On the Heels of the Hill

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Chapter 11: Less of Men

Brian and Ruth had not separated at all and had picked jerrycans and jerrycans of nsenene, but were still going hard. “Yeyizire Kizibwe,” Brian said as he picked the type of nsenene called Kizibwe (green grasshoppers) from the grasses. Ruth looked at him and asked, “Haven’t you been picking only Kizibwes? I am hearing only Kizibwe on your lips.” She continued searching the grasses and she also picked another type of nsenene, “Yeyizire Muheesi.” So many other types of nsenene including Omugyenda, Mbogo etc were picked or caught flying.

With the sun half way, too warm, and too bright, most people, especially young men had got off their shirts, and some women had too removed their blowses and then tied their lessos around them covering the whole lower back and the breasts on the chest. The sun then started scorching and one old man was heard telling his friend who had a bald head to either get some shelter or go home because the sun was hitting hard onto his bare head. Everybody around them turned to them and laughed heavily and then Kekimuri, a woman known for her critics showed disgust, spat a black chunk of saliva on a rock and said,

“What kinds of men are you? You also bring your bald head onto Buzina to smell the thighs of women as they bend to pick nsenene. Real men are not here, real men are herding their cattle, picking coffee, or doing other manly duties. Go home and leave Nsenene to the women and children. You will also end up having lugambo like women because you love doing what they do.”

People then laughed more heavily this time and this sent a very big embarrassment to the old men. The two men stretched their legs as they got up from where they were squatting and started to walk away slowly. But one of the old men, not the bald headed, stopped for a second, looked back at the people jeering them to leave and said, “Women are not supposed to eat nsenene. Why then do you stuff your stomach with nsenene and even forget to give your husband Omwaka?” Nsenene in the kinyankole culture were believed to be a transition from one year to another, even if they came in around November and December and sometimes January. Everyone in the family had to eat at least one nsenene from the very first round of nsenene in the area. That way it was believed one had entered a new year. For some members of the families working in the cities, the loyal wives would boil the nsenene, dry them as a preservative mesasure, then pack them and either send or bring them to their husbands and children in the cities, to usher them into the New Year. So Kekimuri had never done any of this, and her children were very young that they even feared to touch a fried nsenene because they had been traumatized by the bites from the live nsenene. So the question was, “Who ate all the nsenene that Kekimuri picked?”

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