A ZOO BY LAKE VICTORIA
Imagine you are new in Kampala city. Do not heed the sky colour overhead or you may damage your calendar otherwise. Daylight transcends the twelfth hour of day and aurora will not exit in due time. Just miles from Owen Fall, Massaka Road is the only road worth my memory. Its serpent–like curves slowly unravel the city of millions. At six in the morning, the sky is colored; the breadwinner husband drifts to work in a pensive mood. Probably providence will be kind to him before his at-home wife threatens divorce. And this road curves along Ndeeba, the Ugandan Macca of motorcycles. With banks on either side, the road crawls with vendors: some sell you staff that crumble right off.
Downstairs, some bus awaited us. We could feel people’s stares like we felt midday sticky weather. Like a Blue Whale, it swallowed us in no time. It was green and every eye knew it belonged to Makerere University. Yet, we were not from there. Uganda transport logistics is a reflection of its bigness. Within minutes, we were past the statute of the unknown. We had no time to know in whose honor it had been erected, but it was apparently about “war”. Roads were beautiful and every aspect of the city monopolizing. Along busy avenues, it was English; on board Kirundi alone was within hearing. Imagine a culture within another without perceptible collision.
We were eventually there and then happy to. The aura brimmed with unimagined exhilaration. It is scary, you know, to enter rats-infested areas. Live beasts, however, peopled International Wildlife Centre. At first hand we approached a bit impatiently. The wind was the least of our worries even if the centre was Lake Victoria’s coat—off in Entebbe. In other words, there were worries to ignore at the breathtaking sight of the animals. We felt comfortable with its calmness and freshness. I regret not remembering which animals saw us first. But I believe our sight was the sole sense at work—in the zoo, truly seeing eyes are never satisfied. Crocodiles and chimps were no new. On the contrary, a leopard, rhino, lions, giraffes, pythons, among others, were mind-blowing. Again, a once-for-all look will not satisfy your overwhelming curiosity. I have no special words to describe all we sensed on that April morning. But I sort of felt elated nearing the man-eaters risk free—just 3-5 m in-between. Predation turns kind of pseudoscientific given man-animal “chemistry”. Animals behave humanly behind bars. “Do not feed animals” and “Do not throw things at animals” were instructions. Defoe views man as comfortable with animals and beset by his fellow men.
Touching animals was out of the question, there were compelling precautions that kept the event without casualties. Yet, people paid to ride on animals, such as donkey and a camel, and poised for a picture thereon. You are sort of phobic, right? A panicky woman nearly fell off. Here all race forgets its eulogy and cling to the basics of the human species: whites, Asians, and blacks were one. For hours, cameras had multicolor focuses.