A Story A Day – The Night of the White A(u)nt

One night in November in rural Uganda, I awake from hearing unusual sounds outside of my window. Sixty-seven children and House of Hope staff are catching something looking like giant flies. The "flies" are flying through the night, gathering especially on the walls of the girls' dormitory and in front of the only outside light. The girls use broomsticks to force the insects into buckets, catching hundreds of them.

The next morning I am enlightened by the kids about the events of last night: white ants! For some reason I misunderstand "aunt" which is confusing, as the children refer to me as "aunt". We laugh at the mistake (and the fact that I am literally the white aunt) especially since some of them have spelled my name "Ant Celia" before.

All over the school grounds are wings of what I later learn to be termites. I still don't know what happened. I then learn that they are considered a delicacy, only appearing a few times every year. I can estimate the amount of white ants that have miraculously appeared over night by the numerous wings covering the ground. While some children are cleaning up, I find the older ones roasting the termites. Doreen and Maria show me their technique of separating the wings from the body in larger quantities, and how to cook them.

If I wasn't vegetarian, I would have probably accepted one of the many offers of termites.

Appartenly, the delicacy of "Ngwen" – the local name for white ants – is a traditional dish of the Acholi, a tribe in Northern Uganda. Due to their nutritional value, they are now popular all over Uganda.

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