It is impossible for a human being to give birth to a reptile and, in Kampala, that thought is granted validity without a hitch – because of all the cosmopolitanism and the apparent levels of education. However, such rationalization of things does not happen in Nakawuka, a village in the grounds of Wakiso District.
It emerged towards the close of last year that a woman in this community had given birth to a python and kept it with her [as a family member] since 2008.
It is said that the mid-aged Nalongo Barbara Nvannungi went on rampage when it dawned on her that the Wildlife authorities would be taking her “snaky child” away to Uganda Reptiles Village, Entebbe for the sake of public safety. Her dear family would soon fall apart and that was an idea she was never to take with enthusiasm.
“I am the one who gave birth to him,” she cried, “A parent cannot fail to take care of her child.” Needless to say; her heart was immensely broken. However the puzzle is; could there be a slim chance that a cold blooded reptile was disgorged out of a woman’s womb?
You would want to believe that Nalongo’s story is one big farce, especially as she tells of how she gave birth in a bush – where she could easily have picked a snake with her other baby. But then again dismissing a singular occasion does nothing to the long trail of beliefs and superstitions that African society has treasured and sustained for centuries, especially about certain animals. Today, we get to profile a few of these;
The Baganda call this one kiwuggulu. Owls are more feared than they’re tolerated. Their look is the first turn off – they have short, thick bodies with a curved beak and very large eyes. They’re ugly but rarely seen during the day since they’re nocturnal and hunt at night.
It is widely believed in Buganda that when it hoots loudly during night; that would mean an announcement of death. According to Jajja Resty Nansamba, an elderly lady in Kabimbiri, if this ugly bird ever sang near your homestead, you’d have to wait for bad news.
The Leopard [Engo]
Nansamba says that if this fierce carnivore ever wailed during the night, that notified the village members to brace themselves for a looming death of a very important leader, resident within the locality and that sooner or later, news of a fallen leader would come.
Likewise if a fox ever cried anywhere near someone’s homestead that means a death announcement as well.
Tradition that follows Baganda explains that if one ever stumbled across one of them, siga, that would be squarely a death announcement.
A gecko, a bat also means an omen is trailing severely bad news.
It is said that if a weaverbird ever attempts to fly across one’s house, that would bring curses in a home and that means that a family is just about to disintegrate into disharmony.
It is also believed that if infants ever look to the sky, for their eyes to meet a high flying eagle, apparently the kids would have to catch epilepsy. And that for fear of such a scenario, many parents get their kids to wear fetishes around their waists to protect them from such omens.
Furthermore, among other birds that spell curses, are chickens. If a person died in a homestead and the body was lying yonder in the living room, when suddenly a hen came [out of the blue] and jumped / flew over the body/corpse, that would resuscitate all the demons and curses that would have died with the deceased and it would mean a very volatile existence for those who still live, especially the heir. A standing remedy is done to avert the curse and it is to behead the hen right away.
However, not everything believed about animals is evil. For example, finding a pair of snakes would be a great blessing in disguise, according to Nsereko Najib, a traditional healer in Kasawo, Bugerere.
It turns out that Baganda’s belief is that if one stumbled across twin snakes curled around each other, one is advised to cover / throw a piece of cloth over them and afterwards recover their cloth – but now as snake-bite curing medicine.
It is said that if anyone ever got bitten by any venomous snake, the idea is that that piece of cloth would be reclaimed and part of it washed in a small quantity of water that would be given to the casualty to drink and would then get better.
Snakes aside, if a dog right in your face and stretched itself flat, you would yield multiple blessings, according to the Baganda.
A bee sometimes acts as a harbinger. If a bee ever came to your living room and insistently flew around it, it’d actually be announcing a visitor soon to arrive to your abode.
It is also good to find a mouse on your way to work, especially if it makes its turns in the direction of your destination; that would mean blessings.
Truth is, no body, for sure, knows if these superstitions avail anything in the practical sense but they exist and they linger. The best anyone can do is having a subjective opinion. Maybe some time in future consensus will be reached at, if necessary.