In today’s segment of Tourism Memories, I am reminiscing about the day I reconciled with monkeys during one of my frequent trips to Karongi.
There is a cluster of isles that look like floating gardens off the shore of Karongi. Monkey Island, which is home to a handful of monkeys, is one of them. Monkeys love bananas and so do I. They are social animals and the same can be said about me. The list of similarities between them and a homo sapien who is in tune with nature is endless.
The day I discovered Monkey Island, its residents stole my bananas and gave me a negative first impression. Despite our endless similarities, we started off on the wrong foot.
Upon arrival, I left my boat unattended and started strolling around. While doing so, I came across my favorite fruits and reaped what I didn’t sow, literary. When I returned to the boat, my bananas were gone.
I was angry with those little monkeys and felt like strangling them. However, that didn’t prevent me from returning to their island again and again. Each time I dropped by, I picked a few guavas.
I held a grudge against them for a long time. Little did I know that they were also victims of theft and I was the culprit. Unbeknownst to me, I was stealing from them too. The guavas I was harvesting whenever I invaded their territory belong to them. I don’t condone their behavior but I should remove the bean from my own eye before I see the speck in their eyes.
The realization that I am equally guilty made my reaction questionable. I opened my eyes and saw the need to devise a conflict resolution plan. At the end of the day, sharing bananas did the trick.
We finally forgave each other and put our differences behind us. After all, our similarities outweigh the genesis of our dispute.
Before tourism was suspended, following the nationwide lockdown put in place to curb the spread of COVID- 19, I had been visiting Monkey Island frequently. Each time, we would share not only my bananas but also their guavas. Sharing has the power to turn foes into friends. My hosts’ negative vibe had been replaced by a friendly reception. Their hostile facial expressions had turned into warm welcome gestures — their way of saying, "mi casa su casa."
Our beef was a reflection of a tag of war between human beings and wild animals over the control of resources. Members of different communities around the world have always been exploiting wildlife habitat in order to make ends meet. The need to clear forests for agriculture and construction is understandable but unreasonable human interference is detrimental to the long-term viability of the ecosystem.
Historically, man has been hunting in order to put food on the table but recently, a new brood of leisure hunters has emerged. Yes, people have gone as far as killing animals for fun. In other scenarios, wild animals are killed because they prey on livestock and destroy crops. Cases of poaching and illegal export of animals or their body parts are also common.
We need to find a way to coexist and share resources. As superior animals who boast a more advanced cognitive development, it is our responsibility to restore peace and harmony.
Failure to embrace conservation and help nature to endure the havoc we constantly wreak is a threat to the survival of the future generations. We can’t afford to deplete natural resources and biodiversity.
As far as my relationship with the inhabitants of Monkey Island is concerned, selfishness created animosity between us but our newly-found spirit of sharing paved the way for reconciliation.
Monkey Island is not as popular as the neighboring Nyamunini and Amahoro islands. Hikers prefer Nyamunini while picnic enthusiasts frequent Amahoro. Whether you are an avid hiker or a picnic lover, an encounter with monkeys is highly recommended. Remember to pack some bananas.