Confessions of an Academic Pseudo-Giraffe
Goat traffic

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)

Desperate to Win -------- Fear of Consumption ------ Heartless Owners
Form: Poor performance recently, needs to do well today or could be in a stew.

Run ------------------------- Steam ------------------------ Friday
Form: Weighed in on target today and is one to watch out for on the finish line.

Wonder Goat ------------- Nowhere ---------------------- Surprise
Form: Surprise entry out of retirement.

On the way back, we experienced the most absolute traffic jam of our lives so far: little more than ten kilometres took about three and a half hours. Kampala traffic jams are always worse than they should be because of non-existing queueing discipline. Waiting for one’s rightful turn is simply not in fashion. Instead, everyone aims at jamming as many cars as possible in as little space as possible. An extra queue will always appear in a space two metres wide, and at the next bottleneck those cars will try to squeeze into the original queue. Some of these maneuvers will always fail, and everyone loses time because of inpatient idiots blocking the traffic. It may be a cultural thing, and there may be a hidden logic to it, but sometimes locals just literally drive an ignorant mzungu crazy.

Old Ones
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huhtikuuta 2005
toukokuuta 2005
kesäkuuta 2005
heinäkuuta 2005
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syyskuuta 2005
lokakuuta 2005
marraskuuta 2005
joulukuuta 2005
tammikuuta 2006
helmikuuta 2006
maaliskuuta 2006
huhtikuuta 2006
toukokuuta 2006
kesäkuuta 2006
elokuuta 2006
syyskuuta 2006
lokakuuta 2006
joulukuuta 2006
tammikuuta 2007
helmikuuta 2007
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