Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
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Do you know your totem? Eye to eye with the Red tailed Monkeys
THUMP! THUD! CRASH! If ever there was a rude awakening, this was definitely it. It’s early. It’s been one hell of a journey to get here, the house rat has kept us awake has been running across the mosquito net and I need my shuteye. I turn over and try to get back to sleep. Above my head the gates of hell burst open. At any moment I feel the roof will give way and whatever’s out there will land on us; I can’t imagine what’s making such a racket. “What the hell …?” I shout at Steve. I wander outside to investigate the bird-like ‘tut tut’ coming from a nearby tree. A blue face peers down at us. He sports a white, heart shaped patch on his nose. Pure white cheek whispers frame his distinctive features. Resting to feed on some leaves, his sumptuous long copper tail loops suggestively around a branch. He quietly chomps away. His thick tail fur glows russet in the sun’s early rays. The sunlight picks out a spectrum of colours in the grizzled brown fur of his back. The white fur on his belly looks as soft and downy as a baby rabbit’s. I imagine how it might feel to brush my face against it. “You must have a Ugandan name,” my friend Rashid had insisted one day, and so I was named Nagawa, protector of the Enkima clan. In Uganda, each clan is represented by a totem, which can be an animal, bird, fish or plant. You are not allowed to hunt, eat or kill your totem. I am honoured to have been awarded custody of such a fabulous creature.
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