/ 3 November 2008

A cow called Obama

There are so many T-shirts and home made ”I support Obama” badges being sold on the busy streets of Kampala, it’s no longer newsworthy. I have also heard of newborn babies in Kenya being baptised Obama. However, I had never seen a cow named Obama until I visited a village called Rwanyampazi.

It’s a cool Thursday afternoon in late October and I’ve just arrived in Rwanyampazi on an assignment to cover a wetlands conservation story. Rwanyampazi is in the south-western district of Mbarara, about 300km from the capital. What, I wondered, do rural people think of Obama – if they’ve ever heard of him.

Farmer Kamugabirwe Anita set me straight. She told me she ”had” Obama – which I thought meant she had a picture of him on a T-shirt. But when Anita took me down into the valley to show me how she is reclaiming a wetland, she pointed to a brown and white Friesian cow and said, ”she is called Obama”.

”Why on earth would you call a cow after Obama?” I asked her.

”Because I like this cow so much,” she shot back. ”Anyway, this cow reminds me of Barack Obama.”

Anita thought for a couple of seconds while Obama chewed the grass. ”Obama is black like me, so maybe he’ll respect us black people …

”Actually he is an African since his father was born just across from us in Kenya. He can maybe help us get aid and develop our country when he wins. My whole family are crazy about him.”

So much so that Anita’s brother, a school teacher in the district, named his new son, born on July 20, Obama.

In Mbarara I meet Mukombozi Lauben. Obama, he told me, is big talk in his home village in Kiruhura district. Kiruhura is full of farmers, so I asked him if he’d ever heard of an animal being called Obama. Lauben laughed. ”My father calls his long- horned Ankole bull Obama.”

Fredrick Mugira is a journalist with Radio West FM. He also reports for Africanews.com


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