On the Heels of the Hill

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Chapter 12: Stronger Bones

The top of Buzina was flat making a very nice small sized football pitch for the Ronaldos of the village. Boy all of whom were cattle herders had at one point in their lives broken their ankles, nails, shed blood, fainted and even fought on that pitch. Young boys had all played out all their sweat on the same spot with their half naked bodies showing so many hard to account scars. At the very first slope of the hill lay a sofa like rock which faced the village below and left the pitch behind it. Behind the pitch before the forest on the other side of the hill was a small flat rock which looked like a small flood of black water from up in the trees. The young stars had roasted their stolen food on that rock while playing and herding their fathers’ cattle.

Some of the boys had got tired of searching for nsenene, were tires from the scorching sun and one by one they ended up on the naked top floor of the hill. Two boys started up to wrestle for an award of nsenene and others started joining them and after a short while, a grand competition had been launched and the grand winner was to walk away with all the nsenene won from different rounds of the competition. Darius was there, very eager to be the grand winner. He had come with his sister Ronah who was panting like a dog. She had loosened her uniform and carried her cloth belt on her shoulders like a priest.

“Don’t tell me you want to join them?” asked Ronah. “You know you could even lose what you have. You forget that you are bad at everything.” Continued Ronah. But Darius was feeling very optimistic this time, or as he felt every time he gambled and lost. He had been punished for gambling away Nalongo’s spoons and plates but he had never listened. Ronah warned him against joining the other boys who were already whisking each other in the arena. When they got closer to the boys, Darius gave his kavera of nsenene and his school bag pack to Ronah. One of the boys noticed them and said,

“Bakooko are here!” All the boys turned and they Ronah with Darius in their restricted personnel area. One of the boys asked Ronah to leave immediately for she was disgracing their pitch.

“Oh, you might as well still believe in the gods, what a fascinating thing?” said Ronah with her pride in her eyes, and voice. She looked unshaken by the strong gladiators that lurked all around her.

“Hold your mouth young girl!” Darius warned his sister. Darius was starting to feel awry about the confrontation with those monsters. They had been his friends for a long time but they never really regarded him and they knew he knew that they would beat him up his dearest sister if she insisted on not leaving their pitch.

“Did you know even girls can play football or even beat men at wrestling? Continued Ronah.

“Beacause your mother can build a house, talk with men, she could be beating up you father like a rat.” One of the boys noted and the rest all laughed.

“That’s enough,” backed Darius who was by now all charged up with rage. He bent his big head forward, facing the ground but his eyes still elevated to look into the eyes of the sexists that were abusing him, his sister and their family. He scanned all of them with his sharp eyes until someone broke the silence again.

“Ah, he must think his mother is coming to his rescue.” Another one of the boys joked and yet laughter exploded. Ronah stepped forward with a wry smile and pointed her beautiful moonlike eyes at the boys, turned around and looked at all of them and then said,

“I challenge you.” She pointed at the biggest boy in the group. “I will wrestle you and if I win girls will also be allowed some uninterrupted time on the pitch.” Darius wasn’t buying the idea because he knew for sure that Ronah would lose and even if she won, girls would never be allowed on that pitch. No girls had ever been allowed on that pitch according to their forefathers who had played there until they got higher responsibilities and passed the tradition down to their children. He brought his head back up again and asked Ronah to stop her deviously tradition defying plans. “Why don’t you use those heavy English words and scare them off?” Ronah looked at her brother, laughed and said faintly,

“That’s like playing a flute for a dog. It can never understand the tune. They too won’t understand a thing. Sometimes new strategies are needed to tackle a challenging problem? Ronah insisted on going through with her plan which made the boys once again laugh out loud. The chosen giant laughed a totally unmatched laugh which ended with him saying’

“I will not even try to wrestle you.”

“Why?” asked Ronah, “because you are afraid of a small girl? What does that make you? A coward and definitely not a …”

Ronah was interrupted before she could say the word that made those boys feel themselves.

“I will just stand in one position and the only thing you need to do is to carry me off the ground and make sure my feet are completely off the ground.” The giant said. Was he asked of the girl in Ankole is called kitundu, one of those terms in wresting where one party alone is trying to bring down another party who stands erect in just one place. The boys all cheered and everybody got in position to watch the warrior princess try to take over the throne. Ronah gave back all the nsenene and her school bag pack back to her brother. She fastened her belt around her wasp waist came closer to her opponent in the middle of the ring whose boundaries were the half naked sun baked young adolescent scented boys. She looked so calm and unshaken but deep inside her, she wasn’t sure she could lift up the elephant that stood in front of her. As always even the strongest of mother tigers sweat whenever they try to bring down their prey. She collected herself and tried to engulf the giant with her small feeble arms. Everyone was eagerly waiting for the revelation of the winner. All the boys even Darius himself were very sure Ronah could never win. Everybody predicted her loss.

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