courtesy of Mercyjohnson.com
A replica of the fairy tale, The Jungle Book, Robert Mayanja has since been rehabilitated among humans, but still has tendencies of the animal he was raised to be.
He strains his legs as he walks, with his mouth full of grass. His tongue hangs out as he constantly moves from place to place, looking for privacy. He is short with small feet. It is his wrinkled mature face that shows his estimated age.
As I stretch my hand to greet him, he forcefully reaches for me; with wild gestures and moves that make me freeze in utter shock, before instinctively jumping away. But that does not deter Mayanja from following me.
“Do not run, he just wants to hug you. It is his way of greeting and showing love to people. Robert greets with the language he knows best, which is a powerful hug,” Monica Angeyo, the director of L’Arche, where Mayanja lives, explains.
L’Arche is an NGO in Busega, Kampala, which took on the boy who was rescued from the jungle over 20 years ago. It offers physiotherapy and occupational therapy to mentally handicapped children and young adults.
Mayanja was raised by monkeys until he was six years old. His story dates back to the early 1980s, during the civil unrest at that time. Except for his birthplace, known to be Luwero, nothing more is known about Mayanja’s birthday, parents and early childhood.
The only available history starts when soldiers of the National Resistance Army found him in a forest in 1985, with a pack of monkeys.
It is believed that his parents were killed in 1982 during the war and the boy was abandoned in the forest. He was believed to be about three years old when he was left alone and lived in the wild for another three years.
As the soldiers roamed about the bushes, they spotted what looked unmistakably like a human being among the monkeys. They had to disperse the monkeys in order to rescue the boy, but it was a struggle because the monkeys put up a fight.
One adult female monkey held Mayanja tightly to her bosom in an attempt to protect him.
Angeyo says according to reports from those who rescued him, while in the wild, Mayanja survived on fruits, berries and roots and learnt all the mannerisms of the monkeys that adopted him.
When he was found, he could not sit or stand, but only squat and jump. He neither smiled nor talked, but made jungle noises, which quickly got him a new name — Monkey Boy.
In the beginning, it was a struggle to take him through the bathroom procedure, but now it is his favourite activity. Though he cannot dress himself, he voluntarily lifts his legs in turn to wear trousers and stretches out his hands for the shirt.
He does not know where to keep his clothes, though. He is pictured right with other members of the L’Arche community.
Mayanja joined L’Arche community on July 5, 1991. He was about 12 years old. Since the date of his birth was uncertain, L’Arche Community created one for him, which is July 5.
His birthday is celebrated every year and Mayanja probably knows it as the day he gets to wear nice clothes.
Courtesy of MercyJohnson.com