Mzungu Memoirs

Security, African Style

In the States, you might or might not have a home security system.  And if you do, it is probably monitored off-site by a company like ADT, Brinks or First Alert.

Here in Uganda, particularly because we are mzungus, we definitely have a security system.  Since we are white and very much the minority, we have a tendency to stand out and thus become targets for thieves and scam artists.  But we don’t have a home security system or company to monitor it.  The security systems here are a little more personal and come in the form of human guards, guard dogs or, in our case, both.

We actually share our guards with our neighbor, Maggie McNeil, who also works with eMi and was very instrumental in preparing our house for our arrival.  There is a door in the wall between our compounds through which the guards can pass.  We have two day guards, one on the weekdays and one on the weekends, a night guard and three guard dogs that are as much pets as they are part of the security system.  They mostly just “work” at night.

Jackson (on the right) is our weekday day guard.  He is very sweet and mild mannered.  He is also a very hard worker.  He has done everything for us from planting our bougainvillea to playing toss the football with Caleb.  He seems genuinely fond of Caleb, although he may never have seen a football before Caleb brought his.

Ali (on the left) is our weekend day guard and sometimes fills in as night guard as well.  He is eager enough to please when asked, but has a tendency to go and hide so that he won’t be asked.  He loves to sit and visit and will talk your ear off if you give him the chance.

Samuel (pronounced sam-well) is our night guard.  He was the first person we met when we arrived at our new home as he was the one to open the gate for us.  Apparently, he is a pretty mean rummy player.  He’s got a photographic memory of the cards that have been played and by whom.

And now meet our guard dogs.

The big one on the left is Simba.  He can be pretty loud and he seems pretty intimidating when you meet him on a dark path, but mostly he is all bark I think.  Give him a good head rub and he’ll be your friend for life, once you’ve been properly introduced of course.

The medium one on the right is Tiger.  She also happens to be Simba’s mother.  I haven’t quite figured out the size difference, but there it is.  Tiger was a street dog that Maggie rescued.  You really have to watch her because if she gets loose, she will be gone for days checking out all her old haunts.  She is also the ring leader of the three.  Don’t let her size fool you.

And the puppy is Siraf (in the picture by himself), a recent rescue from the streets.  He is already showing signs of a good protective guard dog, but mostly he just wants to play.  He is the only one of the three that is allowed off his chain during the day, and he sometimes likes to pay us visits mostly just to nip at our heels and steal our shoes.

When we first got here, Maggie would leave the door in the wall open so the dogs had free reign to run back and forth.  Apparently, they really like our yard as that is where they would spend most of the night barking at the passing cars and people.  And they are quite loud, especially when they are all three barking.  Some nights I felt like they are running laps around the house.

This week we have tried a new tactic.  Maggie gets Tiger and Siraf on her side, and we get Simba with the door closed between.  We feel that it is a much better arrangement.  It is definitely quieter at least.  I’m not sure Simba is too fond of the plan, though.  I think he gets a little lonely all by himself.

“May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” Psalms 122:7

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