nile at the hydro-electric dam where the Ripon Falls used to be. The body is already quite wide and swift moving, and I was able to drink in its atmosphere while having lunch, entirely alone, in the Mezzanine Restaurant on the bank, in the compound of the Jinja Backpackers comp9und. Jinja itself is a rather charming town, with suburbs of fine villas that would not be out of place in Virginia Water. The centre’s main street is lined with one- and two-storey buildings from the early 20th century. Some have an Indian flavour, reflecting the fact that that there used to be a thriving Asian business community here before Idi Amin threw them out. A few have since returned, in today’s more welcoming climate, but Jinja still has a sense of being frozen in aspic from a gentler age.