Catching Birds

Growing up in the plush lands of Acholi temper by flat plains, a lush grassland and countless birds was a ephemeral 20150109_133635experience next to be side linked with any mark of tardiness or boredom.  Wild memories of the games my grandfather taught me remain imbued in my head and before this missive ends we shall talk about that and the birds we caught, animals we tracked and in general the life we led.  He was a lanky fella my granddad- Fidele was his name and he had a phenomenon wife.  She was the one who first introduced me to the roast goat head delicacy solving a mystery that had befuddled and stymied my young thinking head.

The Acholi are very particular about the meat and how its is shared or distributed – moreso the one which is hunted and killed.  An elaborate custom is build around who has owner rights of the shoulder left and right, the hind quarters and even the intestines- governed by whose spear first hit the animal, whose was second and later who volunteered to carry the carcass back to the homestead. But today let us first focus on domesticated animals and the mystery of the vanishing goat head.

On one particular bothersome day Ayaa, as we fondly called her, discreetly beckoned me to the smoky kitchen.  Without hesitation, for the fondness was mutual, i went to the smoke filled hut- smoke notwithstanding.  In between teary eyes I got instruction to sit and served to me at 11 Am thereabouts was the most well smoked goat head I had ever seen.  That it looked un-pretty did nothing to dissuade me- it smelled ok. And full of trust of the intentions, of her who used to call me Cwara, dug into the sad heap.   My tongue shortly later affirmed the correctness of the menu for a watmon and hence began a life long passion for organic well smoked goats head.

I did not play with the ordinary toys.  My toys come straight off the hands of Fidele Lodi.  Whenever I desired to play he would laugh and assure me of my package the next day.  And off in the bushes he would go and return with my yet assembled apparatus.  My game was called Lawala It is the epitome of simplicity.  A circle is formed and my earnest task would be to cast a spear as it rolled from the hands of my playmate, the son of Lugwarmoi.

As young lads we had a penchant for hunting birds.  These filled the gaps between breakfast and the rumblings of a stomach demanding for midday nourishment.   It was only later when we discovered the universal simplicity in bird catching.  A device still employed today in the forest of Pajule and in the bars of Las Vegas, in the boulevards of Pattaya or the sweet home of Tumatoo.  Dregs of kwete, a local beer, are delivered where the guinea fowls – a most enchanting bird beautiful dressed and undressed- play and after they have had their fill you collect as if you are harvesting- I coko calo ingwedo.  If you want to tell me how it is different in the bars of Kampala drop me a line at or twitter: @Apenyamoi1