Here we are again in Uganda. Nothing’s changed much, except the fact that this time no painstaking adaptation was needed; I just came home. So I have had a few days to re-familiarize myself with the sounds of urban wildlife, mosquito nets and traffic jams, my heavyweight desk and the presence of Tuisku asleep on it.
The day after I arrived, we attended the biggest society event of the year, the annual Royal Ascot (sic) Goat Races in Munyonyo. Kaija’s valuable connection in the (Indian) business realm, Zakir, arranged us tickets to the biggest sponsor tent, where all food was free. So were the drinks, which inevitably lead to a fair amount of collective drunkenness. Despite most of the guests being locals, the upper-class arrangement of the whole thing made it impossible to completely shake off a certain post-imperialist undertone.
The goats, nevertheless, were rather hilarious. Not naturally inclined to race each other, they generally jog along as a tight pack and stop to graze whenever they feel like it. There was a guy whose only (but very demanding) job was to keep the goats moving. Kaija won eight thousand shillings (less than four euros) in one race when her goat passed the calmly grazing former leader two metres before the finishing line. The goats’ apparent reluctance to win has an interesting effect on betting principles: there aren’t any.
There were eight races in all, ten “competitors” in each. I’m still not sure whether they used the same goats in several races, just with different names. But the organizers, sponsors and owners certainly use their imagination in the way they exploit the British horse race tradition. The tongue-in-cheek spirit of the whole event was well captured in the race program. Let me reproduce a few examples.Goat Name ---------------- Out Of (Dam) --------------- By (Sire)