“El Nino Rains”

I always wonder why the so called “el nino” phenomenon has to come in Africa to bother us anyway!  Though it is supposed to be a harvesting period around the equator, in Kigali we are still experiencing so much unprecedented rains. The English would call it ‘raining cats and dogs’, the terminology is quite old and it was derived from the fact that, this interesting phrase, although there’s no definitive origin, there is a likely derivation.

I always wonder why the so called “el nino” phenomenon has to come in Africa to bother us anyway!  Though it is supposed to be a harvesting period around the equator, in Kigali we are still experiencing so much unprecedented rains.

The English would call it ‘raining cats and dogs’, the terminology is quite old and it was derived from the fact that, this interesting phrase, although there’s no definitive origin, there is a likely derivation.  Before we get to that, let’s get some of the fanciful proposed derivations out of the way.

The phrase isn’t related to the well-known antipathy between dogs and cats, which is exemplified in the phrase ‘fight like cat and dog’. Nor is the phrase in any sense literal i.e. it doesn’t record an incident where cats and dogs fell from the sky. Small creatures, of the size of frogs or fish, do occasionally get carried skywards in freak weather or scenarios like the “tsunami”.

The impromptu spontaneous flight must also happen to dogs or cats from time to time, but there’s no record of groups of them being scooped up in that way and causing this phrase to be coined. Not that we need to study English meteorological records for that - it’s plainly improbable.

That said and done, me the villager for that, there is the tendency to get heavy down pours from nowhere.

I suppose it is the side effect of the so called global warming, “Nyagasani forbid”, we could get carried away into extinction.

As I put fingers to the computer, the internet has just taken a nap, reason being, the dark clouds hanging over Rwanda with internet and cutting off wireless transmission (VSAT dishes) and so, if you don’t hear from me anymore, maybe I have been washed away, blame it on the rain.  

Just as I am sitting in one of Kigali’s sky scrapers, I can vividly see the dark rain clouds hovering over some of the thousand hills of Rwanda; these were reminiscent of those good or bad old times when we had to endure the rains without complaining.

Some decade’s ego, we used to go to the hills to graze, those days, the hills were all communal land ‘cause nobody owned them.

In order to find better grazing grounds, the hills were second to none.  Not that they had the best pastures but, they did provide ideal and secure grounds. Compared to other grounds that had plenty of peasants’ food crops, these were basically virgin land, no farms, just the grass and the herd boys with their animals.

I know, my stories will touch some raw nerves here and there, but the truth remains the truth.  

Now a days, when you ask a kid where milk comes from, he or she might tell you that, it comes from the fridge!   Milking cows in the muddy kraal can be more tasking than grazing them in the rain because, you have to take extra care, if a cow is not pleased with your milking tactics, she could lash out a kick that could spill the milk and earn you a through beating or a night of starvation or both.

By the time the milking is done, you are half asleep on your feet and you must retire to the warmth of the house.

Having bathed in the stream during daytime as you were watering the cattle, there is no need for further action; all you have to do is get rid of the nagging mud on your feet.  
This was done by walking and brushing your feet through dew infested grass in the vicinity and off you would go, ready to go to bed!  As for the bed, this was a collection
of dry grass piled together and on top it, (if you are lucky) a cow skin for the bed sheets and blanket.

Mfashumwana@fastmail.fm

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