The Bush Pig Has Passeth

October 4th, 2012

Hamimu and I found the complete skeleton of a dead bush pig in the forest the other day.  So I put the head together and snapped a few photos.  Then we bludgeoned it with rocks to extract the teeth.  We were bored.

Achalle Came A’ Calling

September 28th, 2012

This is Achalle.  You don’t know him yet.  He lives in DC.  He came to visit me the other day and took a nap on my front porch. When I said hello to him through the window, he greeted me with this yawn.  It felt a bit unfriendly.

The War

September 27th, 2012

When the war came, I was already very sweaty.  I’d hands-and-knees-ed my way up the southern slopes of Kasekela valley, my hair torn out, my arm cut, my mood bordering on foul.  But then we reached a path and Uvila and her beaux took a breather on the hillside and I wiped the sweat from my eyes.  Then I began to notice the little boys.  They sat around quietly, watching, perched in the crooks of trees or butt-flat on the ground.  Some of them I knew.  And I knew they weren’t our group.  “Go away,” I hissed at Ofisi, the bumpy-faced tyke who always saunters into the office, his teeth poking out because they’re just a little too big for his mouth.  He stared at me, non-plussed.  “DC’s here,” I told Jessica, meaning to sound ominous, because we both know that the presence of another group will send ours running.  And, frankly, we were tired of running.


Then came the scream.


If you’ve never heard a baboon scream, it’s much like the draining shriek of the Wicked Witch as she melts to a puddle of goo at Dorothy’s feet.  It’s harsh and atonal, the sound a smoker of 70 years might make if run through with a broad sword.  It pierces and annoys in the way only Fran Drescher can, nasal and shrill and loud.  They barely pause for breath.  You wish them dead after only a few seconds as your ears threaten to bleed.  But this scream we heard, this scream was a battle cry, the ceremonial beginning to the clash of fur and teeth.  And it really ticked me off.


Lest you forget why it is we get a titch nervous around male baboons that are a bit worked up

As soon as the offending female begin to wail like a set of bagpipes in the incapable hands of a herd of donkeys, the males came running.  Because no one beats their women but them.  And suddenly AC and DC had drawn battle lines and there was screaming and angry grunting and males rushing back and forth and females climbing trees, tails raised to the heavens in fear, as they too began to bellow.  With nowhere to go we pressed ourselves into tree trunks and chanted useful phrases like, “Oh, shit,” and, “Arghhh.”  Teeth flashed and Hamimu and Hashim (our intrepid young assistants) picked up sticks to save themselves.  Then the fight began.

I’ve only seen two of these battles now, both between AC and the behemoth DC troops.  AC has five males with an occasional switch hitter named Lara (no idea why he has a girl’s name) who sits the fence and lives in both groups, and 11-ish females.  DC (Lara included) has eleven males and 22 females.  AC is the clear underdog (and Lara conveniently disappears whenever a fight breaks out).  And, yet, the little guys often hold their own and we get to watch as a barrage of fur races past us, putting DC on its heels as their males and females turn tail and run.  Soon, though, the tables turn and they are racing back our way, DC wild and hostile, canines flashing.  That’s mostly what a baboon battle is, a sort of tug-o-war of chasing with everyone chasing and chasing back and screaming and grunting (and shitting).  Occasionally, someone gets romped, really tossed on the ground, bit, stood-on, destroyed, but mostly everyone just screams and screams and runs and screams.  Females carry their children into battle, eyes fierce, while little ones cling desperately to stomachs and backs, their fates resting on the level of their mother’s bravery (or foolishness).  Some individuals hang back, offering shouts and grunts, totally willing to run after the throng in a slow lope that keeps them safely behind and then turn right back when their push fails.  Others, though, are in the thick of it, toeing battle lines like that cocky kid in Dodge ball who always stands right on the edge of enemy territory, daring you to take a swing at him.


Eventually the groups abandoned the path and took to the forest and we had no choice but to follow, our work unfinished.  Climbing through the vines we felt like undertrained soldiers in some backwater war, guerillas and snipers behind ever tree.  We eyed each baboon we passed to see which team they were on, careful not to approach the battle front and wishing the line was a little more clearly drawn.  A scream rose up from the right.  We froze.  We watched for movement and made split-second decisions about which tree we would hide behind.  But the scream went mostly unanswered, AC having been pushed up almost as high as they could go and DC not much caring to push them any higher.  We waited.  We listened.  “I think it’s over,” Jessica dared.  I spotted Unarasika munching on some ants.  “Guess so,” I said.  I surveyed the trees around us.  “What do you think’s for dinner?”

Little Andrea

September 19th, 2012

This is Arectra and her youngest child, Andrea, my second namesake (Arectra birthed an Andrea last year who thanked us all by promptly dying).

Just A Quiet Little Family Time

September 12th, 2012