‘We fault the oil companies’: TotalEnergies project puts Uganda’s sacred natural sites at risk

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As oil activities encroach on sacred natural sites, this small Ugandan community feels besieged.

Alex Wakitinti is worried about the sacred natural sites he tends in the large swath of bushy grassland near Lake Albert in Uganda.

It’s the same slice of his homeland that oil companies are developing in order for the country to become an oil producer by 2026.

But French oil company TotalEnergies and others working toward that goal are recklessly ignoring the significance of Wakitinti’s spiritual work, he said, as well as that of the other custodians minding hallowed natural sites in the remote district of Buliisa near the Congo border.

“According to the program of Total, custodians are not there,” said Wakitinti, chief custodian of sacred sites in Buliisa. “We are not in their program.”

That is a mistake, he said, making note of the bad luck that can come from disturbing these special places without performing the necessary rituals or making sacrifices to spirit mediums – like the tree Wakitinti recently knelt under to pray and present a bird’s nest.

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