A Ugandan friend named John Bosco (JB) recently asked if I was hungry. I found this a little strange, particularly considering that we had just eaten. Then I found out the reason for his enquiry – I had yawned! I thought this was unusual until I visited neighbouring Rwanda a few days later. Again I was spotted yawning and was offered food!
Whereas it is a sign of tiredness for us in the UK, yawning is apparently evidence of hunger in this part of the world. I always thought it was an automatic act, but then it got me thinking – is it actually a learned response? In other words, do we pick up at a young age that we yawn when we are tired, or in the case of Ugandans, hungry? I don’t believe so as young babies often yawn…
Anyway, I said to JB that if Ugandans yawn when they are hungry, what do they do when they are tired? His answer was brief, and in hindsight obvious. “We sleep.”