Who would have thought that I would find Uganda in this forest at this early hour of 6.47AM. Yet there it was. Not the country itself but Warburgia Ugandensis, the tree is that is commonly known as Ugandan Greenheart.
Known in the Kikuyu language as muthiga, this is the tree that the upmarket leafy suburb of Muthaiga is named after. I smiled at its pale green scaly bark as I cycled past it. Then I saw several others in front of me, to my right. It was 6.17AM and I was all alone with the Ugandan greenheart trees. After cycling for ten minutes, I hadn’t met any other fellow human being.
I rounded a corner and saw a bushbuck antelope lingering on the edge of the forest just a meter away from the footpath. It’s ears were alert, its legs poised to flee which is exactly what it did when I came closer. Within moments, it had disappeared into the undergrowth of the forest. Thankfully to my feasting eyes, another one came into view a few meters ahead. This one had horns, which meant that it was a male since the females don’t have horns. Can you imagine if humans were like that! I would be tugging at my right horn as I write this. Thank God He saw it fit to deny Adam a pair of horns even as He bestowed them on bushbuck males. This is fun, I thought. Just me, the Ugandan Greenheart trees, plus other trees whose names I don’t know yet and two bushbuck antelopes. I am in great company, I said to myself as I pedaled on, faster and faster.
Those bushbucks are simply lovely. But because they come and go in a flash, you will be lucky to get a good view of more than a few seconds. If you happen to be walking about aimlessly in the forest, you might see a bushbuck and imagine that it’s a brown goat. But upon closer scrutiny, you will notice that it has more grace and mystery than a good old goat. You will also notice that their bodies are plastered with geometrically shaped white patches or spots.
I arrived at the slope that leads down to the waterfalls and alighted from my bike. A minute later, I was at the small wooden bridge that crosses over Karura River. I should probably call Neza so that she can hear the sound of the river, I thought of my Rwandan friend. Like me, she likes the sound of rivers; the match of ants across a footpath; a lone dew on a lone dry leaf; the jolly chirp of an unseen bird plus all the sights and sounds of nature that can be found in Karura Forest.
As Bwak the Bantu poet said in one of his poems about the forest, ‘even the dry leaves on the footpath will leave your soul wet with joy.’
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