Raving with the Pygmies on Lake Bunyonyi

Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
Trip End May 01, 2013

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Flag of Uganda  ,
Thursday, September 27, 2012

Woke up at 5.45am and packed up the truck. Hit the road to the other side of Lake Bunyonyi after having scrummy french toast for brekkie and putting up tents at Cepha Inn.

'Waywahday' = 'Thankyou' in Ugandan.

Bought fruit and samosas from town and visited Francis's 2 hour old grand-daughter - all the girls on the truck were suggesting she should be named after them! His daughter had given birth at the local hospital where women give birth inside and then lay on mattresses outside on the grass to recover. Very strange by our western standards! 14 Muzungus visiting a new born baby (still white - no pigment had formed in her skin yet!) - we certainly drew the attention of the other new mothers and their families!

'Agandi = How are you?
'Niche' = I'm fine

The van we were travelling in ran out of petrol half way up the hill - everyone was in disbelief and trying to stay positive. It is Africa, after all! So a few of us hiked to the vantage point up a steep winding track - it was worth it! Tash - 10 please...

'Bunyonyi' means 'Place of little flying birds'. 250 secies of birds and 5 species of fish in the volcanic lake (25km x 7km wide - 29 islands in total).

One Tree Island - We were told that this is the place, otherwise known as Punishment Island, where the community would leave young women pregnant out of wedlock to die. 60 young women and girls in total succumbed to this fate. No punishment was given to the boys.

We all clambered into a rickety wooden boat and sailed across the lake to the school on the far shore. After a steep and frankly knackering climb ('The Killer Climb' - Tash, 10..) we were greeted by lots of smiling and inquisitive faces. Once we got our breath back and had a photo opportunity of the stunning scenery and our bright red faces we were invited to each of the year group classes in turn showing how the teachers use the medium of song and dance to teach English and Maths to both the Ugandan and Pygmie children - it was amazing and inspirational and it was clear that the kids really enjoyed and respected their education.

The scene was somewhat tainted by an old tribesman who smelled of booze and stole Vikkis bottled water - this would have been acceptable under different circumstances, after all, we have all had mouths like Ghandis flip flop after a night on the pop - but in this instance it was the heat of the midday sun and we had just climbed a mountain and we were not in the mood to have our water taken by a gap toothed boozer! Vikki wanted to kick him in the goolies. Alun gave us some water instead and the situation dissipated.

Essentially the day was about integrating with the kids. We played football with them, exchanged high-fives, and Rob - the muscle man of the group, saw how many kids he could hang off his biceps! They loved it - and so did we! All of the children then assembled in the school yard (for want of a more appropriate term!) all had dressed in their best clothes (still dirty and torn but they were proud in them) and they sang and danced their little hearts out while we watched on clapping our hands and encouraging them further. Each song was punctuated with several solo performances by some children who then selected their own Mazungu from the watching tourists to dance wth them. They all sang in English about what they wanted to be when they grew up; a doctor, a nurse, a policeman, a teacher. They were adorable and clearly valued their education and the opportunity to learn. By stark contrast, a small posse of kids sat outside the school and when we asked why they did not attend school we were told that they were 'grazers'. These kids, some as young as 5, were responsible for grazing the communities animals. Seemed a little unfair that they didn't have the same chance.

On the flip side, we were introduced to the first Pygmie child to attend the school and this represents the aspirations of the project - to reintegrate the displaced Pygmie people back into society through education.

To return the favour, 14 Muzungus performed a very amateur 'Heads, shoulders, knees and toes' and 'The Birdy Song' much to the joy and delight of the watching children - they found it hilarious!

We danced long and hard in the baking heat and finished by dancing with the Pygmie villagers before giving them gifts and sweets and heading back to the boat. The journey back consisted of Vikki and I being literally dragged down the hill hand in hand with the school kids who had finished for the day and didn't want us to leave - we were a loose rock away from a broken neck or ankle but we made it to the boat in super-quick time!

Half way across the lake the boats outboard motor broke down. Second breakdown of the day. Well, it is Africa after all! Luckily, our cries of SOS to a passing boat were successful and pretty soon we reached a lakeside resort where a wonderful supper of crayfish masala and roast pork had been prepared for us. Delicious and a well deserved meal following a full and energetic day! We all made some donations to the project, thanked Francis and congratulated him for the new addition to his family and headed back to the jetty.

Tired and content we then took a hair-raising ride down the hill in the smallest van in the world, 17 of us crammed in sardine style, bouncing over potholes and just making sharp bends with dramatic drops only metres away. When we got back to the tents we were very relieved and all managed to sleep pretty well after our long and emotional day.
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annewardell on

What a fantastic experience! Sounds like you all made those childrens' day - and they made your day too? Xxxx

Tasha Saint-Smith on


Sue on

I love it! Want pictures of the kids and of course you lot singing and dancing!

Chris on

The kids perched 300 feet up, clinging to the mud wall of the building - were they on the 'naughty step'?

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