gorilla tactics


Got back to Hamburg a week ago from a fantastic three week holiday during which my skin went from unblemished, lady-killer chocolate to gorilla. Thus have I began to use Moisture-iser, which I have never had a need for till today – I can’t even spell the word with confidence, hence the hyphen inserted cleverly to make me look like I’m creative.

I don’t even know if I am using the right cream for what’s ailing me, but the nearest on hand was a tube of something they hand out on the plane (if you can’t remember getting a cosmetics bag then maybe the curtains in front of you were closed as the nice young ladies dished out the goodies shortly after serving the desserts and cheese.)

What would it matter if I looked a little like a Gorilla, you will ask, if you are a non-Ugandan resident of London city and have ever walked past our High Commission offices there. You may have noticed over the years that in the window of that auspicious building, smack on Trafalgar, is a sculpted artistic impression of a Mountain Gorilla (is it still there?). This because Uganda is one of the last places you can visit to see these fantastic creatures (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_gorilla). Not in the city, but out in places like Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks (visit http://www.google.co.ug/search?hl=en&q=Bwindi+Tour&btnG=Search to choose a company to help you with the holiday bookings).

Whereas I certainly don’t want to strengthen the stereotype built by association – look at Idi Amin and the Mountain Gorilla and a couple of senior government ministers – anything we do to hype the country up a little bit is certainly welcome.

I got here in September with a Hard Drive full of photos of Uganda – particularly shots taken in the National Parks so I could easier encourage my colleagues to pay a visit. During one of my photo-presentation sessions (held informally at my desk at the flick of the mouse), two young ladies asked the priceless: “But do you have a city in Uganda?”

Licked. My invitation to view photos usually consisted of my claiming that I saw giraffes on a daily basis on my way to work – which was not entirely untrue if I was driving through the Kabalega National Park to go and visit farmers in Arua, but obviously didn’t cover my daily route along Port Bell road. They were always enthralled by the photos I had taken of hippos, giraffes, elephants and buffalo – but even more.

“Look at the sunshine!” they always remark in the same tone of wonderment I have heard people at home using when they look at photos of kyeyo-ists standing next to hotel signposts and Macdonald’s/KFC/Burger King outlets.

And these young ladies had made the very same noises throughout the entire couple of hundred photo slides. Now they wanted to see evidence of a city.

“Why?” I asked, stalling.

“Where will we stay?” they asked. Now, remember this is Germany. I am constantly surprised to find that people here have jokes (stereotyping goes both ways) but I had to be cautious here.

“So where do you think I live?” I asked back, pretending to be indignant.

My pretence evaporated as fast as their worries did.

They actually thought we all live in jungles. They probably believed that the hippos in those photographs were vermin constantly eating away at my potato crops.

I can’t go around looking anything like a Gorilla – and that damn sculpture in the London office had better be taken down or upgraded soon then complemented by some extremely aggressive marketing efforts.

Oh yeah, and I took photos of Kampala (The Sheraton & Serena, Bank of Uganda, Crane and Barclays Bank ATMs, Rock Garden Cafe, etcetera) to show these guys. Just in case.

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