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THE BIRDS OF KENYA COLONY AND THE
By Sir FREDERICK JACKSON, K.C.M.G., C.B.
Completed and Edited by WILLIAM LUTLEY SCATER, M.A.
These three volumes represent the life's study of a great African
Explorer and Administrator, and the "father" of East African natural
history. The late Sir Frederick J. Jackson spent thirty-four years in East
Africa, and during all these years all his spare time was occupied in the
study of the Wild Life of this region, and particularly in the observation of
the habits of the birds.
Volume I. Struthionidae to Psittacidae, pp. 1-544. Illustrated with 1o plates
in colour and 115 text-figures.
Volume II. Coraciidaee to Sylviidae, pp. 545-1136. Illustrated with 8 plates
in colour and 65 text-figures.
Volume III. Hirundinidae to Emberizidae, pp. 1137-1558. Illustrated with 6
plates in colour, 61 text-figures and i map.
Extra Royal 8v. Pages LXVIII + 1596.
Three volumes. Price 14: io:- net per set.
Postage: Home I/-, Abroad 5/3.
"...To the ornithologist accustomed mainly to the birds of a temperate
climate the extraordinary number and the beauty of the species of this
region will make a tremendous appeal."
"...The illustrations by two well-known bird artists, Mr. G. E. Lodge
and Mr. Gr6nvold, alone are enough to make the book a noteworthy
one." Manchester Guardian.
"...The appearance of the late Sir Frederick Jackson's long awaited
work on the birds of Kenya and Uganda is an important event in the
ornithological history of East Africa."
GURNEY & JACKSON
LONDON: 98 GREAT RUSSELL STREET, W.C.
EDINBURGH: TWEEDDALE COURT.
Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours
CIRCULAR RAIL AND
LAKE STEAMER TOURS
Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika
and the Belgian Congo
Occupying from 6 to 38 days
CAN BE ARRANGED AT
THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
FULL PARTICULARS ON APPLICATION TO ANY STATION
Messrs. THOSE COOK AND SON LTD., NAIROBI AND MOMBASA
The Brightest Spot
THE ORGAN OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
Vol. .-V. SEPTEMBER, 1941.
About Crocodiles ..
Lunyoro Proverbs ...
... ... CAPTAIN C. R. S. PITMAN, D.S.O., M.C.
... ... M. B. DAVIS.
THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
--: o :-
SIR PHILIP MITCHELL, K.C.M.G., M.C.
CAPTAIN C. R. S. PITMAN, D.S.O., M.C.
OWEKITIBWA S. W. KULUBYA, M.B.E.
SIR ALBERT R. COOK, KT., C.M.G. THE RT. REV. BISHOP E. MICHAUD, M.B.E.
E. J. WAYLAND, ESQ., C.B.E. H. B. THOMAS, ESQ., O.B.E.
DR. H. H. HUNTER, C.B.E. E. F. TWINING, ESQ., M.B.E.
H. JOWITT, ESQ. R. A. Trro WINYI II, C.B.E.,
H. R. HONE, ESQ., M.C., K.C. OMUKAMA OF BUNYORO-KITARA.
JOHN SYKES, ESQ. E. B. HADDON, ESQ.
N. V. BRASNETT, ESQ.
Miss E. P. CLARK.
NORMAN GODINHO, ESQ., M.B.E.
E. B. HADDON, ESQ.
G. H. E. HOPKINS, ESQ.
OMw. C. M. S. KISOSONKOLE.
OMw. B. K. MULYANTI.
DR. M. M. PATEL.
S. H. H. WRIGHT, ESQ.
A. V. P. ELLIOTT, ESQ.
S. G. MARSH, ESQ.
R. A. SNOXALL, ESQ.
B. SEBLEY, ESQ.
C. R. HALL, ESQ.
It is always pleasant to be able to report progress, and all the more so, in
these times when so many projects are forced to mark time, and lack of funds
-prevents the carrying out of so many deserving schemes. Members of the Uganda
Society will thus be glad to learn that good book cupboards with glass doors have
now been provided for the Society's books, and that by taking over the other
smaller rooms in the wing of the building belonging to us, we have been able to
increase our accommodation by a separate typist's room and Secretary's office,
and good storage space for a very serviceable but unsightly and ancient chest in
which to deposit a number of our belongings, and on the floor of this room to
stand the gaunt but capacious cupboard in which reside unbound copies of the
There is no doubt that at present the premises in which we reside are quite
appropriate for our needs and unfortunately more than adequate to contain all
those who appear for a General Meeting. The House Committee have in mind
several further improvements and it is hoped that members visiting Kampala may
find the Society's rooms amenable enough to encourage a visit or two.
The present number of the Journal is largely taken up with the engrossing and
authoritative Presidential address, "About Crocodiles", which it was felt could not
be published other than in one number without detracting from its value and even
more from its interest. Those members who were present when the address was
delivered will remember the vast amount of information which Captain Pitman was
able to compress into the time available and will assuredly welcome the chance to
digest it at their leisure, even as the crocodile, whilst those who could not hear the
address itself will be all the more grateful that through the medium of the organ of
the Uganda Society such an invaluable store of knowledge can be preserved.
We are very grateful to have received Miss Davis' most informative and full
article on Lunyoro Proverbs which will also be found in this number of the Journal
and which is in some respects a supplement to her Lunyoro Dictionary. Members
of the Uganda Society who have their past copies of the Journal handy should refer
to Vol. III. p. 247 where they will find an article by C. S. Nason on Luganda
Proverbs and would do well to read Miss Davis' article in conjunction with this
earlier one. There will be found some most interesting similarities as well as dis-
similarities, and readers will be interested to find out in a number of cases which
language has succeeded in hitting the nail the more accurately on the head.
The second work for the publication of which the Uganda Society is to be
responsible has not appeared on the market yet but the publishing of such a work
takes more time than most people imagine and preparations are well in hand though
no date for its appearance can be promised.
It is sad though interesting to hear that like so much of value the stocks of
"A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda" held in London have been wiped out in the
air raids, although we can reassure members that losses can be made good from
the stocks which we hold. So near has the conflagration come to us, and we
sincerely hope that this may be the full extent to which our belongings will suffer.
Being the Presidential Address for the year 1940 delivered to the Uganda
Society on Wednesday, November 20th at the Kampala Club.
by CAPTAIN C. R. S. PITMAN, D.S.O., M.C., Game Warden of Uganda.
It seems strange that the loathly crocodile can provide subject matter of
sufficient interest to provide the where-withal for one of our periodical talks. It
might even be suggested that a more inspiring subject could have been appropriately
selected for a Presidential address.
This talk does not consist of a series of terrifying and horrible crocodilian
anecdotes recorded anyhow, but is an endeavour to give a detailed and faithful
description of the mode of life and habits of this curious creature, supported by
first hand observations and experiences.
I say "curious" with intent, for what can be more curious than an amphibious
creature which can, if necessary, seize its prey beneath water without drowning and
which, although sometimes attaining a bulk weighing tons, has to start life as an
egg about the size of a turkey's. Also, the parent has to leave the water and take
to the land in order to deposit those eggs.
I have with me tonight various relevant exhibits and photographs which can
be inspected at the conclusion of this talk.
I have been intimately acquainted with first the Indian, and subsequently the
African, crocodile for the past thirty years during which period it has been possible
to accumulate a mass of authentic data in addition to many reliable stories often
of an incredible and amazing nature.
Well, I have already mentioned that the crocodile begins life as an egg, and it
is at the egg stage of its life that this talk properly commences.
It is impossible to dissociate the subject of the egg from breeding habits and
breeding grounds, so these will be taken together.
The evidence of many years indicates that it is the males which come into
season and which attract the females to the breeding grounds.
In the various crocodile-frequented waters of Uganda there is a very definite
breeding season which may vary according to locality, for instance on Lake Victo-
ria, it is August/September to November, while at the Murchison Falls it appears
to be from February/March till May. On Lake Victoria the main crocodile breed-
ing season coincides with the short rains and the periods just before and just after
them: at the Murchison Falls it is mainly before the commencement of the long
rains. It is necessary to qualify these remarks by the expression "main" as it is
possible to find an occasional crocodile breeding in the Lake Victoria region
during almost any month of the year other than those specified, particularly from
March to July.
The breeding grounds are most carefully selected, and with rare exceptions
which will be mentioned in due course, are usually sandy and blistering hot. with
the nest sites fully exposed to the sun, though well-protected from the.prevalent
bad weather and storms. But this is not all for the breeding females require
adequate shade for themselves during the long period of incubation, and a breeding
ground, preferably, though not always, is well fringed with bushes which afford the
crocodile a covered approach from the water to its nest, and which also acts as a
very present help at times of alarm. It is a point on which I speak most feelingly,
for I have lost dozens and dozens of excellent opportunities of destroying breeding
females which have convulsively floundered into the welcome sanctuary of a dense,
broad belt of bushes fringing the water without offering the chance of a shot. More-
over, many breeding crocodiles will lie a greater part of the day right inside this
cover where they are safe from the bullet of the hunter. Sometimes they fall asleep
with heads just outside the bushes and pointing towards their nest, but that's
another story. In addition to the hazards presented the hunter by the bush fringe,
a crocodile breeding ground is also usually protected by a broad reed belt in the
water through which the crocodile can approach the land more or less unseen. Some
breeding grounds are still further screened by thickets of ambatch trees growing
in the shallows, through which the breeding crocodiles can silently approach. Prac-
tically invisible themselves, their dark, knobly heads closely resembling the gnarl-
ed, semi-submerged tree roots, they rarely fail to detect any strange object, i.e. the
waiting hunter, which happens to be in or near their line of approach.
The most favourable type of breeding ground, provided it is well-sheltered
from storms, is a narrow sand spit densely fringed with cover. In such a locality
the conditions are ideal, and where a spit is not too wide enable the crocodiles to
make a quick get-away in either direction as the necessity arises. So much for
orthodox breeding grounds, and let us consider for a moment a few of the more
I have never been able to explain why in certain localities in which crocodiles
as far as I am aware have never been harassed, the breeding grounds have been
located on the top of lofty cliffs twenty to thirty feet high, or on rocky islets where
suitable soil is conspicuous chiefly by its absence and where excavations large
enough to contain a full 'sitting' of eggs are practically impossible. Still more
strange is it to find one of these extraordinary breeding sites at no great distance
from a well-frequented, orthodox breeding colony.
In certain cases it is possible to suggest why there is resort to such unfavour-
able localities. And at one of them which I know near Entebbe it is evident that
an extensive cleared region along the mainland coast was not so long ago a well-
favoured breeding ground. It is now denied the crocodiles, which, refusing to be
driven from a locality in which they had been accustomed to nest and where
probably they had been born, turned to a rocky island and an islet cliff top nearby.
I first visited these two localities in 1925 in the course of a routine investigation
of possible breeding grounds; though not for a moment did I expect to find anything
on the rocky island. In spite of systematic shooting during most of the intervening
years, crocodiles have bred fairly regularly up till the present year, though for a few
years there were no nests. The islet cliff periodically has one nest, this year the
eggs must have hatched about July. On the first occasion this place was visited
the trip was made by a canoe which I moored below the cliffs and fortunately
between it and a large rock which afforded shelter. As I was rambling through the
waist-high cover on top I heard the noise of heavy creatures moving laboriously
through the scrub followed by a couple of reports as if big guns had been fired.
Later, when I returned to the canoe, 1 found the paddlers shivering with fear, and
they told me, accompanied by much pantomine, what had happened. Two breed-
ing crocodiles on top of the islet, finding their normal line of escape cut off by my
approach had got into a panic and taken the high dive off the cliff!
In so doing each had sailed full length over the canoe and its occupants.
Luckily, the cliff was about 18 feet high which had enabled the monsters to clear the
craft. They landed with their bellies flat on the water with a smack which, in calm
weather, could have been heard for the best part of a mile.
Now, it may well be asked why should crocodiles driven away from a favour-
able and well favoured breeding site, prefer to resort to unsuitable localities close
at hand, rather than move right away to another suitable breeding ground.
1 think the answer is to be found in the fact that it is the male crocodiles which
come into season, and which at such a time frequent the breeding grounds where
they were born. As they take no part in the preparation of the nesting cavity their
association with a breeding site from the aspect of terrain appears to be purely
mechanical. Therefore, if the normal breeding haunt is denied the females, the
males still frequent the locality to mate and to fertilise the eggs carried in the ovaries,
irrespective of where the females go to deposit those eggs.
It might be suggested that possibly it is the male crocodile which selects a
breeding ground and then attracts the females to it. I think not, if such were the
case it would be most unlikely that the male deprived of a suitable site would
deliberately resort to thoroughly unfavourable conditions. The intimate association
of all animals, furred, feather or scaled, with the places in which they were born
is well-known, and it seems to me that the primary connection between the breeding
male and a breeding ground is the fact of birth, and that when a male crocodile is
ready to take part in the perpetuation of its own species, it wends its way to the
place where it was born.
I have previously mentioned that it is the male crocodile which comes into
season, thereby attracting the females to the breeding grounds. Now what grounds
have I for making such a claim. Have I any supporting evidence. Why should not
the females, when old enough to breed, equally return automatically to the localities
in which they themselves were born.
I think the answer will be found in the results of the investigations carried out
during the last fifteen years in regard to the effect produced by the annual systema-
tic killing of the females on the various breeding grounds.
In the earlier years it was not possible to be very systematic or extensive, and
often a few years would elapse when anti-crocodile operations could not be carried
out. Latterly, the campaign has been more methodical and comprehensive, and for
the last six years the breeding grounds have been annually harried. Before proceed-
ing further I would lile to mention and emphasise that in these anti-crocodile
operations it is only the certainties which are claimed as kills, preferably those
which can be handled and measured.
If in one year 50 per cent. of the crocodiles are killed off on a breeding ground,
one would expect the next year to find the best part of a 50 per cent. decrease in
the numbers of breeding females frequenting that locality. But this is not the case,
and experience has shown that over a period of several years heavy toll can be taken
from the same breeding ground without effecting a great decrease. It is only after
operations conducted over a long period of years that an appreciable decrease will
This is extremely interesting, as it seems to me to indicate one of two things,
either the female crocodile does not breed each year, which would be remarkable,
or else many new crocodiles appear each year on such a breeding ground.
In the latter case it might reasonably be claimed that annually a fresh batch of
crocodiles, ready to breed for the first time, return to the breeding grounds where
they first saw the light of day. But in actual fact this theory collapses, for the
replenishments under discussion are not adolescent females, but mature breeding
At one time, in order to account for this conspicuous replacement of
casualties, I thought that the crocodile with its various curious attributes might be
still more curious in that it bred only once in two or three.years-a ridiculous idea
contrary to what is well-known concerning the reproduction of species.
Therefore it would appear that it is to the males one must turn to find a solu-
tion of the problem. At breeding time the male exudes a musky-odoured glandular
secretion which no doubt is an attraction to the females. The taint of this secretion
is doubtless carried far and wide on the water currents, and may even be wind-
borne, and leads the females ready for the fertilisation of their ovary contents to the
I cannot state whether or no there is only one breeding male in attendance at a
breeding ground, though it is unquestionable that a breeding ground, even of con-
siderable extent will be dominated by one large male. This master male is jealous
of intrusion and fights savagely to drive away other males, but whether he manages
to keep his own domain sacrosanct 1 cannot say. What I do know is that many a
weaker male at the breeding season perishes for his presumption and trespass.
This year I came across several carcases on the breeding grounds at the com-
mencement of the nesting season. These crocodiles had all been killed fighting and
were terribly mangled, and were presumed to be males. During the breeding season
crocodiles can be particularly quarrelsome, and the females, as well as the males,
often fight furiously and perish.
One big male, which I eventually killed during this year's operations, dominat-
ed a long stretch of disconnected breeding localities covering a frontage of more
than a mile.
At sand spit breeding grounds I have noticed that there is usually a dominant
male either side of the spit. As long as they keep to their own territorial waters all
is well, but woebetide if one or other trespasses.
Although there are flaws in the argument I do feel that the case in support of
the contention that it is the males which attract the females to the breeding grounds
is a strong one.
I have already mentioned that on Lake Victoria the breeding season is coin-
cident mainly with the period of the short rains. Accordingly, one might assume
that delay or failure of the short rains would affect the breeding season. Such is not
the case, and the investigations of many years indicate that no matter what the
vagaries of the climate the crocodiles breed at the same time each year. Breeding
therefore seems to be actuated by a rhythmic impulse which makes itself apparent
regularly each twelve months. I can quote a parallel case in a local bird, the hammer-
headed stork, which although about the size of an ordinary fowl builds for its nest,
in a tree, a colossal structure on which a full grown man can stand with ease and in
safety. The breeding of birds generally, whether resident in temperate or tropical
climes, is influenced directly by climate. An early spring means early breeding, and
late rains usually result in late nesting-and so forth. But the hammer-headed
stork, no matter the weather, be it excessively dry, normal or unusually wet, after
repairing its magnificent house lays its first egg year by year on almost the same
day in February. I am of course referring to one particular nest which I have had
under observation for several years.
Returning to our crocodiles I will now mention a few facts about the actual
mating, which takes place in the water. This year I had the unique privilege, for
unique surely it must be, to witness this performance. It was at noon on a hot and
sunny day, I was stalking a breeding female which had slipped into the water, and
not unduly alarmed almost at once turned and made for the shore again. Its head
only was visible.
Just as a favourable opportunity for a shot presented itself my attention was
diverted by strange sounds near at hand, a cross between guttural croaks and a
curious crooning. Then straight in front of me swam two crocodiles, mainly their
heads visible, moving in a circle and both of them uttering these strange cries. In-
quisitively I watched, what was it all about? Love-making seemed the obvious
answer. Suddenly, one horrid head rose vertically out of the water, the gular pouch
working frantically, as its owner most unmelodiously yodelled its love-song. Almost
simultaneously the other head emerged perpendicularly, also in full throaty song.
The heads steadily approached each other until chins, jaws and throats were practi-
cally touching, and there they were poised for nearly half-a-minute during which
time mating was evidently taking place. The weird croaky crooning continued
throughout. The mating took place in shallow water a few feet deep, and the mons-
ters presumably assumed a semi-vertical position supported by their massive tails
which I imagine were kept flat on the lake bottom. The male, which was subse-
quently shot, measured 13 feet 6 inches, and the female was probably about 11 feet.
The crocodile, like snakes and the elephant, is cryptorchid, that is its
reproductive organs are concealed and not visible externally.
I do not wish to weary you with too much reference to breeding grounds, but,
as they really play the most important part in the life story of the crocodile, it is
impossible to dismiss them lightly.
Next comes an account of the eggs, their deposition and incubation.
First and foremost the crocodile is not a good mother, and as I have previously
suggested her reflexes where breeding is concerned appear to be strictly automatic.
The female crocodile carries large quantities of eggs in her ovaries, and once
these have been fertilised by the male, she makes her way on shore to discover a
suitable place where she can deposit them. Having found a place to her liking she
digs into the soft soil with her forefeet, using one foot at a time, until she has made
an excavation about 2 feet long, one foot to eighteen inches in width, and two feet
in depth. Then she straddles the excavation and starts laying her eggs. I cannot say
whether the whole sitting is laid at one time, though I consider this unlikely. What
I do know is that I have frequently come across partially-filled nests at which their
owners were either disturbed when laying or where full sittings were not deposited
at one time. During the process of laying the parent is so absorbed that she seems
oblivious of what is taking place around her, and at such times is very easy to
approach. I also know that she lays her eggs about ten at a time and then carefully
packs them into the ground before producing another lot. If undisturbed it is possible
that she may go on until her 'sitting' is complete. I have sometimes found newly laid
eggs deposited on the ground at the side of a partially filled hole.
The average crocodile's egg measures, in length, just under to just over three
inches, and in breadth, about 1 4/5th to 1 9/10th inches. It is oval in shape. One
occasionally comes across diminutive eggs no longer than two-and-a-quarter inches,
and 1l inches wide. When freshly laid the eggs are hard, china white in colour, and
translucent, the yellow of the yolk giving the egg a general pinkish-yellow tinge. The
eggs though finely pitted are at first smooth and glossy.
The eggs lying flat on their axes and mainly touching each other are packed in
three or four layers of about twenty each; roughly a layer consists of five rows of
four eggs each. The parent arranges her eggs most methodically and carefully and
it is strange that so massive and unwieldy a creature can successfully manipulate
her tiny, fragile eggs with such skill that not one is damaged during the pack-
ing process. And to appreciate adequately her skill it is necessary to examine a
crocodile's nest, when one will be amazed at the solid manner in which the packing
is carried out, and it is no exaggeration to state that the twelve-inch layer of earth
on top of the eggs is literally rammed down! Of course when the eggs are packed
under the unfavourable conditions of a rocky terrain, as is sometimes the case, the
damage is severe, and often as much as fifty per cent.
The eggs once packed away into the ground are incubated by the warmth of
the surrounding soil. The female plays no part in the incubation, which takes
approximately ninety days, although she guards her nest assiduously to prevent the
eggs being ravaged by the marauding monitor lizards, or enswaswa, which are
common and ever-hungry on the breeding grounds. She has, however, one other
function-a most important one-in connection with her nest, and that is she must
be ready to liberate her callow brood when it is hatching.
It is obvious that the baby crocodiles unaided will be unable to force their way
through the twelve to eighteen inches of rammed soil imprisoning them. But how
after such a lengthy period of 90 days or thereabouts is the female parent to know
the psychological moment to release her offspring. Her final parental action
towards her brood is governed and actuated by one of those remarkable provisions
of nature, which are a never-ending source of amazement. When the baby
crocodiles are ready to hatch they squeak plaintively inside the eggs, and that is
the signal for mamma to scoop the rammed soil off the top layer in order to
enable her offspring to emerge as perfect miniatures of herself into the big, un-
friendly world-and truly unfriendly it can be towards the newly-hatched
youngsters. Even mother is not averse to gobbling up a few of her own young if
she feels so disposed! At one time I was of the opinion that once the baby
crocodiles started hatching, the parent, her job completed, took no more interest.
But latterly I have had direct proof that the parent of a brood which is in the
process of hatching out will not only wait at the water's edge in the vicinity, but
will from time to time visit her nest to see if the hatching is progressing satis-
factorily. The full 'sitting' takes several hours to hatch out.
During the period of incubation the eggs undergo considerable change.
Besides becoming opaque and very dirty and discoloured from contact with the
containing soil, as the embryo forms and increases in size so do the eggs swell.
The hard, outer, calcareous covering, or shell, disintegrates, and the egg generally
becomes tough and leathery, in fact in the last few weeks prior to hatching an egg
if dropped will bounce-so will snakes' eggs and many lizards' eggs.
From this description of the tough integument imprisoning the tiny creature
arises the question of how it finally extricates itself from the egg. Here again the
relationship of reptiles to birds is apparent, for as in the case of birds the tiny
crocodile is equipped with a serviceable egg-tooth on the tip of its nose which
enables it to cut its way effectively out of its prison. Once the egg-tooth has been
used it drops off.
It is not difficult to hatch crocodiles' eggs prematurely. Shock will often
produce this result, although of course the eggs must be nearly ready to hatch. With
a combination of accelerated incubation and shock baby crocodiles can be induced
to hatch before the yolk sac has been absorbed inside the body. I once collected,
for laboratory purposes, several four gallon tins of crocodile eggs on the point of
hatching. The eggs were well-packed in moist soil taken from the nests, and
transported by launch across Lake Victoria for several hours on a broiling hot
day. At half-past three that afternoon the eggs were poured out of the tins on to
the laboratory verandah. As the contents of each tin rolled out on to the cement
floor baby crocodiles began to poke their little heads out of the eggs and soon the
verandah was a seething mass of the tiny creatures, many of which were dragging
their unabsorbed yolk sacs after them!
It is noteworthy that there is never a squeak from an egg which is hatched
out prematurely, and there is never a sound from a premature juvenile with a
dragging yolk sac. But perfectly formed youngsters, even though hatched pre-
maturely, start chirruping immediately after they hatch.
One may well enquire how it is that the parent is able to hear the faint
subterranean squeaks emanating from the buried eggs. It would be well-nigh
impossible if the female did not take the precaution of lying with her head
immediately above the eggs. The laying crocodile does not just walk ashore,
scoop out a hole and then commence depositing her eggs. It is not so simple as
that. Although the selected site has almost certainly been used by her or others
of her kind from time immemorial she fusses round turning over a little soil here
and a little soil there and thoroughly-and may I say typically woman-like-
messing up the place before finally making up her mind. One point which is most
noticeable is the fact that the crocodile after emerging from the water moves on to
the selected site and starts digging in the direction in which she is heading. She
may diverge laterally, but she never turns about. And, when guarding her eggs
and actually lying over them she retains the position when she started digging, in
consequence of which the eggs will be found at the end of her "form" farthest
away from the water. There are, of course, exceptions, but for them there is
usually a very good reason. In the soft soil, especially after the initial disturbance,
the impress of the crocodile's heavy body, even to the pattern of the belly scales,
is clearly visible. It is easy to see where the head lies and this is the spot to dig
for the eggs. I have often wondered why it is that the crocodile selects this
position, i.e. head pointing away from the water, to guard her eggs, for it means
that when alarmed, before she can get away, she has to turn right round, a move-
ment which she accomplishes with incredible agility and swiftness.
It is probable that this position is adopted to give the guardian the widest
possible arc of vision, for enemies are more likely to approach from the land side
than from the water front. Moreover vision is almost entirely restricted in this
latter direction by the fringe of dense cover. The brooding parent does not lie
over her eggs throughout the incubation period, but she does get over them at least
once a day, and it is possible that, as incubation advances, she pays closer
attention to the precise position of her eggs. To anyone acquainted with crocodiles
in their natural haunts, and who is familiar with the way in which these saurians
will bask for hours on end fully exposed to the scorching rays of the tropical sun,
it will no doubt be surprising to learn that the brooding female is very susceptible
to sunstroke, or at least is seriously affected by undue exposure to the sun. Every
occupied crocodile's nest has adequate shady cover in its vicinity which is freely
frequented by the guardian parent. There are cases on record in which uninjured,
trapped crocodiles have died in a few hours, through exposure to a fierce sun.
But still more amazing is the effect of prolonged exposure to the sun in the
case of the brooding females as the incubation period advances. I have no doubt
that the effects of the sun are influenced and augmented by the fact that by the
latter part of her enforced guardianship a female may be in a state of semi-
starvation. What, however, is incontrovertible is the fact that towards the end
of the breeding season when their long vigil is nearing its end, the guardian females
are frequently found lying, fully exposed, on their nests in a state of complete
coma. At such times I have fired as many as a dozen shots within a few feet of
one of these "Sleeping Beauties" without evoking the slightest response, and have
seen the stupefied creatures stoned and hit repeatedly. Capt. Salmon once took
an amazing cin6 picture of one of these comatose monsters, which was being
clubbed by a couple of Africans using small tree trunks! After being repeatedly
hit, it suddenly came to life, lashed out furiously with its tail, snapped to both
sides with its wicked jaws and then hurled itself into the water.
Before leaving the subject of the eggs there is still a lot to tell. The size of
the set or "sitting" is interesting. Having examined a total of about 1,500 nests
it seems that about sixty eggs constitutes the average set of an adult crocodile. One
will find plenty of nests containing 60 to 70 eggs, and quite a number with 70
eggs or more. Sets of more than 80 are unusual, but by no means rare, the
biggest total I have found in a nest is 85.
The adolescent females rarely lay more than 40 eggs, sometimes it is less.
The parents of small "sittings" are almost invariably young crocodiles. There is
an exception, it is in the case of nests dug in unsuitable and rocky soils. Owing
to the fact that a sufficiently large hole cannot be scooped out the set has perforce
to be restricted in size, and under such adverse conditions of terrain I have found
the eggs packed in the most extraordinary manner, a few here and a few there,
straggling over a large area and sometimes in only one layer. It is in these rocky
sites that damaged eggs are frequent, and occasionally preponderate.
This brings me to the subject of bad eggs and egg contents. A bad
crocodile's egg literally beggars description, it has to be smelt to be believed! Its
foul aroma will taint an area acres in extent.
The contents of a crocodile's egg, even when new laid, have a repugnant, oily,
fishy smell. As incubation advances the smell becomes worse. Blowing a
crocodile's egg is a disgusting performance. It is bad enough when fresh, but it
is quite indescribable when slightly incubated. The albumen is of a horrid
glutinuous consistency which makes it exceedingly difficult to dislodge. I have
known Europeans who have had the temerity to eat crocodile's eggs. There is
no accounting for taste!
I have previously mentioned that a prematurely hatched crocodile will some-
times be dragging along its unabsorbed yolk sac. This yolk sac, which normally
is inside the body, helps to sustain the baby crocodile during the first few months
of its existence. Traces of it have still been found in juveniles six months old.
The newly hatched crocodile is a sturdy, active baby, a perfect replica of its
hideous parent. It varies from eleven to thirteen inches in length, the tail usually
being 11 to 1Q inches longer than the body. Of course this elongated midget lies
inside the egg in a curled up position.
Although the adult crocodiles are to a great extent mute, the tiny juveniles
continue to be most chatty during the first and second years of their existence.
This observation is made from captive specimens.
Now the first instinct of the newly hatched crocodile is to make for the
nearest water with unerring accuracy. This is no mean feat when nests are locat-
ed in a sandy clearing hidden in forest nearly a hundred yards distant from the
water. But the instinct for self preservation is stronger than the instinct indicating
that the water is the normal element for the little creature's future life. So, if
the shore is open the baby crocodiles speedily seek the sanctuary of suitable cover
which may be in the vicinity, or if there is cover not actually in the water though
close to its edge, such as a thicket of lofty grasses the baby crocodiles take refuge
in it until they can discover a more favourable locality in keeping with their
When disturbed they can be heard scurrying through the cover in all direc-
tions, all the while uttering their plaintive, piping cry. As for the first few months,
or longer, of their life they are highly gregarious this querulous, high-pitched
note seems to be a rallying call. When alarmed the tiny creatures quickly disperse
for safety, but almost immediately one hears the call note, and if the dispersal is
due to one's own human intrusion and one remains quietly in hiding they will be
seen congregating again.
The favourite type of cover is a fringe of' overhanging bushes with the
branch tips touching the water. This provides a sheltered, concealed playground
for the babies, which spend most of their lives above the water hidden on
branches up which they easily climb. Except at the end of the breeding season
when the broods are hatching and for some weeks subsequently I have not come
across broods keeping together in the wild state nor have I found small solitary
youngsters which one might reasonably expect. I have reason to believe that the
very small juveniles as soon as possible make their way into the friendly sanctuary
of dense swamps and papyrus beds and there they remain in relative safety until
big enough to look after themselves in the open waters.
Before changing to the subject of the crocodile's characteristics there is still
a good deal to be said about nests and breeding grounds. The breeding grounds
with which I am familiar may hold a solitary nest only or any number up to
sixty. A small area containing a few dozen nests may be just heaped with
brooding crocodiles. In some cases many nests are concentrated in a restricted
area, in others a breeding ground may be strung out in a series of disconnected
localities along more than a mile of shore. One of the latter is well worth
describing. It is situated on part of an uninhabited attenuated islet. Starting
from the north (with the lake shore on the cast and great swamps on the west)
there is a small group of nests in a sandy clearing high above the water and
separated from it by a fringe of forest. Two hundred yards further on there are
two or three nests in a clearing tucked away in the heart of the forest. How does
the breeding parent first find such a place, situated as it is nearly a hundred yards
from the water? Moving another two hundred yards through the forest and
slightly westerly brings one to a broad sand field a quarter-of-a-mile long in which
a few crocodiles from the west breed. These nests are so exposed and so far
away from the western swamps that their owners are virtually trapped and fall an
easy prey to the crocodile hunter. After another hundred yards of forest one
comes across half-a-dozen nests located singly in small clearings (some at least
sixty yards from the water) well-concealed in a dense thicket of Alchornea
cordata. Traversing fifty yards of open, tropical forest the next breeding site is a
clearing, flanked on the east by a dense thicket, tenanted by eight females. An-
other fifty yards of open forest close to the eastern shore leads to a sandy ridge,
which runs from east to west (swamp). This is a favourite spot, and together
with a sand bed covering an elevated rocky ridge fifty yards on, usually holds a
dozen or more nests. The next hundred yards traverses more forest, with gigantic
trees, and Alchornea thickets; in it are probably half-a-dozen nests. Turning again
on to the eastern shore, one hundred and fifty yards of open sand bank, with a few
ambatch trees fringing the water, provide nesting space for several dozen of the
hideous monsters. This is the focus of this long breeding ground, and when
alarmed the crocodiles are so numerous that the whole bank seems to heave into
After two hundred yards of extremely dense Alchornea thicket and papyrus
swamp with an occasional nest near the water's edge another long stretch of sandy
shore is reached, protected by a broad belt of ambatch in which breed several
species of waterfowl in great numbers. Eight or more nests are usually in this
locality. As one moves southerly so does the peninsula narrow. Here it is only
a few paces wide, with open water on the east and impenetrable papyrus to the
west. The last few hundred yards of the peninsula consists of a rocky elevation
which sometimes holds a couple of nests, an Alchornea thicket and a sand spit
with at least half-a-dozen nests. It is terminated by a large, soil-covered rock, on
its south side rising abruptly twelve feet above the lake. On it there are occasionally
a couple of nests. A hundred yards to the south a small islet of ironstone surfac-
ed with gravel, in spite of its general unsuitability, usually contains three or four
This description relates to the palmy days of many years ago. Nowadays,
after years of systematic, intensive harrying this breeding ground is not nearly so
well patronised. But it affords a good picture of the varying conditions associated
with the usual types of breeding ground.
I have not yet discovered whether or no the parent remains by its nest during
the hours of darkness. Possibly not, as it is during this period that a crocodile
Although the subject of anti-crocodile operations during the breeding season
properly comes later, this detailed account of one of the more important breeding
grounds, which is in the neighbourhood of Entebbe, prompts me to make a few
remarks concerning one of the difficulties with which such operations have to
This mile or more of shore-line is roughly concave, which shape is of great
assistance to the guardian parents ever on the alert to detect anything out of the
Now the unalarmed crocodile glides into the water with scarcely a sound, but
when disturbed and frightened it is a very different matter. Most of the senses of
the crocodile are particularly acute, not the least being that of hearing.
I have just said that the unalarmed crocodile enters the water with scarcely
a sound, and on land its movements are equally noiseless. Moreover, the silent
approach when returning to a nest from the water is positively uncanny. I have
often waited in concealment for a female to return to her nest. Owing to the
nature of the cover in the water and at its edge, it is frequently impossible to see
the crocodile until it is actually landing. But shallow water, massive submerged
roots and rocks have suggested that one would get early intimation of the parent's
return. This is not the case and invariably, in such circumstances, the first
indication of the return of mother has been her sudden and noiseless appearance
half-way out of the water.
It should be easy to realise the pandemonium which arises when a thickly
packed mob of breeding crocodiles takes fright. But, unless the cause of the
alarm is sudden, galvanising the whole lot into instant activity, it is usual for one
creature to start the rot by lumbering to the water and entering with a terrific
splash. Its clumsy, resounding efforts quickly put all its companions in motion.
This can be styled local panic, and if this was the extent of the harm done it
would not be so bad.
Unfortunately, the ponderous tread of the frightened beasts can be heard a
long way off, possibly several hundred yards, by others of their kind lying with
heads pressed flat on the ground. So the rot once started spreads rapidly. But
this is not all for wherever there is the slightest bank above the water, and this is
the rule and not the exception, the fleeing crocodile hits the water with a smack
which can be heard for great distances. The crack of the hunter's rifle is often
muffled by the surrounding cover, but the belly-flop of the bulky crocodile re-
sounds far and wide. Although this sharp report serves the purpose of an efficient
alarm signal I doubt if it is deliberately intended as such. Though admittedly
acting as a warning it cannot be classed with the thumping of the rabbit's hind
feet or the loud slap of the beaver's flat tail on the water, both of which are
Another point of particular interest concerns the behaviour of the breeding
crocodile on land in the face of intrusion. If a human being happens to be
between the crocodile and its avenue of escape to the water, the crocodile,
especially when partially concealed by cover, makes no attempt to get away. Some-
times it may be genuinely asleep, more often it is wide awake but hopes by
remaining immobile to be overlooked. And it is strange how often the foxing
crocodile can be overlooked. During this year's operations on the breeding
grounds I can recollect as many as half-a-dozen instances when for a while 1
completely missed the quarry for which I was searching.
One can with the greatest ease overlook a horrid head sticking out of the
bushes, and I find it essential to have the assistance of a pair of sharp African
eyes in addition to my own. On one occasion this year I had followed and
despatched a female as she fled down an overgrown tunnel towards the water.
Suddenly I became uncomfortably aware of the fixed, baleful stare of another
crocodile whose head was almost touching my feet. Its companion's carcase
blocked its line of escape to the water, so it began to move inland towards me
just as I fired. Another day I had enlarged into an open path a small tunnel
leading from a well-patronised breeding ground through a dense belt of reeds and
other cover to the water. Then I sat in hiding at the water's edge awaiting the
return of two parents which I knew used this track. My gunbearer was conceal-
ed in the thicket a little way behind me. It was a breeding ground on a narrow,
bush-fringed sandy spit, and the brooding crocodiles approached it from either
side. After 1 had waited three-quarters of an hour I heard suspicious sounds
behind me. A few moments later there were several loud thumps. I turned round
and peered up the track and saw a cloud of dust settling. A laying crocodile
nest-digging thought I. And then to my amazement I saw, a large crocodile
coming down the path towards me. I jumped to my feet and leapt aside, I don't
know which of the two was most scared, myself or the crocodile. The crocodile
which was moving with body off the ground at once collapsed on to its belly and
turned into the cover, making no attempt to rush into the water only a few paces
distant. I could not risk a snap shot as my follower was also in the cover. I
could see the beast's tail sticking out on to the path, so to the tail I went only to
find that the creature was lying in a bow and that the head was alongside the tail.
Once again I made a prodigious sideways leaps, and as the crocodile burst out
towards the water, its career came to a sudden end.
On another occasion I passed within a few feet of an 11 feet crocodile
lying fully exposed though sheltered from the sun by lofty bushes. It was
at the extremity of a precipitous and hilly islet, and the only possible breeding
site was on an extensive, lofty rock covered with a thick deposit of black soil.
As a crocodile would have to ascend at least thirty feet above the water to
get to it, I hardly anticipated finding a nest and so did not approach as carefully
as usual. I emerged on to the open piece of ground from a tangled thicket and
looked to my left, to my front, and then to my right. Just ahead of me to my
right was an undoubted crocodile's nest the impress of the huge body showing
clearly in the moist, black soil. The owner had evidently only recently left the
nest which puzzled me no end, as I had not heard a sound of a crocodile moving
away. Never having been on this island before there was no reason why the
crocodile should have moved away. Then I looked immediately to my right, and
there alongside me-I could have touched her with my rifle-was mother! An-
other time a few years ago I had taken three newly-joined cadets for a trip on
Lake Victoria during the crocodile breeding season. On one small, elevated,
rocky islet there always used to be several nests concealed in the coarse, tufted
grass, which grew profusely knee-, or waist-high. We advanced in line, a few paces
distant from each other, across the open top, and I am perfectly sure that not
one of the newcomers took my warning seriously to move with the utmost caution
as they might easily step on a crocodile. In consequence I was highly entertain-
ed when the lad next to me suddenly halted with one foot in mid-air and his eyes
well-nigh popping out of his head. Then his rifle slowly turned till the barrel
pointed vertically downwards at his side. And bang; there was a big crocodile
with a bullet through its brain lying alongside him. He had all but put his foot
right on its ugly head!
These are a few of many similar instances in support of the remarks concern-
ing the behaviour of the breeding crocodiles when in concealment or when their
means of escape to the water is cut off. I have frequently seen scared crocodiles
rush into a dense thicket and then lie motionless hoping that they won't be spotted.
At one small breeding ground-there were five occupied nests-not visited
before this year, I came across the only evidence of crocodile worship or vener-
ation-apart from "Lutembe"-that I have encountered in Uganda. I was lucky
in killing four out of the five parents, and I was astonished to find alongside one
of them two miniature, bee-hive shaped grass huts filled with offerings wrapped
in banana fibre. It was a fishing locality and I imagine the gifts were intedtled to
placate the crocodiles in order to safeguard the fishermen and their property.
The breeding grounds usually harbour hordes of the voracious and persistent
tsetse-fly--Glossina palpalis. This species which is always associated with water
feeds freely on reptilian blood, and though at first it seems strange that the
proboscis of a mere fly should be capable of penetrating the tough hide of a
crocodile, there are soft places on the head and inside the mouth where the fly can
get an easy meal. So much for breeding grounds which have taken up a great
deal of our time.
Next comes a description of the crocodile's attributes, coupled with remarks
on the rate of growth. I have previously mentioned that the newly-hatched
crocodiles are perfect replicas in miniature of their hideous parents. They are
perfect even to the extent of being well-equipped with minute teeth. It is lucky
that these tiny teeth are incapable of doing damage for the little creatures bite
viciously as soon as they hatch, and are most pugnacious.
The subject of the crocodile's teeth prompts a few remarks concerning these
creatures' method of seizing and swallowing their prey. The teeth are solely for
seizing and tearing, and are not used in any way to masticate. Now you are all
probably familiar with the shape of a crocodile's head and jaws. They are
elongate and fairly narrow, becoming considerably narrower near the lips. It is
obvious then that if a crocodile seized its prey with the front portion of its mouth
it could only make use of a very few of its teeth. So it seizes sideways using
the whole of the teeth along one side of its jaws. You have only to watch
"Lutembe" taking pieces of dried fish to see how it is done. But there are other
factors which influence or necessitate resort to a sideways motion. It is quite im-
possible to describe the sledge-hammer force of a sideway's blow from a croco-
dile's head, and so this creature can as it seizes a victim administer a terrific
battering. In the case of a distended hippo carcase floating in the water, there is
only one possible method of getting a bite into it, and that's by a terrific sideways
blow. If lucky the crocodile may at long last penetrate the tough hide with just
one tooth, and a tear is started. If it persists, as it certainly will, to the extent
of trying again and again, the initial tear soon becomes a rip, and it's not long
before the crocodile and its numerous companions are tearing off great strips of
hide and lumps of meat.
A few years ago just before the inauguration of Imperial Airways flying boat
service, a couple of expensive rubber buoys costing more than 60 each were
moored at Port Bell. It did not take long for a hungry crocodile to mistake
them for hippo carcases, and with a little persistence it managed to destroy both
of them. I subsequently examined both buoys, and it was easy to see what had
happened. I don't blame the crocodile for its mistake, for the buoys in colour,
texture, touch and resilience bore a remarkable similarity to a floating, hippo
carcase. Claw marks all over the rubber indicated how the crocodile had tried
unsuccessfully to get a purchase on its prey with its feet. For local conditions the
buoys had been inflated too much, and so could not for long withstand the terrific
sideways blows of the crocodile's head trying to get its teeth into the tough skin.
Eventually the buoys burst as a result of the blows combined with the excessive
internal pressure. I can't help thinking that it must have been a very surprised
crocodile as each one burst! Although the crocodile has acute sight its mistake
in this instance is pardonable, but equally has it an extremely keen sense of smell,
which one might reasonably expect would obviate the possibility of such a lapse.
So how does one account for it. My own idea is that the crocodile has no sense
of taste and is in consequence quite ready to devour any unfamiliar object re-
sembling food or associated with possible food. It swallows its food in great
lumps so there is little opportunity of appreciating the taste. Included amongst
the peculiar objects I have known a crocodile to eat are large cork floats, more
than a cubic foot in size, and a rubber boat.
Seizing teeth are apt to sustain a good deal of damage, and nature makes
allowance for this by providing frequent renewals. If a crocodile's jaw is examin-
ed, a new tooth in varying stages of development will be found beneath each tooth
in use. These renewals as they develop gradually push out the old teeth. Two
or three replacements are sometimes found below one tooth. Renewals are more
frequent in the younger crocodiles. In the old veterans the teeth become extremely
large and the points get more and more rounded.
Even when seizing the teeth are capable of inflicting the most terrible wounds
aided as they are by the terrific crushing force of the massive jaws. The tongue
is fitted along the base of the mouth so that it does not get bitten when the
crocodile is snapping at its victim.
This is I think a suitable moment to expose the oft quoted fallacy that the
crocodile prefers its meat high, and that it carries off its victims to some lair in
which they can be left until they have reached the right stage of ripeness. Now
where are these lairs in which the luckless victims are concealed? They are to
be found amongst the submerged roots of trees, in holes in banks which are enter-
ed below water, and underneath floating papyrus and sudd. I don't think there
will be much difficulty in explaining the reason for the choice of this type of hiding
place, for in reality they are all similar. It is obvious that if the crocodile left its
victim on land it would soon be found by predatory beasts and scavenging fowl.
So perforce it must be taken into the water, and as post-mortem gases soon enable
a corpse or carcase to float, it has to be tucked away or fixed in such a manner
that it will not float to the surface. But why the necessity for all this, why has
the victim to be hidden for a while, why is it not consumed at once? The
answer again is straightforward and simple. It is much easier for a crocodile to
dismember a carcase when it is decomposing and easily pulled apart than when it
is fresh. It is not a matter of preferring its food high, but of feeding without
undue trouble. A big crocodile with one snap can easily shear through a human
arm or leg. Some very large males have a width of lower jaw at the base of
nearly two feet. Such a monster can gulp down at one swallow enormous joints.
In India I once shot a "mugger", as the snub-nosed crocodile is called in those
parts, which had inside it a half grown wild pig in six portions. The pig had
evidently been killed a few hours before. It had been pulled to pieces and
swallowed, there were the head, shoulders, legs and trunk, all in perfect condition!
Closely associated with the actual way of using the teeth for seizing is the
manner in which victims are caught. I might conveniently mention that my
investigations indicate that the majority of man-eating crocodiles on Lake Victoria
are males. Animals are seized by the nose or a leg when coming to drink and are
slowly but surely pulled into the water and drowned. Human beings are taken
when bathing, washing clothes or filling water pots. People have been taken from
canoes when foolishly trailing their hands in the water at dusk or after dark.
The tragedy is instantaneous. One moment all is peaceful, then without
warning the hand is seized, the horrid head jerks sideways with astonishing
violence, and the victim is not dragged but literally hurled out of the boat. It is
the work of a second.
Then an ever widening ripple on the water is all that is left to mark the scene
of yet another tragedy. In game country a crocodile will often lie concealed in
cover alongside an animal track and close to the water's edge. It lies with head
pointing towards the water and when an animal comes to drink, it is suddenly
swept off its feet and knocked into the water by a colossal blow from the croco-
dile's tail which lashes round in a great arc. Simultaneously the crocodile plunges
into the water, seizes its victim and quickly drowns it.
Now I come to the crocodile's extraordinary ability to hold a powerful,
struggling animal beneath the water without itself drowning! If you examine a
crocodile's head you will see that its nostrils are near the tip of the nose and slightly
raised. They can be closed at will either independently or together. So far, so good.
The nostrils can be hermetically sealed, but how is water kept out of the crocodile's
mouth when it must be half open as it hangs on to its prey.
At the back of the tongue and throat is a fleshy flap of skin which folds so
tightly and fits so perfectly that no water can pass down the gullet. Nose closed,
now you may well ask how on earth does the creature breathe. Well, owing to the
further foresight of nature the crocodile is capable of remaining below the surface
for long periods without the necessity of coming to the surface to breathe.
I have never yet been able to obtain any authentic information as to low long
a crocodile can remain completely submerged, but I have been told that it is as long
as an hour. Lacking gills, it must come periodically to the surface to replenish the
air in its lungs. It should be possible to obtain accurate information on this question
of length of submergence from a systematic study of menagerie specimens. The
crocodile has only to float silently towards the surface, exposing its tiny anterior
nostrils, without showing itself, for a fleeting moment to replenish its supply of fresh
air. The posterior nostrils are set so far back in the skull and so completely cut off
from the mouth cavity by specially developed bones of the palate that they have no
communication with the mouth. It is possibly the method of breathing which ac-
counts for the fact that crocodiles avoid rough water and are not found for instance
amongst the surf which prevails along the western shore of Lake Rudolf, a lake in
which crocodiles are extremely abundant.
As a rule crocodiles frequent water of no great depth, certainly not deeper than
30 feet, probably a great deal less. A crocodile is not a wanton killer and will not
take its prey under unfavourable conditions, such as excessive depth of water and
long distance from land and lairs. In very shallow water the crocodile seems to
realise that it is at a disadvantage and under such conditions is apt to display
extreme timidity and fear. If its escape is cut off, it just lies quietly in the mud and
hopes for the best.
When the crocodile feeds while in the water it has to come to the surface and
raise its head clear of the water before it can swallow food. In the River Nile, just
below the Murchison Falls, crocodiles can be watched at dusk and after dark, feed-
ing on large Nile perch.
Here the manifold attractive sounds of the African night are periodically aug-
mented by a sinister clop as a waiting crocodile snaps at a passing fish. From time
to time the clop is followed by a bestial gulping, and if the scene is lit up in the
beam of a torch one will see a horrid, crocodilian head held high above the water,
a huge struggling fish in its mighty jaws. A few convulsive champing movements
end in the great fish disappearing head foremost down the enormous gullet, and
the crocodile resumes its position in the feeding ground.
Crocodiles are powerful enough to be able to seize and drown animals as large
as buffaloes. There is a case recorded in which a crocodile pulled a rhinoceros into
a river having seized it by the leg, and after a long struggle eventually drowned it. At
Koja a crocodile once attempted to seize a domesticated buffalo as it was drinking.
It mistimed its stroke and all it got hold of was a length of tethering chain. Herds-
men saw what was happening and hastened to the rescue. Some years ago a buffalo
started to swim from Bukakata to a point on Bugala Island, nearly 3 miles distant.
On the way a crocodile seized its tail and hung on grimly, naturally retarding the
buffalo's progress. The harassed animal struggled gamely on-and landed, but
minus its tail. That's all the crocodile got.
Once a crocodile has laid hold of its prey, it is wellnigh impossible, short of
killing it, to free the victim. I have been told that human beings have been able to
extricate themselves from the crocodile's unyielding grip by resorting to the expedi-
ent of pressing their thumbs or fingers into the monster's eyes. It's a desperate last
minute chance, and there are few who would have the presence of mind, even if they
had the opportunity, to try such a remedy.
Closely connected with the method of seizing is the normal food of this creature,
in fact, what the crocodile has for breakfast. The crocodile is, of course, carni-
vorous and not particular for it will just as readily consume carrion as fresh food. It
is a cannibal and readily devours carcases of its own species even when they are in
a revolting stage of putrescence. In the course of my annual operations on the
breeding grounds it is unusual for a carcase to be left more than three days. Some-
times carcases are dragged a considerable distance through forest to the water, and
the crocodiles although they will feed on land, seem to prefer to take their meal in
their natural element. It is strange that bloated carcases lying in all directions on a
breeding ground do not drive away the remaining nest owners. The crocodile must
often find life very difficult, and in many localities big meals are few and far between.
As night approaches these creatures come into the shallows to feed in the hope of
waylaying a lung fish or a fat silurid (cat fish or male), though often they have to be
content with any crabs or large molluscs (Ampullaria) they can find. The examination
of a crocodile's stomach, though interesting, is a disgusting performance. At first
sight it would appear that these creatures feed chiefly on grass and stones I for that's
all that will be found in most stomachs. The digestive juices are mainly strong
hydrochloric acid, and digestion is particularly rapid. The vegetable matter is no
doubt consumed accidentally when the crocodile is feeding in the shallows, and
similarly the stones are presumably picked up and swallowed as snails and crabs are
taken off the lake bottom.
It is not unusual to find a few pounds weight of stones of all sizes up to two
inches in diameter in one stomach. These stones may help to keep the digestive
juices active during protracted periods of fast, or they may serve the purpose of the
grit which is found in a bird's crop and gizzard. Big snakes like pythons which
sometimes fast for many months do not carry stones in their stomachs. Some native
tribes use these stones as charms.
Closely associated with food and food supply is the question of growth. Plenty
of food and regular meals normally produce steady, even growth. But the crocodile,
generally, in its wild state does not obtain regular, adequate meals. In the early years
of its life it is to a great extent insectivorous, and growth is slow. I was once under
the impression that growth is abnormally slow, at least in the earlier years of a
crocodile's life, and that it did not exceed two inches per twelve months. Details
obtained of the rate of growth of specimens of the Nile crocodile kept in the fine
Zoological Gardens at Cairo under reasonably natural conditions of climate, tempe-
rature and environment, have necessitated a revision of my ideas. Examples caught
when very young increased in length from about 5 to 14 inches a year at first, and
about 9 inches a year can be taken as an average. This would mean that a crocodile
2 feet 6 inches in length is about 3 years old, 4 feet in length 5 years, 5 feet 6 inches
in length 7 years, and so forth. On the other hand a female 7 feet 2 inches in length
when caught, did not increase more than six inches in length in the next eight years.
Other information received recorded an increase of two inches in four months in a
16-inch specimen. It is noteworthy that young captive crocodiles kept in ponds and
tanks of extremely restricted limits have not grown for many years, evidently
adapting the rate of their growth to their environment, but if moved to more extensive
quarters body growth has been immediately stimulated.
Dwarf races of Crocodilus niloticus occur in various parts of Africa, and these
pygmies are well-known from the Aswa (or Moroto) and Greek rivers in Eastern
Uganda. These small creatures do not differ-except in size-from normal Crocodi'us
niloticus and they aestivate in holes in banks during the dry weather. The lack of
growth is due to the mode of life they are obliged to live owing to a deficiency of
permanent water. The average size of these dwarf adults is 5 feet or a little over. A 5
feet specimen which was judged to be elderly had a head length of 123 inches. This
is interesting, as in the normal crocodile seven times the length of the skull gives the
approximate total length of the beast. Using this formula the length of the dwarf
should have been over 7 feet. Apart from the fact that growth generally had been
retarded it would appear that body growth had been disproportionately reduced.
These stunted creatures have plenty of ferocity though fortunately not over-much
I cannot say when a crocodile ceases to develop in length, but its girth seems
steadily to increase no matter what its age. 1 have occasionally, though rarely, come
across enormous examples which had a belly width of several feet. There is more
nonsense written about the size of the African crocodile than perhaps of any other
nature subject. It is indeed curious that the monster crocodiles, of which one so often
hears, unfortunately never seem to get measured. In Lake Victoria most males I
have measured have been between 12 and 14 feet. Measurements exceeding 14 feet
are not uncommon although I have only once come across a specimen as long as 15
feet. I have handled several hundred dead females on the breeding grounds, and the
majority have been between 10 and 11 feet, though plenty have measured nearly
1 l~ feet. 9 to 10 feet specimens are not uncommon, and any thing smaller--8 feet is
the smallest nest owner I have measured-rare. I have come across one breeding
female of 12 feet, as well as a 13 feet and a 14 feet monster, but these were no
There is no need to discuss further the subject of length though in passing I
will mention that several years ago an eminent visitor wrote in a London paper that
he had seen hundreds of crocodiles 34 feet in length on his way to the Murchison
Falls. Also, in the early days of th: development of the Protectorate a Marine
Officer claimed to have killed a 26 feet crocodile in Lake Kyoga. There does exist
an out-size crocodile in the oceans washing the shores of eastern India, Malaya, the
East Indies and Australia which is known to reach the astonishing length of 33 feet,
but in the case of the Nile crocodile anything over 15 feet can be regarded as
exceptional. If any of you really want to know the look of a length of 26 or 33 feet,
just take a tape measure and mark them out in a room. Then think of "Lutembe."
With size goes weight. I have never tried to weigh an adult crocodile either whole or
piecemeal, but a big crocodile is a heavy beast of many hundredweight. The record-
ed weight of an exceptionally large example killed at the southern end of Lake
Victoria is quoted as two tons.
It is strange that so bulky a creature is at the same time so buoyant and so agile
in the water. A tremendous amount of air escapes out of the carcase of a crocodile
killed with a gaping body wound in the back when it sinks in shallow water.
1 have little authentic information on the subject of age, but it seems probable
that it is the most long-lived of all reptiles and mammals. I have been told on the
evidence of the Mugger Pir at Karachi where many crocodiles have been kept in
captivity for a few hundred years, that certain examples seen by British residents
one hundred years ago are still alive. I cannot, however, say whether or no this
evidence is reliable. Amongst the vertebrates birds generally are long-lived, and
there are many species which enjoy exceptional longevity. Even some of the smaller
kinds will live for as long as 30 years. There is no reason then why the crocodile which
is closely allied to the birds should not be unusually long-lived. There is so much to
tell about the crocodile, that one could easily devote a couple of lectures to the story,
so I must hurry if I want to describe all this creature's extraordinary attributes. The
eyesight is particularly acute, do I not know this only too well from my own fre-
quent discomfiture, as this creature can see clearly for long distances especially
when, it is looking at a large object like a launch on the water. As you all probably
know the eyes are raised which enables the crocodile to see above the water with the
minimum exposure of its head. The eye has an extra transparent eyelid or nictitat-
ing membrane, as in birds, which can be used both to protect and clean it. The
colour of the eye is a cold, grey-brown.
The hearing is good and I imagine is peculiarly sensitive to vibration both on
land and in the water. The ears are protected from the water by ear flaps which can
be raised or lowered at will. Although the adult crocodiles are generally mute they
indulge in a good deal of bellowing during the breeding season. It is believed that at
these times it is only the males which are vocal. When annoyed crocodiles hiss
loudly, by expelling air from the body. From their subsequent behaviour, it would
appear that this hissing is intended as a warning, rather like that of the puff-adder,
and if ignored it is followed by an attack.
There is another sound which I have heard occasionally on the breeding
grounds, and it has invariably been made by a female at the water's edge or when
lying half-out of the water. I suspect it of being a mating call to the male.
It is a sort of throaty growling which may be sustained for a minute at a time. It
is not unlike the curious noise I have previously described which was heard when
mating was taking place. The colour of the inside of the mouth and the throat
varies from an anaemic yellow to the richest orange yolk. The effect of a number of
crocodiles basking in the sunlight with their mouths wide open can to say the least
of it, be startling. The colour of the hide below is pale yellow. Above, it is a mixture
of brown, green and yellow drying to a general dull greyish. In rapid flowing rivers
which keep the hides well-scoured, almost polished, the coloration is sometimes
strikingly handsome and of a vivid olive-green or rich yellow brown. Old crocodiles,
particularly the males, become very black. I have never heard of an albino. The hide
of the smaller specimens between 4 feet and 8 feet in length is a valuable article of
commerce, but as it is the belly skin which is used, the skin must not be cut down
the centre of the belly as is normal in the case of other animals. It is a curious hide
made up of tough scutes or shields which are smooth below where the heavy body
rubs along the ground and very rough above. The scutes are joined by skin
and those in the dorsal region are ridged. Owing to the rapid decomposition which
sets in immediately a skin is exposed to the influence of the tropical sun it is essen-
tial to execute the skinning as speedily as possible. Also, coarse salt should be
generously rubbed into the fleshy side of the skin as flaying progresses. The larger
hides are too heavy and too coarse. Tanning is simple and takes five to six weeks.
This is a great contrast to a buffalo hide which, locally, will not be thoroughly
tanned after five or six months.
The powerful tail is the principal means of propulsion when swimming in the
water, though of course the feet are also used. It is interesting to examine a tail and
see how the narrow, oar-like portion is fringed with fin-scales standing vertically
in the water, whereas the heavier part of the tail is supported, by lateral fan-like scales
arranged either side at the top. The method of progression on land is somewhat
unexpected for so massive a beast. It does not move on its belly like a snake although
from its normal recumbent attitude one may be excused for thinking it glides along
the ground. I had quite a shock when I first saw one of these uncouth monsters
heave its body off the ground, and then with the end of its tail dragging move
ponderously and laboriously, poised clumsily on its short legs, towards the water. It
cannot maintain this position for long, especially when alarmed, and has to have a
momentary rest on its tummy before it can go on again.
The forefoot is not unlike a hand, three of its digits are clawed and two are
clawless; the hind foot resembles a human or a bear's foot, it has four digits, three
of which are clawed.
In India crocodiles have been known to make long journeys overland to get
back to water. In Uganda local conditions obviate the necessity for such wanderings.
Early in this talk I mentioned the instinct which leads the newly-hatched crocodile
unerringly to water. In further confirmation of this I can mention the case of several
tiny crocodiles a few months old which were taken by air to Khartoum from Enteb-
be. The little creatures soon escaped from their new home, and it was noticed that
although their pen was many miles from the Nile each of them as soon as it was free
had moved without hesitation towards the great river-the only natural water-the
series of unmistakable little tracks being plainly visible in the sand.
Although a crocodile is not a particularly difficult creature to kill, it is, except
in the case of the females on the breeding grounds which can be dealt with at close
quarters, exceptionally hard to kill outright. I have no doubt that a crocodile hit
fairly in the body with a soft-nosed bullet quickly succumbs, though the hunter will
have no proof to this effect. Whereas on land a brain shot has an instantaneous,
incapacitating effect, in the water it often stimulates the crocodile into astonishing
activity. This is not only because the creature is in its natural element, but also
owing to the fact that the locomotory nervous system, as in the case of snakes is in
the region of the cervical vertebrae well behind the head. A brain shot, therefore,
does not necessarily prevent further movement, especially when one side only of the
brain is damaged and I have seen an 11 feet female on land shot through the brain
and which had been placed on her back, subsequently turn over three times during
the next quarter-of-an-hour and instinctively make for the water-not many paces
distant-which twice necessitated her turning the full length of her body right round.
The creature was actually dead as far as the brain was concerned, but its locomotory
system was still sufficiently active and powerful for the creature to have got into the
water if it had not been stopped. Brain shots in the water produce a variety of
results. A smashing central hit sends the big brute to the bottom swiftly and silently
with scarcely a movement to indicate what has happened: sometimes the great body
rolls on to its back, a foot shows for a moment, and then it disappears. When the
shot is to one side the creature may roll over and over in the water for several
minutes, all four feet showing, before sinking, it may even roll itself on shore. More
rarely a brain shot galvanises the brute into astonishing activity, and it shoots along
the surface at terrific speed from time to time leaping high into the air, the whole of
its great bulk almost clear of the water. A curious result is when the rolling over and
over is followed by the crocodile swimming steadily round in ever decreasing circles,
its movements evidently controlled by one side of the brain only, until eventually it
comes ashore. A crocodile's head showing just above the water presents a most
difficult target. When one is shooting at crocodiles on land either from a boat drift-
ing down a river or from a bobbing canoe, one's quarry unless hit squarely in the
side of the neck is almost certain to get away into the water where it is lost.
On land a bullet from above in the vicinity of the locomotory nerves will anchor
the creature, but it must be realized that it does not incapacitate those deadly jaws
which should also be put out of action as quickly as possible. The crocodile's chief
enemy is man. In some localities hungry lions not infrequently kill, and eat croco-
diles, and it is interesting to record that the lion's method of attack is in the first
instance to smash the skull. Crocodiles and hippos are often found in abundance to-
gether in the same waters. They regard each other with the same spirit of mutual
confidence which exists between the European dictators. So long as the crocodile
behaves itself it is tolerated, but once the crocodile has given way to temptation and
purloined a succulent hippo calf the war is on, and woe betide the crocodile which
is savaged by an infuriated hippo cow. I believe I am correct in stating that the
hippo invariably wins. On the banks of a large river in India early one morning I
came across the carcase of a three-quarters grown leopard which had obviously
succumbed to injuries inflicted by a crocodile. It is not difficult to imagine the type
of injuries the leopard's claws had caused to the crocodile's face and eyes which had
forced the fearsome monster to let go.
Besides the ever-hungry and persistent monitor lizards which frequent the
breeding grounds, the spotted hyena has been observed unearthing and eating the
eggs. The adult crocodiles also will consume eggs which have been thrown into the
water. The tiny juveniles are freely preyed on by the big lizards, the lesser carni-
vora, birds and predatory fishes. Juvenile mortality is extremely high, and it is only
a very small percentage of those hatched, one per cent or possibly even .1 per cent,
which reach maturity. It is certainly lucky.
Crocodiles are sometimes thickly infested with leeches. A crocodile, killed by
Capt. Salmon in Lake Victoria, was suffering from curvature of the spine, besides
which there were big patches of a fungoid disease on its back.
Crocodiles I have killed are usually well-scarred from fighting, some have had
terrible injuries, at times in a most disgusting and noisome suppurating condition.
There is unfortunately no time to describe the various methods employed in
combating the crocodile menace-for these elusive creatures do constitute the most
appalling menace to man and his property. The African lacks imagination and
quickly forgets a human tragedy and omits to take the most elementary precautions.
Again and again the dread man-eater takes its grisly toll, and lack of imagination is
114 UGANDA JOURNAL.
aided and abetted by apathy and fatalism. To me it seems obvious that the most
satisfactory and lasting results are to be obtained by killing the female crocodiles on
the breeding grounds; moreover it is easy. The destruction of the eggs is merely
incidental to the main activities of the campaign.
Crocodile flesh is eaten by many African tribes, probably more so in the past
than at present. On the other hand there is a belief, especially prevalent in West
Africa, that human beings who eat crocodile flesh become cannibals. The reproduc-
tive organs are sometimes eaten as love potions, and I have often seen my followers
cutting these from dead crocodiles, probably not for themselves, but to sell. In
South Africa it is said that an extremely potent poison is made from the contents
of the gall bladder when dried. Finally, what is the origin of the expression
"crocodiles' tears". I presume it is that quaint passage in the Mediaeval Lore of
Bartholomew Anglicus. "If the crocodile findeth a man by the brim of the water,
or by the cliff, he slayeth him if he may, and then he weepeth upon him and
swalloweth him at the last". In fact an excellent description of an arch-hypocrite!
My own summing up of the crocodile's character is that this foul beast is a typical
bully and a great coward.
by M. B. DAVIS.
In common with other Bantu languages Lunyoro is rich in proverbs. The
writer has herself in the course of a few years collected about 1700 and there must
be hundreds more. Anyone who wishes really to enjoy a language, as well as to
understand something of the outlook on life and mode of thought of the people who
speak it, must not shirk a thorough study of the proverbs. Though extremely
fascinating it is not altogether an easy study, partly because the European's way of
looking at things is often diametrically opposed to the African's, and partly because
the language of the proverbs is so "allusive and elusive", the idiom is subtle and
the ideas frequently so condensed that one sometimes despairs of ever arriving at
the true inner meaning as understood by the native.
"To understand a proverb, and an interpretation; the words of the wise, and
their dark sayings" is indeed no easy matter, but it is well worth the effort, especially
perhaps for the teacher or the preacher. "Because the Preacher was wise, he . .
pondered, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. . The words of the
wise are as goads, and as nails well fastened are the words of the collectors of
Quoting from the Preface to 'African Aphorisms'-"It is very interesting to
find a people differing so widely from us-in their surroundings, in their experience
of life, and in their observation of the world-yet coming to the same conclusions
as ourselves on many points, and in their own language, and in their own way,
giving expression to those conclusions". So first of all, let us study some Lunyoro
Proverbs which have their parallels in English.
'Dont' count your chickens before they are hatched' is a very common proverb.
Etakarukire mu ihuli togyeta nkoko (That which has not yet come out of the
egg do not call it a fowl).
Tosara ngozi otakaboine mwana (Don't cut the carrying-cloth before you have
seen the child).
Akasoro katakagwire oti 'Orukoba rw'ihembe range' (The little animal has
not yet fallen (you say) thus 'The skin of the horn is mine'). This refers to
a hunter who reckons on making a handle for his hunting-horn or a collar
for his dog before he has killed the animal he is hunting.
Etakabagirwe teba nyama (That which is not yet flayed is not meat).
Eky'otakalire tosangwa wayesama (That which you have not yet eaten don't be
found with your mouth wide open).
Ow'empimbale orubindi aitira yatahire (The owner of the blind cow waits till
it comes home before he prepares (smokes) the milk vessel).
Obw'oba noyebarra kulima ekokoro neyebarra omukono (When you prepare to
cultivate, the disease called 'ekokoro' prepares (to attack) your hand).
'While there's life there's hope'.
Atafire tabura ekyatunga (Who has not died does not fail to get).
Ekitaita muhuma tikimumaraho nte (That which does not kill the owner of
cattle does not deprive him of the means of getting more).
Okukuranga omu bafu bakuranga omu bahuta (Better be among the wounded
than among the dead).
'Too many cooks spoil the broth'.
Abacumbi babiri basisa omukubi (Two cooks spoil the vegetables).
Abaisiki babiri tibagoya busera (Two girls do not stir the gruel).
Embeba nyingi tirima buina (Many rats do not dig holes).
'Procrastination is the thief of time'.
'Ngende, ngende' yamara entanda ('I am going, I am going' finished the food
for the journey).
'Linda kihweyo' acumita omukira ('Wait till it goes by' spears the tail).
'Biriija ndigura' akajwara na nyina enkanda ('They will come; I will buy'
shared a skin garment with his mother).
'Forewarned is forearmed'.
Ekiija omanyire kitwara bike (That which comes you know (are prepared) takes
Embiso emanyirwe tiita nte (The pit which is known does not kill the cow).
Eyehinda nohurra tetera ebyanikire (The rain which threatens and you hear it
does not fall on the things which are spread out to dry).
'Familiarity breeds contempt'.
Amaizi gaita ngamanya (The water kills I know it).
Ruina rw'omulyango arutantara arugwamu (The hole in the doorway who
avoids it (eventually) falls into it).
Ekimanyirraine kikakwasa embwa omu main (Familiarity caused to catch
hold of the dog's teeth). This refers to some one who is playing with a dog
and takes hold of its mouth.
Omwerengerro gukateza engundu oruhi (Presumption caused the bull to be
beaten with the flat of the hand). The result may be imagined.
'When in Rome do as Rome does'.
Obw'asanga mukama nanywa amaizi ogenda ha mugera (When you find the
master drinking water you go to the stream).
Obw'ogya bulya embwa naiwe olya embwa (When you go where they eat dogs
you eat dogs too).
Enswa okwehindura amaiso naiwe ohindura enjubu (When flying-termites
change their entrances you also change the hole you dig for them).
'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush'.
Ikumi itahire nizikira igana erinyakubuzire (Ten cows which have come home
are better than a herd which is lost).
Eky'ogonza kikunagisa eky'okwasire (That which you want makes you drop that
which you hold).
Omuigo gwa hara tigukujuna njoka (A stick which is far away does not save
you from a snake).
'Out of the frying-pan into the fire'.
Oirukire enjura omu rufunjo (You have run out of the rain into the papyrus
Nkatemba enjojo kwejuna amahwa (I climbed onto an elephant to save myself
'Give a dog a bad name and hang him'.
Ibara libi liita (A bad name kills).
Nambere hali omubi omurungi taiba (Where there is a bad person a good one
does not steal, i.e. is not accused of theft although he may be the guilty
'Union is strength'.
Agahikaine nugo gata igufa (The teeth which meet crack the bone).
Engaro iganjaine nizo iyora oburo (It is the hands which have made friends
with each other which gather up the millet).
Engo ehigwa oruganda (A leopard is hunted by the clan).
Ekilema abasaija bakikwataniza (That which is too hard for men they take
hold of it together).
'Birds of a feather flock together'.
Omurungi omuserra nakuserra (A good person you seek him and he seeks you).
'Two heads are better than one'.
Amagezi g'omu gafa busa (The wisdom of one is useless).
Mboha-nyenka akamara ebigoye naboha (I-fasten-by-myself used up all the
fibre in fastening).
'The early bird catches the worm'.
Akuzindukira nuwe alya obuhoro bwawe (The earliest visitor is the one who
eats your cold food).
'First come, first served'.
Akubanza entonge nuwe akubanza omuiguto (The one who eats the first
mouthful is the one who is satisfied first).
'Handsome is as handsome does'.
Obuculezi bw'entama tibugihinda kulya kigogo (The meekness of the sheep
does not prevent it eating the wrapping (of the bundle that has had salt in
'Between two stools you fall to the ground'.
Ow'amaka abiri aitwa enjara (One who has two homes dies of hunger). As a
man with two wives each of whom thinks the other has cooked food for
him and so he has nothing to eat.
'The child is father to the man'.
Akaliba kayugi okarorra ha mukono (That little gourd which will be a drink-
ing-cup you see it by the handle).
'Look before you leap'.
Akambu otakambukaga obanza olengamu omuhunda (A stream which you
have never crossed first try it with your spear).
'Once bitten twice shy' or 'A burnt child dreads the fire'.
Akutera orubale takumwererra (Who hits you on the head does not shave you).
Atemerwe enjoka atina omunya (One who has been bitten by a snake is afraid
of a lizard).
'Discretion is the better part of valour'.
Emanzi emu terwanisa bitini bibiri (One brave man does not fight two
Embwa emu tehiga nkerebe (One dog does not hunt an ape).
Many a mickle makes a muckle'.
Kamu, kamu, nugwo muganda (A little one, a little one, is a bundle).
'Practise what you preach'.
Obw'ogya okutega oburaza obwebandizaho (When you are going to make cuts
on another person's arm begin on your own).
'Heaven helps those who help themselves'.
'Omucwezi onjuna' n'amaguru gawe egaloho (Spirit save me' and your legs are
'When the cat's away the mice play'.
Nambere nyineka atali ebikere bitemba enju (Where the householder is not
frogs climb up the house).
'Slow and sure wins the race'.
Mpora, mpora, ekahikya omunyongorozi ha iziba (Slowly, slowly, brought the
worm to the well).
Mpora, mpora, ehisa obusera (Slowly, slowly, cooks the porridge).
'His bark is worse than his bite'.
Okwihuna tukwo ibalya (As they (hyenas) grunt is not as they eat you).
Okwehinda tukwo egwa (As it (rain) threatens is not as it falls).
Ehuru y'enkuba obw'egwa omu igana itamu entama (A weak stroke of lightning
when it falls among the flock strikes only a sheep).
'All is not gold that glisters'.
Ogw' enyange gwera aheru, omunda gwiragura ((The body) of the egret is
white outside, inside it is black).
'Shoemakers' children go the worst shod'.
Omubumbi alira ha nguhyo (A potter eats off a sherd).
Omuhesi ayetwaza ekihoso (A blacksmith walks with piece of pointed iron for
'Strike while the iron's hot'.
Obu bitungirwa jabura (When the food steams test it to see if it is cooked).
'Half a loaf is better than no bread'.
Okurara omwa Byabura orara omwa Kunayata (Better to stay at a house where
they eat dry bread than at one where they have nothing to eat).
'It never rains but it pours'.
Okufa ebiso n'enyuma (To die outside and behind, i.e. to come to grief when
away from home and when at home).
'Curiosity killed the cat'.
Kandole bakamurasa ogw'eriiso (Let-me-see they shot him in the eye).
'Like father like son'.
Ekiiha embwa enkuru ha komi n'ento kirigiihaho (That which takes the old
dog from the fire will also take the young one).
'Exchange is no robbery'.
Ebyomire bigurangana, enjojo egurwa embundu (Live things buy one another,
an elephant is bought with a gun).
'One swallow does not make a summer'.
Oruswa ruti 'Parru' ngu 'Bunyata orame?' (The flying-ant thus 'Parru' (des-
cribing the whirring of its wings) you say 'Goodbye to eating dry bread?')
'It takes two to make a quarrel'.
Enkungani itekwa babiri (Quarrelling depends on two people).
'A stitch in time saves nine'.
Arajuna enkoko agijuna nekyahababuka (Who wants to save a fowl saves it
while it is still flapping its wings).
'The pot calling the kettle black'.
Omusuma aseka omusombozi (The thief laughs at the robber).
Ente etakukamirwe musumba gw'embwa (The cow which has never been
milked for you is the milk of a dog).
Ow'abaisiki banugire ati 'Nkabanga' (One who is disliked by the girls says 'I
Akapimpina nikasigwa emparra kati 'Omwaitu ebisiri bihango bikangamu' (The
chameleon fails to catch the saying 'At my home the big animals refused
to come in').
Atanyina mulinga ngu 'Nugununka' (Who has no brass bracelet says 'It smells
'Tit for tat'.
Akutega emparra omutega omuconco (Who catches a large locust for you you
catch for him a stick-insect).
Akutera ogw'okutu omutera ogw'eriiso (Who hits you on the ear you hit him
in the eye).
Akujugira enku omuzimurra iju (Who pays you a dowry of firewood you pay
him back with ashes).
Akana karra tikaihwa ruhazi (A cry-baby does not have the biting ant picked
'You shut the stable door after the horse is stolen'.
Oigarra ekinyadere empisi emazire kutwara (You stuff up the hole after the
hyena has taken (the goat)).
Ozinira ebimuga kunu abarongo bagurukire (You dance for the birth of twins
after they are dead).
The following passages bear a striking resemblance to well-known passages in the
Mbere omutumbi guli nuho esega zesoroleza (Where the carcase is, there the
vultures gather). Cp. Mat. 24,28.
Omunaku ayomire akira omuguda afire (A poor man who is alive is better
than a rich man who is dead). Cp. Eccles. 9,4.
Omuntu kumwesiga mu bikoto babanza kumurorra mu bike (To trust a man in
big matters they first watch him in little ones). Cp. Luke 16, 10.
Obujune bumanywa nyinabwo (Sorrow (or trouble) is known by the owner of
it). Cp. Prov. 14, 10.
Emyehembo enaga ekigwo (Pride causes a fall). Cp. Prov. 16, 18.
Abinga ibiri imusiga (Who chases two (animals) they leave him behind.
Cp. Mat. 6,24.
Mbere omutuma gurara nuho amaguru gazindukira (Where the heart stays
there the legs visit early). Cp. Mat. 6. 21.
Obwesige bwingi bakubuza ekikere omukira (Too much trust caused the frog
to lose his tail). Cp. Psalm 146, 3.
The reference here is to the frog whose uncle was distributing tails to all the
animals. The nephew, thinking his uncle would be sure to keep a nice one for
him, did not trouble to arrive in good time and found that all the tails had
been given away.
Oyokya enju osereka omuika? (You set fire to a house and hide the smoke?).
Cp. Numbers 32,23.
Omurungi atali kamogo azirwa (A good man in whom is no blemish is not to
be found). Cp. Romans 3, 10.
Obunura bubiri bwata amatama (Two nice tastes burst the cheeks). Cp.
James 1, 8.
Ekyoma tikirema muhesi (The iron does not rule the smith) and
Ekihangire omutwe nikyo kigwata (That which created the head breaks it).
Compare with these ideas such passages as Isaiah 64, 8. which describe
the power of the potter over the clay.
Wahika enyungu, wayanga enziro? (You go near the cooking-pot and refuse
(to be soiled with) soot?). Cp. 1 Cor. 15, 33.
Okuikiriza tikuhinda okwanga (Agreeing does not hinder you from refusing).
Compare the Parable of The Two Sons in Matthew 21, 30.
Enura muno bagiima omwoki? (The tasty bit of meat do they grudge it to
the one who roasts? Cp. Luke 10. 7. & 1 Tim. 5, 18.
Arakuita ayefora owanyu (Who wants to kill you disguises himself as one of
your own people) and
Embeba erakwonera ija nk'erukwombera (The rat who intends to steal your
crops comes as one who weeds). With these compare 2 Cor. 11, 14.
FAMILY, CLAN AND FRIENDS.
Mothers and Children.
Muka 'so taba nyoko (Your father's (other) wife is not your mother).
Atali nyoko akuha isiga lyahinguire (One who is not your mother gives you
(seed) when the sowing-time is past).
Omuhanda nambere harabire nyoko otegamu omuhoko, totegamu mahwa (The
path where your mother passes you put in it a creeper with a soft stem,
you do not put thorns).
Akahande omwa nyoko, akanini omwa muka 'so (Coarsely ground flour at your
mother's, finely ground flour at your father's wife's house). This sounds as
if it should be the other way round, but the meaning is that your mother
seeing you are hungry hastens to grind some corn for you, while your
father's other wife does not mind keeping you waiting.
Embwa tereka misitamire ya nyinayo (A dog does not leave off sitting like its
mother). Children copy their parents.
Atera omwana aba atamunobere (Who beats a child does not hate him).
Spare the rod and spoil the child.
Akana akatoma kalya ebikatamanyire (A child who is not disobedient gets an
unexpected tit-bit). And conversely:-
Omwana ayoma tomuha karungi (A disobedient child you do not give him a
Eka teitwa bunaku, eitwa okukuza kubi (A home is not spoilt by poverty, it is
spoilt by bringing up children badly).
Embeba ezaire tiitwa buliba (A parent rat is not killed by a trap) because the
young ones get caught first. This shows how useful it is to have children!
Mothers-in-law are held in great respect. Thus:-
Obw'osanga nyokozara nafuruka naiwe otamu omutwe (When you find your
mother-in-law moving house you also put your head into it, i.e. help her
carry her bundles).
Akatengo tikakuhinguza nyokozara (Wearing a ragged garment is no excuse
for passing your mother-in-law's house).
Obw'oba noserra nyoko okaitirana nyokozara ogaruka (When you are looking
for your mother and meet your mother-in-law you turn back).
Respect for elders and superiors is shown by the following:--
Agaya abakuru b'owabu abeta abojo (One who despises his old people calls
Endwara ya nyineka tesekwa (The illness of the owner of the house is not
Nigo makune kuterra nyineka omu nju ye? (Is this proper behaviour to beat
the master of the house in his own house?).
Alya na nyineka amusona (Who eats with the master of the house treats him
Tintina-bakama buli muhungu (I-have-no-respect-for-elders is a good-for-
Ekikere nikiribatwa ente kiti 'Obw'orakagira bihembe! (The frog is trodden on
by the cow saying 'Treat me as you like, big horns!)
Anyakwangirra nyineka ayanga naturuka (Who refuses to obey the master of
the house does so while departing).
These are only a few out of many proverbs which show that elders are
respected and sometimes feared.
Bachelors are thought to have a poor time.
Okuikara busa oswera akujuma (Rather than remain single marry a nagging
Ey'omuhiru tegira mucwe (The bachelor's meat has no gravy).
The solidarity of the Clan is expressed in words such as these:-
Ekibi kikumbwa isemu (Brethren join together to fight evil).
Engo ehigwa oruganda (A leopard is hunted by the clan).
Friends and Friendship.
Engonzi ihikya hara (Affection takes one a long way).
Enganjani ibiri kurwana buli bazohere (If two friends fight they must be be-
Akujuna noyetaga buli nuwe owawe (One who helps you when you are in need
is one of your own people). A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Munywani wawe obw'ataha okingura, obw'aturuka okinga (When your great
friend enters you open the door, when he goes out you shut it).
Enganjani etagurukibwaho omuganjano tiguikara (If a friend is not willing to
forego presents the friendship is not lasting).
Munywani wawe h'ata engaro buli niyo nketo akuhaire (When your great
friend places his hand (showing you where to sit down) he has as good as
given you a skin mat to sit on).
Omukago gw'abataroho guitwa enswiga (The blood-brotherhood of worthless
people is brought to an end by (such a little thing as) a vegetable, i.e. it is
only cupboard love).
'Engonzi tifa' buli atikire (One who protests that love never dies is too infatuat-
ed for it to last).
'Engonzi ikafa' buli talireyo (When one is not given food at a friend's house
one says 'Friendship is dead').
THE IMPORTANCE OF SMALL THINGS.
Kamu, kamu, nugwo muganda (A little one, a little one, makes a bundle).
Akarakukiza tokagaya (Don't despise the little thing that will cure you).
Agabagaya nugo g'obutosa (The water which they despise is that which spoils
the millet porridge). When cooking millet flour it is so easy to add too
much water and spoil it.
Bagaya akatojo kunu nikabacumbagiza (They despise the little thorny plant,
but it makes them lame).
Buke bw'orusenene tiburuhinda kanura (The smallness of the edible grass-
hopper does not prevent its tasting nice). Edible grasshoppers are a
favourite delicacy eaten by men only.
Akake kazira mu liiso, tikazira mu itama (A little piece of food is no good in
the eye, but very useful in the mouth).
Okulya kuruga omu kwekomakoma (Eating comes from picking up little bits).
The meaning of this is that when one goes on eating snacks of food one is at
MANNERS, CUSTOMS, BELIEFS.
Akumulika ogwijagire buli nakuseruza omuhama (Who turns a light on you
when you are asleep is seeking a quarrel with you).
Nseka-nibalya buli mugwagwa (One who laughts while people are eating is a
Omuli w'enkoko (or w'embwa) akaba omu yasisira bona (The eater of fowls
(or dogs) is only one, but he brings shame on all). The Batoro do not eat
fowls or dogs.
'Balimpurra bata?' Omukazi nalya ensenene ('How will they hear about me?'
says the woman as she eats edible grasshoppers). Only men eat these deli-
cacies, perhaps because they think if women were allowed to eat them too
there would not be enough to go round!
Engozi etakahekaga omuisiki teheka mwojo (The carrying-cloth which has
never carried a girl does not carry a boy). The Batoro like the first child
to be a girl.
Ekyahurwa omutuma tikijunda, kiijukwa Rugondo (That which is stored up in
the heart does not go bad, it is remembered by Rugondo). You do not
forget what you hide in your heart and ponder over. Rugondo is a snake
who is supposed to live in everyone and seems to be a sort of conscience, as
he gives good advice. Thus another proverb says:-
Oija kubaza ekigambo, obanzege okiihe ha njoka (You are going to speak,
first take it off the serpent). The belief is that unless your Rugondo partakes
of the first mouthful a meal will not agree with you. It is also thought
that when you take medicine for worms Rugondo will not drink it, but if
by any chance he does you are sure to die, as no one can remain alive after
their Rugondo is dead.
It is the custom to give a present in return for a present as is rather quaintly
expressed in the following:-
Akaibo agenda nju eri kaserra akandi (The little basket goes to that house, it
looks for another little one).
Empano y'omunaku obwakauita enda omwagura obuhere (The return gift of a
poor man is when he kills a louse for you you scratch his itch). One good
turn deserves another.
EmpAno etagarukire buli burogo (A gift which does not come back is like
Obw'obona ayakuhaire oti 'Ebyange byanyagwa', ayakwimire byakira. This is
rather difficult to translate, but the meaning is that if anyone gives you a
present you must give one in return, but if anyone grudges you a gift your
goods are saved!
Omukaikuru wa ha mugongo tomuhera kukuha (The old woman who lives
near you do not give to her because you expect something in return). This
shows a nice spirit towards old people.
Asenyera omutwe gwe taburwa nku (Who fetches as much firewood as he can
carry on his head will have no lack).
Agongerra eby'enfuka alima (Who wants to enjoy the produce of the hoe digs).
Agongerra ebya Kaijwire aramaga (Who covets the things of Kaijwire (the
drum that sounds the war alarm) must go out to fight). If he is lazy or
cowardly he will not get a share of the plunder.
Obunaku tibutambwa kurra, bwetamba bwonka (Poverty is not cured by weep-
ing, it cures itself (by industry)).
Omunya gutekambire gusigara omu kibanja (A lizard which does not exert
itself gets left behind in a place (when the inhabitants have moved away).)
Akanwa k'ondi tikakurorra marwa (Somebody else's mouth does not taste the
beer for you).
Omugara agyayo tabura nsambu (A lazy person who keeps on going (to culti-
vate) will have a garden where the crop has been reaped). This is often
said to encourage people to work.
Ocumita omugurusi oti 'Nirikahendeke' ngu 'Omwana wange iha icumu
lyawe kandi ndakugiraha?'
The literal meaning of this is 'You spear an old man thus 'May it be broken',
thus 'My child, take out your spear, and how can I run away from you?' A
youth throws his spear at an old man and misses. He is annoyed and
blames his spear, but the old man says 'You had better have another try as
I am too feeble to run away'. So 'if at first you don't succeed, try, try,
Ekenga eri nsongora efa garamaire (The animal that is cautious when its horns
have not grown will die when they are crooked with age).
Enkengi y'ensa erara orusaka ha munwa (A wise duiker stays at the edge of the
bush (where it can see its enemies coming and escape)).
Ebifera omunda bisemeza amalembo (Words which are not repeated make glad
the doorways). A discreet person who does not repeat other people's secrets
is always welcome.
Akasoma obujuma kararamira nambere burugire (The little bird that picks up
the berries looks up to where they came from).
Oburo walire tobweta itaka (The millet that you have eaten do not call it
And conversely: -
Obw'oigusa ensahu ekuniga (When you fill a bag full it strangles you). People
are often ungrateful for what you do for them.
Tokainunura ngoto y'omuntu, inunura ey'ente oliryaho enyama (Don't help a
person up, help a cow up for you will at least get (meat) from it when it is
Enku ezosenya oyomire nikyo oyota orwaire (The firewood you fetch when
you are well is what you warm yourself at when you are ill).
Ebibalima baina enda nibyo balya bazaire (The food they cultivate when
pregnant is what they eat when they have given birth to a child).
Okwetebuka 'Waitu' tiriri itwale (To answer 'Sir' does not imply subjection).
Omugenyi akomba owabu ruhugu (A guest who licks the plate clean is a thief
when at home).
Omugenyi tayegenya (A guest must not make himself too much at home).
Agaya ebyatungire agwa hara (One who despises what he has dies far away
Enyama mbere etali enjuba emara ekiikaro (Where there is no meat blood-
pudding will do instead).
Ibale nibaliiha omu musiri liti 'Bwona bugwo' (The stone as they take it out
of the garden (and throw it away) says 'It's all the same'). Said of one
who is content to go where he is sent or do other work if he is told to.
Amagezi macande, bakaranga nibanena (Wisdom, or common sense, is like
semsem, they eat while roasting it).
Bulibwa magezi, omukaikuru nanyata oburo (It (millet) is eaten with common
sense, the old woman eats millet without a,relish). Experience has taught
her how to make the best of it.
Here are some proverbs which deal with bad qualities:-
Nyineka w'akalehe ahendeka nagya kulya (A greedy householder breaks his
leg when going to eat).
Anyanguhya kumira ekasiga amatama gaswaire (One who is in a hurry to
swallow leaves his cheeks ashamed).
Batabinkiza akiika,- arara nasinda (They-must-not-eat-more-than-I is surfeited,
he spends the night groaning).
Akatali kawe oleka nikanura (The little thing that is not yours leave it while
it is still tasting sweet).
Asara kabiri nata omu itama tabarra owabu mairu (Who cuts twice and puts
(the meat) into his mouth does not think of the craving of his relations).
Ngendera kulya amalembo agira make (I-go-to-eat finds few doorways, i.e. is
not made welcome).
Obuli bwingi bukabuza enkoko omurundi (Greediness made the fowl's legs
thin (because it was always running about to pick up food)).
Entonge enkoto tiigusa, baitu esiga ekihemu (A large mouthful does not satisfy,
but it leaves a feeling of shame).
Ganuzire akaitwa ebikanja (One who says 'How nice the beer is' drinks it all
up and gets the dregs (which choke him).)
Tingasiga tasiga ntomi (I-will-not-leave-any-beer does not leave a fish, i.e. is
always wanting to fight someone).
Eky'otina nikyo kikuita (What you fear kills you).
Asendekerezebwa omunywani we akarora enyuma buli obutini alifa nabwo
(Who is accompanied on the way by his great friend and looks behind
S(fearfully) will die a coward).
Empisi ihikaine ijuga misana (Hyenas when together call out in the daytime).
Company makes them brave, but they are by nature cowardly animals.
Agamba eky'amalya abiri ngu 'Nanka yalenga' (Who says the salt will do for
two meals they say she is stingy).
Obw'okuma engaro nazo ikukuma (If you shut your hands tight they also shut
themselves against you, i.e. who refuses to give does not receive).
Otaligaba nk'omukyenwa, otaliima nk'afire (Do not give like one who is curs-
ed, do not grudge like a dead person).
Owotagende nauwe akubohera entanda y'ebyenju (One with whom you are not
going on a journey fasten up sweet bananas for you to eat). These are not
usually eaten by grown-ups, only by children.
Atamanya bujune bw'embwa agibinga omu kyoto (One who does not know the
sorrows of a dog drives it away from the hearth).
Endwara etali yawe tekutanga okugwijagira (An illness which is not yours does
not prevent your sleeping).
'Leka enyama ehole' buli uwe akwasire igufa ('Let the meat get cool' probably
has a bone in his hand).
Enfuka obwecweka ehira omugara (When a hoe breaks it makes a lazy person
Nyakazana aiririza ogwarakora (A lazy maidservant goes about her word idly).
Enju endolerezi eyanura entahi yayo (A house that looks on (while others
work) makes its neighbour thin).
Enju y'abarofu tehwamu binyomo (The house of the slovenly always has -ants
Ekiita engonzi kuba kuhakana (That which kills affection is arguing).
Empaka ezitahoire zireta enkungani (Endless disputing leads to strife).
Akungana n'omugera amaizi aliganywa hara (One who quarrels with the
stream will (have to) drink water far away). A quarrelsome person will not
have many friends.
Obusungu nibwokya ekitete ngu 'Isemu lya hati likafubirana' (The grass stalks
being on fire set light to the grass which says 'Brothers nowadays are jealous
Akabwa kaiba kaholerwa omugongo gwako (A puppy which steals gets paid
back with (a beating on) its back).
Kiniga aita ebye (Anger kills its things or an angry man spoils his own pos-
Ekiniga tikyambuka kambu (Anger does not cross the stream). This seems
to mean that anger does not last long.
Embwa mbi erumira enungi kugihita (A bad dog bites a good one that is
better than itself).
Obw'onaga hara obugobya buli ha mulyango gwawe (If you cheat when far
from home you will find it (cheating) on your own doorstep).
Amazima bugaija bisuba airuka (When truth comes lies run away).
Embuzi y'obunyamunwa togisibika n'eyawe (A goat with scab you do not tether
it with yours).
Ow'engeso embi taisiga muka (One who has bad habits does not leave them
Akagwire omu iju tikahuhwa (What has fallen into the ashes cannot be blown,
i.e. the dirt cannot be blown off it).
Oyokya enju osereka omuika? (You set light to a house and hide the
smoke?) .Evil deeds cannot be hidden.
Wahika enyungu wayanga enziro? (You touch the cooking-pot and refuse
the soot?) You cannot do wrong and remain unharmed.
Engambigambi agamba akaisire eka (A chatterbox tells the little thing that
spoilt the home). He rakes up past events that are better forgotten).
Abaza endanda asobeza nyineka (One who talks without stopping brings
trouble on the owner of the house).
Ajonjora eby'amaka tagira butaho (One who is too fond of gossip finds no
resting-place, i.e. is not welcome anywhere).
Ahuliriza eby'eka ye abantu atunga bake (One who listens to all the gossip of
his household gets few retainers).
Airuka muno ahingura irembo (Who runs fast passes the entrance). This is
spoken of one who talks too much.
Babileka bikubire, obu babyanjurra bimara ensi (They let them alone when they
are wrapped up, when they unwrap them they cover the earth). The 'they'
referring to words or secrets.
The Batoro evidently do not 'suffer fools gladly'. For instance:--
Bakuiha omu nsita ngu 'Mwaba nimubaza ki?' (They send you away when
they want to talk secrets and you say 'What were you talking about?').
Olisa emu ngu 'Ha irungu rum6ma?' (You herd one (cow) and say 'They
spread all over the place?').
Ohurra oli nibamweta Kihika ngu 'So aliyo?' (You hear them call a child
Kihika (the name given to a posthumous child) and you ask 'Is your father
Oterwa isemu oti 'Bankumbire?' (You are beaten by brothers saying 'Have
they joined together against me?').
Omutahi tomukaguza masinde (You don't ask your neighbour whose is that
tilled land (because you know it is his)).
Orara Mubende ngu 'Norota Abaganda?' (You stay at Mubende and say
you dream of the Baganda?). It is no dream as Mubende is on the border
of Toro and Buganda, so the Baganda are all about you.
'Ramurwa' ngu 'Leka tufe', okuzimu nogenda okulyayo oburo? (You say to
one who says 'Stop fighting' 'Let us die?' 'Are you going to the under-
world to eat millet there?). Are you so stupid as to want to be killed)
Some proverbs say that it is a good thing to travel and some that it leads to
Ensohera etabunga terya kihoya (A fly which does not visit does not feast on
Enyonyi etagenda temanya mbere oburo bwera (A bird which does not travel
does not know where the millet is ripe).
Obusema bw'enkoko-ekurra ha kyaro, temanya ha iziba (The foolishness of
the fowl-it grows up in the village, it does not know the way to the well).
But: Enkoko ehaba omulyango efa (A fowl which wanders from the door-
Obugenda ira bufumura okuzimu (To travel far pierces the underground world
(where it is inferred one will meet with unpleasant experiences)).
Of visiting it is said:--
Embungibungi isesa ebisusa (One who is always visiting gets the parings to
throw away, i.e. is given odd jobs to do).
Abunga ataleka aheka orunaku (Who visits continually carries a scorpion on
Okusiba obungire hakire ogenda okunywana (Rather than spend the day visit-
ing you had better go and make blood-brotherhood).
On taking good advice.
Ekigambo ky'omukuru mukaro, obw'oijuka onenaho (The word of an elder is
like a piece of dried meat, when you remember you take a bite).
Embogo erafa tehurra bigwara (The buffalo which will die does not hear the
hunting-horns). This is said of one who refuses to listen to good advice.
Nyantagambirwa akambukira omu bwato bw'ibumba (One who refused to take
advice crossed over in a clay boat (and was drowned)).
Endema bahanuzi terema baziki (One who refuses to listen to counsellors does
not refuse those who come to bury him).
Alinda Wakame agunura amaiso (Who watches for Brer Rabbit must keep his
eyes wide open).
Enjojo teremwa musanga gwayo (An elephant is not overburdened by his
Migayo ki entale kugamba omunyerre gukesemura; (What sort of scornful
behaviour is this when a lion speaks and a mongoose sneezes? In other
words 'Be respectful to your elders and betters.'
Entale egamba ngu 'Irungu likwatanizibwa' (The lion speaks thus 'The jungle
is tackled together'). A lion and lioness are speaking. The lion roars, as
much as to say 'I am king of the jungle', but the lioness reminds him that
she is there too and helps him. So it is the husband and wife together
that make the home).
Emiku nyingi ekahabisa embwa (Too many calls bewildered the dog).
Embeba etazaire nsuma buli ncweke (A rat that has not given birth to a thief
is childless (because all rats are thieves)).
Enkunga esekereza ekibira nikihya (A monkey laughs when the forest (its
home) is on fire).
Enda neruga omu mutwe negaruka mu muleju eti 'Gona maka gange' (The
louse goes down from the head to the beard saying 'All are my homes').
Enjojo obw'emara kufa ecumbwa ha ruguhyo (An elephant when dead is cook-
ed on a potsherd). Even the strongest come to nought when they die.
Empisi nekaguza neraza ngu 'Omurwaire wa hali yakabire?' (The hyena asks
hopefully 'Is that sick person dead yet?')
It is difficult to know where to stop when there are so many interesting
proverbs, but here are a few more to end with.
Akutwara ekiro omusima bukire (He who takes you by night you thank him
in the morning). It has not been pleasant travelling, but you are grateful
when you arrive at your journey's end. Night sorrow is morning joy.
Akatoke kagogomere tikarahuka okunagwa omuyaga (The little bent banana
tree is not easily thrown over by the wind). This reminds us of 'a creak-
'Kuba namanyire' ija enyuma ('If only I had known' comes afterwards). Be
wise in time.
Ensegu y'obukuru ehora omunwa (The flute of old age chafes the lips). So
be wise and learn while you are young.
Mukama w'ekibindi tayata, amogora (The owner of the bowl does not break,
he only chips). Like Mrs. Poyser when the jug slipped out of her hand.
Nyineka obw'abyamira akalimi enyana zibyamira esabu (When the master of
the house lies down with his tongue (keeps silent when things are not as they
should be) the calves lie down in the dirt).
Akuserra amohora, amasasura takuserra (He seeks you when he wants to
borrow, not to pay back). Being in debt does not trouble the African.
Asigara aheru akinga emihingo.
,, ha kyoto akuma omurro.
S omu nju alinda emyaniko.
These have much the same meaning, viz: 1) Who is left outside bars the
door; 2) Who is left at the hearth makes up the fire; 3) Who is left in the
house takes care of the things that are spread out on the ground to dry.
Ebitagarukirwemu bisoba (Matters which are not thoroughly discussed are not
settled satisfactorily). It would be as well if we Europeans remembered
this proverb sometimes in our dealings with the African.
Ekiti otamanyire nugwo mubazi gutamba (It may be that the herb you do not
know is good medicine). As the Batoro are exceedingly conservative and
unwilling to try new food, new ways, &c., this is quite a good proverb to
Ezibansongorra tizibamba (The pegs which they sharpen for me do not peg me
out (like a skin)). The things we fear often do not happen.
Osereka enyama omurro oba oragyokesa ki? (If you hide the meat from the
fire how will you roast it?) This was once quoted with great effect by a
Government official when speaking of the advantage of sending children to
Ababiri bagamba kamu, abasatu basatura ebigambo (Two people keep a secret,
three let out out).
Akuha nuwe akurubasa omuirima (Who gives to you makes you go in the
dark, i.e. you take trouble to go to one who will be sure to help you).
Nothing worth having is to be bad without taking trouble and least of all
the inner meaning of proverbs which certainly well repay our careful study.
"Old Azigara" of the West Nile.
Those who remember the article on the wonderful elephant "Old Azigara" in
Volume VI No. 2 of the Uganda Journal will be sorry to hear that the demise
predicted there in the last paragraph appears to have occurred.
We are informed by the author of the note, Mr. R. W. Maling, that "Old
Azigara" was shot by the Wakie of Maracha in the West Nile District near the Kaia
river towards the end of March of this year. His tusks weighed respectively 116
and 120 lbs. and one was badly damaged by bullets.
May 16th, 1941.
The Uganda Journal,
I am grateful to the Conservator of Forests, Mr. Brasnett, for pointing out to
me a number of mistakes in the Scientific names of trees in my article on Baganda
Craftsmen in Vol. VIII number II of The Uganda Journal.
I can only say that the names were taken from Kitching and Blackledge's
Luganda-English Dictionary without reference to a scientific book.
The correct names should read as follows:-
On p. 49 1.10 for "Gynometra" read "Cynometra".
,,11 for "Coriacea" read coriariaa".
,, 53 ,, 3 from bottom of page, for "Excelsa" read "excelsa".
S 53 ,, 2 from bottom of page, for "Ranwolfia Vomitoria)" read
57 ,, 8 for "Alcurites" read "Aleurites".
Throughout the article for 'gauge' read 'gouge'.
Winds and Storms of Lake Victoria.
5th May, 1941.
The Uganda Journal,
Private Post Bag,
I read with very keen interest Mr. Chorley's article in your January issue on the
Winds and Storms of Lake Victoria.
Unless weather conditions have changed a great deal since I was in Sesse twenty
years ago I think the channel between Jana and the Kome group calls for mention.
One nearly always struck dirty weather there and my canoemen called it 'Nabisa-
siro'. Apparently they saw a likeness between the white capped waves driven
through the Jana gap by the south wind and the sweepings brushed across a court-
yard. Also, my recollection is that Nkoma was much the strongest wind that struck
the Sozi headland where my camp was. It generally chose the inconvenient hour
of 3 a.m. or thereabouts to try, sometimes with a degree of success, to uproot my
tent pegs. I also think that the name 'Mbuyaga' was given in Bugalla to a wind
from a definite locality, probably the West or North West, and not to a strong
wind from any direction as in Buganda. 'Mugendu', the north wind, should 1
think read 'Mugundu'. It would be interesting to know if the names for the various
winds vary in the different island groups.
I am, Sir,
VITHALDAS HARIDAS & Co., Limited.
General Managers for
Uganda (Kakira) Sugar Works Limited.
(INCORPORATED IN UGANDA)
KENYA SUGAR LIMITED.
(INCORPORATED IN KENYA)
Nile Industrial & Tobacco Co., Ltd.
(INCORPORATED IN UGANDA)
Sugar, Cigarettes, and Tobacco Manufacturers, Ginners
and Cotton Merchants, Importers and Exporters.
Kakira Sugar Works :-
Holding about 14,ooo acres of land mostly under cultivation.
At Mile 8 Jinja-Iganga Road. Employing about 6,ooo Africans,
300 Indians, Europeans, Mauritians. About 30 miles of Light Railway.
Water supply to the Factory by means of pumping plant on Lake
Telephone: Kakira Factory 125.
P.O. Box 54, JINJA (UGANDA).
Kenya Sugar Limited-Works and Plantations:-
At Ramisi Estate (Digo District) near Mombasa.
P.O. Box 158, MOMBASA.
Gazi Sisal Estates.
TOBACCO FACTORY at Kakira-(Jinja).
COTTON GINNERIES- (Uganda).
i. Bukoboli 5. Mbulamuti 9. Kabiramaido 13. Chagweri
2. Busowa 6. Kakira o. Pilitoki 14. Batta
3. Bubinga 7. Kabiaza Ii. Amaich 15. Jaber
4. Kamuli 8. Butiru 12. Aboki 16. Kalaki
Ruvu and Kiberege.
Other Plantations totalling about 4000
acres Freehold land.
i. Bukoboli 2. Busowa 3. Bukona 4. Bubinga
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