LooseTalk: Dear grasshoppers …

The President of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Museveni, is a man who is not known to mince his words when it comes to things that he frowns upon. 

The President of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Museveni, is a man who is not known to mince his words when it comes to things that he frowns upon. 

Museveni has been heard frowning upon his country folk who enroll for university education only to pursue such “useless” courses as Literature and Psychology. Many a time, Museveni has wondered what value a person who studies Literature at is bound to add to the national economy. Similarly, he has wondered aloud why it would take a three year education in Psychology for one to be able to “understand how people think.” 

 

But if there is one thing the president loathes with all his heart, it is grasshoppers, popularly known as nsenene in Uganda. The president does not actually loathe the insects themselves, but rather the practice of his countrymen munching at the “green gold” in broad day light, right on the streets, like vultures. 

 

It is not clear though, how many people are with my dear president on this, seeing as grasshoppers are a bona fide delicacy in the country that he presides over. 

 

In Uganda, the story of this “green gold” has been told and told and then retold –actually it’s been over told. Stories of sky-rise commercial structures that have been erected with proceeds from the grasshopper trade, of entire families that have acquired a first-rate university education after setting enough traps for the insects, et al. In the same way that Ugandans are not shy to stand idly by the street and munch away at this culinary delight, many are not afraid to identify themselves with the nsenene business once it’s high season, like now.  

Just early this week, the wife of a prominent Ugandan musician, Bobi Wine penned an emotional missive inspired by nsenene, and posted it on her Facebook page. It read, and I quote: 

“Dear Grasshoppers, I declare my everlasting love for you today. I thank God for your existence all the time. Not because you are delicious, NO! (I don’t eat you), but because you are the reason me and my family eat a delicious meal everyday! If it were not for you, my husband would be someone doing something not so interesting somewhere.

“Thank you for allowing to fall in that drum on those nights he needed to catch you for sale. Hmmm he recorded himself a music album that put him on the scene when you came to his life and I am a beneficiary of your obedience. Friends, celebrate November and the existence of my new found love!”

Need anyone say more?

Crossing over to Rwanda, I have not heard the President, H.E Paul Kagame, or one of his trusted government cadres condemn the grasshopper consumption business.  

Instead, mention of the word grasshoppers draws images of high school holiday makers – the ones who lift our drinks while we party away at Sundowner and K-Club – the ones who think that an ice-cream outing at Nakumatt is the –ish, the SI unit of “cool”.

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