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Nile dam row: Ethiopia’s pop stars hit out



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Teddy Afro has posted translations of his lyrics in English, French and Arabic on Facebook to get his message across

Pop stars in Ethiopia have been belting out tunes marking a victory in what is seen as a battle with Egypt over who has rights to the waters of the River Nile.

In June, Ethiopia began filing the mega dam it has been built on the Blue Nile – which could have repercussions for countries downstream.

After this year’s rainy season, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd) now has 4.9 billion cubic metres (bcm) in its reservoir, which is enough to test the first two turbines.

Satellite pictures from July showed the dam filling up:


A large reservoir is beginning to form behind the dam

12 July 2020

Satellite image showing the River Nile from above in northwestern Ethiopia, 12 July

26 June 2020

Satellite image showing the River Nile from above in northwestern Ethiopia, 26 June

Ethiopians have been celebrating online using the hashtag #itsmydam. This has not helped smooth tensions as talks resume between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan about how the dam is to be operated and how much water will be released in future.

Since construction began on the dam nearly a decade ago, negotiations have floundered.

Battle song

Ethiopia’s biggest pop star Teddy Afro has released a song seen as a warning to Egypt that it should learn to share the waters of the River Nile.

Called Demo Le Abbay, meaning “If They Test Us on the Nile” in Amharic, it criticises “Egypt’s shamelessness” – implying that the North African nation can no longer call the tune.

Egypt, which gets 90% of its fresh water from the Nile, has expressed its concerns that the dam could threaten its very existence.

It wants a deal to endorse what it sees as its established rights to 55bcm of water from the Nile a year, but Ethiopia has refused to commit to releasing a specific annual amount from the dam.

More about the mega dam:

Many Ethiopians see Cairo’s position as an attempt to maintain colonial-era agreements, to which Ethiopia was not party, and prevent it from using its own natural resources.

Teddy Afro’s song is a fusion of reggae and a traditional battle song in Amharic, Ethiopia’s most widely spoken language.

But he clearly wants his message to get across to the wider world as he has posted translations of the lyrics in English, French and Arabic on his Facebook page.

Some of them include: “I own the Abbay [Nile] waters” and “I showed graciousness but now patience is running out”.

‘The world can see us’

A less confrontational song, simply called Ethiopia, is by Zerubabbel Molla, a young and upcoming singer-songwriter.

While the dam is not directly referenced in his lyrics, images of its construction are included in the video version of the song released at the end of June.

It is upbeat and has lines such as: “The sky is clear now, so that the whole world can see”, suggesting how the dam will push Ethiopia on to the global stage.

Another, suggesting Ethiopia’s time has come, says: “The horse can only bring you to the battlefield. Victory is from above.”

These allude to what Ethiopia hopes to achieve once the mega dam is fully operational, becoming Africa’s biggest hydroelectric plant

It aims to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity upon completion, providing power to tens of millions of its citizens who are without regular electric connections.

Ethiopia also hopes to meet the electric demands of its economy – one of the fast-growing on the continent.

In several other recently released singles, a sense of accomplishment is an overriding sentiment.

Drumming up donations

For instance Mekdes Abebe and Tadesse Mekete’s Abay – Ye Titbit Qal, meaning “Nile – Word of Prophesy” in Amharic, declares that “a new day has begun” and calls for people to put their hands in their pockets to help finish the construction of the dam.

Many of these songs are now favourites with radio stations in the capital, Addis Ababa – getting regular airtime.

And Teddy Afro’s song has really created a buzz on social media with close to a million views on YouTube within 24 hours of its release, despite it not having an official video.

Explore the Nile with 360 video

a 360-degree version of the Damming the Nile VR series from BBC News

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Alastair Leithead and his team travelled in 2018 from the Blue Nile’s source to the sea – through Ethiopia and Sudan into Egypt.

This excitement does seem to have encouraged the public to increase their financial support for the dam’s construction.

According to the government, in less than a month after the filling of the reservoir began, more than 116m birr ($3.2m; £2.4m) was collected from the public – far more than in previous months.

Ethiopia is financing the construction of the $4bn dam through donations and government bonds.

While the government is no doubt happy with these musicians contributing to the national fervour, they are not normally known for their pro-government views.

Musicians have previously helped drum up support for the project – especially in the initial stages.

With Ethiopia aiming to make the dam fully operational in the next three years and with the negotiations grinding on, you can expect more compositions to hit the airwaves extolling Ethiopian pride in its mega dam and looking forward to the country’s renaissance.

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema



When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.


Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded




The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19




Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  

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