Mating Season

The night is unusually very still, and aside from the sound of the generator in the compound, there’s only silence. The resident frogs realized no one is pleased with their nightly orchestra, so they’re giving it a rest for tonight. And the owl that used to hoot tirelessly up the tree behind my hut has lost its voice. And the mongoose army, well, I think they’ve lost interest in using our camp as a battlefield since our pet cat Safari, their only nemesis, started seeking refuge in the vacant tent at night and going out only during the day. I’ve never seen such a coward of a cat before.
Safari is a far cry from her relative, Simba—the lion that refuses to leave the bush where our camp is. For a week now, he’s been roaring endlessly—starting with a soft moan, followed by the popular roar we hear on MGM’s opening whatever, and then it ends with a series of grunts. Now I don’t know why Simba’s doing that, but from my readings, a lion roars when it’s angry, hungry, suspicious, defensive, or in love.
Surely, Simba can’t be hungry because every day the antelope population around the area is reportedly getting fewer. He can’t be suspicious and defensive because we, the human beings in his territory, pretty much leave him to his lionly business. So I guess there are only two possibilities: Simba is in love and he’s angry—very angry. Thunder clap.

You see, some very unromantic villagers captured a lioness and kept her in a cage at the Ministry of Wildlife, guarded by a pack of protective ostriches and vicious crocs. I’ve never been to the Ministry, but my Dinka colleagues say that Lioness is getting lonely and that she has been roaring in the past few nights as well. Hmmmm . . . that gets you thinking, doesn’t it?

Waiting for her knight in furry armor.

So maybe Simba and Lioness are sending out secret messages to each other—declarations of love and loyalty. I can’t come up with another explanation. Lioness roars her distress signal—“Save me, my hero!”—and Simba comes to rescue his damsel. However, being a knight in shining armor is not as easy as he thinks. In order to get to this prison of a Ministry, he needs to cross three big roads and heavily populated villages (and by populated I mean those with four or five homesteads). He needs to overcome these obstacles to get to his princess and finally consummate their love. (Do you know that lions can mate for as often as 50 times a day? But I won’t talk about that.)
Now we know from books that lions are the kings of the jungle. But when they’re not in their territory, they lose their self-esteem to the level that hyenas laugh at them every night, just outside our compound.  And Simba is no exception. Simba is afraid of humans, the same humans who captured the love of his life. So all he can do is roar, hoping to hear in return the roar of his lioness. 
Poor lovers. How can we humans be so cruel? Why can’t we just let them do their own business? Now Simba is roaring again. And this time, it’s getting louder and more desperate. I don’t want to be in his way. Maybe tonight, he will finally free his ladylove. Another thunder clap.

While all that is happening, a big search operation is underway in a village at the other side of town. My colleague called me this morning saying he’s not coming to work because his cousin eloped with her boyfriend, and the clan of the two families are seriously hunting for the lovers. The man (a Dinka) lives in the US, and came back to Sudan to marry his Dinka girlfriend. However, in thier culture, they pay the bride price (usually in the form of 50-100 cows) before the wedding can take place.

No cows, no honey!

Now, not everybody who comes from America, the Land of Milky and Honey, actually tasted the milk and the honey. So this guy tries to cheat his way into getting the love of his life, because he can’t afford to buy the cows that the family of the girl asked for.

It would have been better if the cows go to the bride, so he can borrow money to buy the cattle and when they get married, he can just ask his wife to sell them so he could pay off his debts. But that is not the case here. The bride price goes not only to the immediate family of the girl but also it is divided among other relatives (i.e. uncles, aunties, grandmas, grandpas, first cousins, second cousins—did I miss anyone?) And the bride gets none. So it is a tricky situation.

Dinka women: they are worth a hundred cows.

And because, like Simba, our guy is desperate to get his girl, he succumbed to desperate measures. He arranged to meet the girl in Kampala, Uganda, where she’s completing her nursing degree, and convinced her to elope with him, so they can live happily ever after . . .

NOT!
My colleague said they are not worried at all, and that this elopement is even better for them (meaning his family). Because if they find the couple—which, he said, is very easy considering everyone knows each other in Dinkaland—it means the guy will have to give even more cows to pay for his stupidity or audacity, depends on how you look at it.
Now tonight, the moon is bright and the breeze cool, and Simba is grunting in the distance. The atmosphere is conducive for romance. But it looks as though some people—and animals—will not feel the love tonight.

12 Comment

  1. Great post as ever. I love the connections that you make, how the place you live comes alive in the detail.

  2. Jenn says: Reply

    Wow–what a great post!! I feel bad for the Lions–why can't they just let the two Lions reunite? I mean–all of us romantics want a happy ending!!

    Thanks for sharing!! Jenn

  3. Love your writing! Ahhh the agony of romance. Nice to know it's not just us, humans, who suffer through it. 🙂

    Oh, and I learned a thing or two about Dinkaland. Great post!

  4. admin says: Reply

    @Petra: Thanks. Glad you liked it. There are so many interesting stories to write about it here, especially relating to cows and love. 🙂

  5. admin says: Reply

    @Jenn: I also feel really sad for them. I wonder if lions can survive without their mate.

    Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

  6. admin says: Reply

    @AJ: Yeah, romance and agony are apparently not exclusive to our species. But at least for us, we can do something about it, in one way or another. As for the lions, all they can do is roar. 🙁

    Love your writing too!

  7. There's something really sad in seeking recognition isn't it? Looking forward to seeing you on the Blog-A-Licious Blog Tour 7. http://peacefrompieces.blogspot.com/2011/07/blog-licious-blog-tour-7.html
    Best wishes – Dora

  8. Great Blog…very interesting content.

    New Follower.

    Elizabeth

    http://silversolara.blogspot.com

  9. admin says: Reply

    Thanks, Elizabeth. I hope you'll enjoy the other posts as well.

    I'm loving your book reviews. Great job!

  10. deeps says: Reply

    imagination and thrill packed one…!
    great picts too…

    just stopping by 🙂

  11. admin says: Reply

    Thanks for dropping by, deeps. Hope this won't be your last. 🙂

  12. Great pics and post!

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