Of Cows and Men

Today I finally managed to go to the Nile. Since I came to Bor, I’ve always wanted to go and see this famous river, but failed to get company. But then we finally set off this morning—and oh la la, what did I see?
Certainly not so many naked men! Hmmmm. I’ve never seen so many men in all their naked glory bathing in the river at the one time! How many exactly? Maybe twenty! Or thirty! So many naked men all in the water, bathing, fishing—as if it they were nine-year-olds! 
Okay, I have to stop rambling about that because there were other things to see on the Nile. Not just so many naked men. (How many times have I used that phrase? I’m still shocked.) But what impressive anatomies they had—the kind of stuff that many women dream about. I can’t even believe I’m talking about this on the blog. 
I wanted to take pictures, to save this precious memory for the rest of my life, but every time I took out my camera, someone came over to see what I was taking. I might have pretended that I wanted to go and take a pee behind a bush, and then I might have had a lot of opportunity to take as many shots of the hunks in the water as possible, but that thought never crossed my mind. I was too . . . stunned. 
They did not know I was watching them, I hope. I was wearing sun glasses and a hat, so they thought I was only looking at the river, yet I was feasting my eyes—okay, enough about that.
Now, I sat on a rock by the river bank, to enjoy the free show. There are these cafes on the riverside, selling mandazis and soft drinks and local beer. The men who think they are cool, the elite of the tribe, hang out in these riverside cafes to drink and gossip. I would say these are cafes were “formal”- and “educated”-looking men sit and drink and talk.
Well, I sat on a rock, enjoying the scene, and maybe the men in the cafes took notice of me. How, yet I’m so small I might be a little girl, I don’t know. A group of these men offered me a chair, which I refused. I insisted on sitting on the rock, all by myself.
By and by, one of them got the courage to come over to me. And we started to talk about this and that and Sudan and the other. Nothing serious. Only stuff you might talk about with a stranger. I don’t know if I’ve ever met him before. I meet so many men here and I don’t remember all their faces. (I hope you don’t read that wrongly, for I’m certainly not talking about any other kind of “meeting” other than what might happen if you ran into someone in the street.)
Well, I am talking to this gentleman. He seemed educated. He talked good English. Typical Dinka man. Tall. Lean. And surprise, surprise, he proposed to marry me. Just like that. One second, we are talking about the problems facing Sudan, the next, I thought he was going to say something like, “Yes, these rains are going to last another month.” But instead said, “Madam, will you be my wife?”
I don’t remember whether I was shocked or pleased or what. Anyway, I told him that I couldn’t, because I already have a husband. And he said, “Oh, forget about your husband. Get a black Sudanese man and you’ll not regret.” Now he named a price, which surprised me, because I did not think I would be that expensive in Sudan. He offered me a hundred cows!
One hundred cows. How much is that in dollars? Some cows cost as much as 500 USD! He told me I could go with him to the cattle market and pick whichever cows I wanted. Any cow. Here women are valued by how many cows they are offered before marriage. The cows, however, go to the parents, so daughters are precious commodities here.
Anyway, I replied, “It would be very difficult to ship the cows to the Philippines.” And he said, “Oh, is it expensive to ship the cows?” I had to try hard not to laugh. He probably thought the Philippines was a town down the Nile in Uganda, or maybe in Ethiopia. He sounded serious but I didn’t think he was. I wonder what would have happened if I had said yes.
Good thing the car came before he could utter another word, so I left him there, thinking about his 100 cows. I did not know I would be that expensive, because here the “expensive” brides are the young, tall, and uneducated ones. Young because they would bear more children. Tall because they believe tall women can do more work. Uneducated because they can’t oppose their husbands.
I guess this guy had a bet with his friends. He must have told them, “Give me one minute and I will marry that foreigner!” He probably thought all foreigners are liberal and would jump into bed with the first hunky giant they come across. Well, he must have lost a cow in that bet!
We drove back to the base camp, but what an exciting day it was. My Indonesian colleague fished for four hours, and all he got was a little fish (which they are cooking for supper). We did also go to this port where barges came from Khartoum with goods. Ah, but it’s now too boring to talk about that after the impressive accounts above. 

Children fishing on the Nile.

Women washing clothes on the Nile.

Men doing business on the Nile.

How I wish I took photos of the other men on the Nile!

1 Comment

  1. 😉 I should have taken you down to the river at Arba Minch! hehehe!
    Only 100 cows, you're worth far more than that, Reiza! I know you're having fun with all your adventures… but take care of yourself, will be thinking of you! Kx

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