Terje Oestigaard

“Before doing research in Africa, I studied in Nepal and India attending some 600 cremations on open pyres. Questions about life and death have kept fascinating me. By looking at the exceptional you can learn a lot about a culture, not least about everyday life. Death is a prominent theme in African traditional religion, not only as the end but also as the beginning and source of new life. The focus on life and death led me into studying the importance of water, and water and religion – and from the holy rivers in Hinduism there was one major river where these topics could be investigated even further: the Nile. When I began to study the source of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia and later the source of the White Nile in Uganda, it was because hardly anything had been done on these issues, despite that the sources had played a central role for 2,500 years in the history of ideas. This is not the least because of the status of the source of the Blue Nile: it is the divine river Gihon flowing directly from Paradise. Not many places can offer a direct connection with God.” Terje Oestigaard, Senior Researcher at NAI.

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