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Scorpion ants

January 1, 2013

We decided this morning that, after a few hours talk-writing for a conference next week, we’d go out with the boys for a picnic lunch amongst the trees (but still on the college site) about 200m from our house

Ros, bless her, diligently made some coleslaw and boiled some eggs whilst I went out and brought some chapattis’ from the street vendors outside.

It was nice. Genuinely. But two things made it difficult:

  1. We are the only white folks for a few miles around, and still, even after 14 months, quite a unique sight for most round here. The college site is open to the public (we have a free-for-all water-well on site) and so the sight of two white adults, with two white kids, was too much for many and we had a number of kids decide that we were great entertainment and decided to sit and watch us eat.

Sometimes when this happens I chase them away whilst explaining to them about (my Western views of) the fundamental human right for privacy. However I was feeling more charitable today, so let them watch, trying to understand that, for these folk, we are genuinely a spectacle.

  1. At that point we very much became a spectacle. Daniel trotted off a couple of metres to pick up a stick. As we were tucking in to some food he suddenly started screaming. We looked up to see the poor little dude swarming with ants all over his feet, legs, and waist. Not just little benign ants, but fat, red ones with pincers like crabs. I call them scorpion ants. And boy do they hurt when they bite.

We leapt up and stripped him, and, getting bitten ourselves, managed to move him off the ants nest that we suddenly realised he was standing in. For the next 15 minutes we one by one removed the ants (dug in deep with their jaws) from his legs and clothes and pacified him with a chapatti. Anyway Danny is a brave little soul (and is used to bites from assorted Ugandan bug life) and is fine, albeit with lots of little red marks all over him.

All told we decided the picnic was a qualified success, and worth attempting again another day. And next time, I imagine, word will have got round about the dancing, shouting, stripping, jumping white picnic-eaters in Namugongo, and the little crowd will have grown a bit.

And frankly, who can blame them?

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One Comment
  1. Leni permalink

    Great story!! We had those red ants swarm our house a few times a year in Jamaica. Not fun at all! They do pinch you like a crab πŸ™‚

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