We have let the grass grow in our compound, it encourages the butterflies, bees, frogs and crickets.
To us it is rather attractive, to our Ugandan colleagues this is very bad behaviour, we have let the garden grow ‘bushy’ i.e. return to the original bush from which it came.
They have told us off soundly; our post-Romantic sensibilities find the long grass, the flowers, the lack of order very appealing, to Ugandans it shows laziness and moral turpitude.
We have seen something of this on our visits, for example on a recent trip to a college at Nile Valley.
We were shown a vast and beautiful swampy area, full of wildlife, flowers and interest. You can see me standing with the Village Elders, the Director of the College and his Principal.
Notice the blue folder one of them is holding in his hand. This is a proposal to turn the swamp into a 10 hectare fish farm, it will bring vital employment, training and income to a very deprived locality. Even if the proposal foundered, all of the people here agreed that the land was currently a mess and needed clearing. They (like many country dwellers I have met the world over) found our enthusing over its disorder and beauty rather puzzling, and couldn’t really understand why we wanted to know the names of the birds that were calling across the wild.
In common with our garden, the swamp needed slashing. This is when a youth with a three and a half foot long sword/ machete with a right angle turn at the end swings the blade across the vegetation to cut it back to the quick. He will of course be wearing safety flip flops.