Wednesday, 1 March 2017
THE DRIPPING BREASTS (AMABERE GA NYINAMWIRU)
Way back in high school I had friend who came from the western region of Kabarole district and this guy used to talk about "the dripping breasts" he told me all sorts of legendary stories about their existence (amabere ga nyina mwiru) which I term as dripping breasts just to give you a direct translation in English , the famous stalagmites and stalactites that look like cow breasts.
A stalagmite is a type of rock formation that rises from the floor of a cave due to the accumulation of material deposited on the floor from ceiling drippings. Stalagmites may be composed of amberat,lava, minerals , mud, peat, pitch , sand, and sinter. Stalagmite should normally not be touched: Since the rock build up is formed by minerals solidifying out of the water solution onto the old surface, skin oils can disturb where the mineral water will cling, thus affecting the growth of the formation. Oils and dirt from the hands can also stain the formation and change its colour permanently. The myth surrounding the caves is that they were named after Nyinamwiru a daughter of Bukuku one of the ancient rulers of the Batembuzi Dynasty of the current Toro and Bunyoro Kingdoms. She was a proud attractive girl who refused to marry the man her father had chosen her. As a result she was punished by cutting off her breasts which later are assumed to have grown into these scenic rocks with a dripping white liquid assumed to be milk. Later when I was done with studies during the festives we decided to go visit the nature sights and I remembered these "dripping breasts "and decided to pay a visit and probably squeeze one like a cows udder, I thought to myself. The steaming sound of waterfalls welcomes you at the entrance. The huge falls dictate the moisture content of the atmosphere around the caves. At the entrance to the caves, the slippery path guides you through as you penetrate into a cool green world of moss and fern covered by trees and rocks. Indeed my friends stories had become a reality.One of the guide told us not to touch them for this would affect their growth,“You see this milky stuff, it is calcium oozing through the rocks because of the water falls above us that rolls over the rocks forming these breast like rocks, the size keeps on growing with years until one arm touches the ground to make a strong pillar” he explained. What the guide was talking about are the overhanging climbers intertwined with rocks that surround this cultural and eco-tourism site. Hanging rock pillars broken down by chemical reaction between water and salt in the course of years that form breast-like pointed small pillars from which the name Amabere comes from. Inside the caves, lies a huge flat cave roof basement dotted with water drops splashing as if rain is drizzling.Stalagmite should normally not be touched: Since the rock build up is formed by minerals solidifying out of the water solution onto the old surface, skin oils can disturb where the mineral water will cling, thus affecting the growth of the formation. Oils and dirt from the hands can also stain the formation and change its colour permanently.Similar structures can also form in lava tubes, known as lavacicles, although the mechanism of formation is very different. Stalactites and stalagmites can also form on concrete ceilings and floors, although they form much more rapidly there than in the natural cave environment.The largest stalagmite in the world is 62.2 metres (220 feet) high and is located in the cave of Cueva San Martin Infierno, Cuba.
The growth rates of stalagmites is so slow that once broken, they cannot recover during a human life span. Thus, stalactites and stalagmites are considered natural heritages and are protected by law in most countries, and their collection, mining, and selling is prohibited.