The months in Leb Lango – the tongue of the Langi – are named after their number in the conventional calendar year. January is ‘Acel’ which is also the word for ‘one’, February is called ‘Ario’ which also means ‘two’, March is ‘Adyek’, ‘three’, etc.
But June is also called ‘Odunge’ which means ‘squeezed’ or ‘tied tightly’. June is the month where people are squeezed, tied: they are hungry. The wet season begins, roughly, in March every year; by June the farmers will have finished their stock of previously harvested produce. They will have neither a lot to eat, nor a lot to sell at the local markets. They feel squeezed by the conditions of their life, their subsistence farming.
‘Odunge’ is a contextual name for June; it makes more sense than the decontextualised ‘Abicel’, ‘six’, which implicitly refers to someone else’s June: the Gregorian calendar year which was adopted by Pope Gregory VIII in 1582 and introduced to Uganda by European missionaries and colonial administrators. The establishment of January as the first month is ultimately an arbitrary idea.
May also has an interesting name, or nick name. It is called ‘Okwang Mak Me Anwong’. In Lwo, these four words constitute a whole sentence: ‘Get Okwang for me so that I can tie him’. Okwang is the name of a person, a Mr Anybody; the month of May therefore is represented by nature or life saying, ‘go and get a person so that I can tie him’ with June being when Okwang is tied.
June this year began promisingly, but for the past one-two weeks there has not been much rainfall. Various crops, particularly the widely planted beans, groundnuts and sesame, are beginning to look thirsty. If another week pass by without rain, these crops may not survive, and June will squeeze the farmers even more.