By Deo Tumusiime
Often we visit the zoos and national parks to watch animals; and I am sure quite a few Ugandans could be planning a visit over the festive season. As we awe the animals, here are some of the descriptions we attach to them: The giraffe (so tall), hippopotamus (too fat), kob (very smart), monkey and chimpanzee (so human), zebra (so beautiful), lion (so strong), warthog (very ugly), elephant (so hilarious), deer (so dear), pussy-cat (so friendly), and I could go on and on.
Hmmm, and aware that we too, the human beings have our origin from the animal world, surely each one of us must be a relative to one of the above captioned animals (and others), or are some merely facades! I know scientists suggest that we are all related to the monkeys and chimpanzees, but I tend to differ. I have very honestly seen Ugandans so very akin to each of the above captioned animals both in looks and manners-some are like giraffes, others like lions, others like deers, and nowadays, we have quite a generation of elephants. The problem is that since no one wants to be called an animal, many times you only get to know which animal people think you are, during a quarrel; but I think it is high time we appreciated our relatives living in the bushes. You hear some wives abusing their husbands that “look at him, he’s like a buffalo” and many women tend to suggest that men are like dogs due to their uncontrollable sex libidos and some parents abuse their children saying, “look at you, you eat like a hungry lion”. Our brothers the whites often throw bananas at us under the pretext that all blacks are monkeys- they forget that black or white, we are all descendants of animals. In fact the next time someone calls you a dog for example, take no offence, it could be your true likeness and you are just not aware!
Before our pussycat kitty passed on a few weeks ago, I had keenly observed her behaviours from the time she was three months old. First, I witnessed her dating male cats and sometimes I had to chase them out of my compound when they made a nuisance of themselves especially in the evenings; then I watched her go through painful labour before popping triplets, just like some of us. There’s one thing I quite treasure in my life, which kitty often did to her little ones, and I liked- cuddling. People, if you truly love someone, cuddle them, cuddle them, cuddle them- and I am not talking of merely kissing, I mean c-u-d-d-l-i-n-g. It is the best way to keep your relationship on fire. On another occasion, kitty wisely carried her kits to hide them away from suspicious on-lookers, and I wondered how many parents leave their little children in the hands of house helps whose second name they don’t even know! So if for this attachment to pussycats, someone said I am quite like a pussycat, why would I get bothered? After all, it does the things human beings ought to do and even much better.
So, if I may ask, an innocent question, which animal is Uganda?
Mother Uganda seems to have picked the likeness of a kob as reflected on the Court of Arms, as well as the scarce Crane naturally created with a semblance of colours of the national flag. However, in reality, does Uganda sincerely behave like a Kob? In my view, No. Uganda is quite like an Elephant- so hilarious that despite being voluminous in many respects, her small tail makes her look quite funny. Below are some Elephant tendencies that make me think our choice of animal for identity ought to be re-aligned and changed to reflect the situation on the ground:
Free education for all is such a bodied achievement, but with a tiny tail of very poor performance makes Uganda such an Elephant.
Fat people like Geoffrey Kazinda are visibly so healthy and well fed, but with a tail of a long hand
Well-built beautiful upcountry roads, but with a tail of potholes in the Capital City; in fact, the road to a place called Bunamwaya is one of the worst roads I have ever travelled in my entire life.
A large referral hospital in Mulago, older than some of us, but with a tail of people crying of no drugs
Largely acclaimed as a multiparty democracy, but with innate party functionality;
No load shedding but with a tail of electricity not being affordable;
Awash with churches but with a tail of pastors and priests in and out of court for sodomy and pedophilia;
A well-equipped Parliament, each member with an iPad, but the Speaker crying foul of poor attendance;
A very powerful Head of State but with extremely weak or weakened ministers;
A seemingly good national football team, but no foot in the African Nations Cup since the 70s;
Well-dressed traffic officers on our roads but so cheap and corrupt;
A highly educated citizenry but still in dire need of expatriates to build our roads;
Married wives and husbands, fully wedded in church, but topping the list of HIV/AIDS victims;
And as if the above is not enough, some of us simply rely on foreign tourists to tell us how beautiful Uganda is, simply because local tourism has been so discouraged by the exorbitant charges! Feels like a Berlin Wall of sorts because we cannot meet our relatives in the wild next door!
Ah, so does the above picture truly make us more intelligent than our sister and brother Elephants in the bush or in the zoo? I tell you solemnly that for as long as we cannot re-align our ways, there’ll be nothing much to justify that we are any different from the animals in the wild. And by the way, while the rest of us are bothered about the Elephant presenting with a small tail, some people simply don’t give a damn!
Said and done, which animal in your view, best suits a description of your relative or neighbour next door? Or are you one of the lucky few- Elephant in shape but with a face of a Deer! Or with a heart of a Pussy-cat but character of a rat! And if you are as fast as a Cheetah, where to?
Which animal are you?
The writer is an international consultant