It is the anticipation of food that makes children go through it. Many of them don’t like this part of the preparation: holding the animal and keeping it alive. Till an adult can light a fire or decide it is time to eat. The experienced ones play with the animal with a smile on their faces. The nervous ones get overwhelmed by fear or unease—the kind when an animal, alive and wriggly, crawls up and down your body.
After the fire is lit, an adult grabs the animal, kills, guts and skewers it on a twig before roasting it. The burnt skin is scraped off, and children tear through the meat. Or whoever can, does. One child takes small bites. There isn’t much meat—rats hardly have much meat on them—so everyone has to savour each bite.
One BBC journalist describes the meat as “roast chicken”. “When the rat is