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The Gentlemen of the Jungle
In the late nineteenth century, the chief European powers divided Africa among themselves. They could do this because European arms were superior and because the African chiefs did not understand the meaning of the treaties they were asked to sign.
As a result, Africans lost the lands they had traditionally lived on and cultivated. Their attitude toward European “expansion” is made clear in the following fable, which reflects the attitude of the Kikuyu people of Kenya toward European laws and commissions.
Once upon a time, an elephant made a friendship with a man. One day a heavy thunderstorm broke out, the elephant went to his friend, who had a little hut at the edge of the forest, and said to him: “My dear good man, will you please let me put my trunk inside your hut to keep it out of this torrential rain?”
The man, seeing what situation his friend was in, replied: “My dear good elephant, my hut is very small, but there is room for your trunk and myself. Please put your trunk in gently.” The elephant thanked his friend, saying: “You have done me a good deed, and one day I shall return your kindness.”
But what followed? As soon as the elephant put his trunk inside the hut, slowly he pushed his head inside, and finally flung the man out in the rain, and then lay down comfortably inside his friend’s hut, saying: “My dear good friend, your skin is harder than mine, and as there is not enough room for both of us, you can afford to remain in the rain while I am protecting my delicate skin from the hailstorm.”
The man, seeing what his friend had done to him, started to grumble, the animals in the nearby forest heard the noise and came to see what was the matter.
All stood around listening to the heated argument between the man and his friend, the elephant. In this turmoil, the lion came along a roaring, and said in a loud voice:
“Don’t you all know that I am the King of the Jungle! How dare anyone to disturb the peace of my kingdom?” On hearing this the elephant, who was one of the high ministers in the jungle kingdom, replied in a soothing voice, and said: “My Lord, there is no disturbance of the peace in your kingdom.
I have only been having a little discussion with my friend here as to the possession of this little hut which your lordship sees me occupying.” ”The lion, who wanted to have “peace and tranquility” in his kingdom, replied in a noble voice, saying: “I command my ministers to appoint a Commission of Enquiry to go thoroughly into this matter and report accordingly.” He then turned to the man and said:
“You have done well by establishing a friendship with my people, especially with the elephant who is one of my honorable ministers of state. Do not grumble anymore, your hut is not lost to you. Wait until the sitting of my Imperial Commission, and there you will be given plenty of opportunity to state your case.
I am sure that you will be pleased with the findings of the Commission.” The man was very pleased by these sweet words from the King of the Jungle and innocently waited for his opportunity, in the belief that naturally the hut would be returned to him. The elephant, obeying the command of his master, got busy with other ministers to appoint the Commission of Enquiry.
The following elders of the jungle were appointed to sit in the Commission: (1) Mr. Rhinoceros; (2) Mr. Buffalo; (3) Mr. Alligator; (4) The Rt. Hon. Mr. Fox to act as chairman; and (5) Mr. Leopard to act as Secretary to the Commission.
On seeing the personnel, the man protested and asked if it was not necessary to include in this Commission a member from his side. But he was told that it was impossible since no one from his side was well enough educated to understand the intricacy of jungle law.
Further, there was nothing to fear, for the members of the Commission were all men of repute for their impartiality in justice, and as they were gentlemen chosen by God to look after the interest of race less adequately endowed with teeth and claws, he might rest assured that they would investigate the matter with the greatest care and report impartially.
The Commission sat to take the evidence. The Rt. Hon. Mr. Elephant was first called. He came along with a superior air, brushing his tusks with a sapling that Mrs. Elephant had provided, and in an authoritative voice said:” Gentlemen of the Jungle, there is no need for me to waste your valuable time in relating a story which I am sure you all know.
I have always regarded it as my duty to protect the interests of my friends, and this appears to have caused the misunderstanding between myself and my friend here. He invited me to save his hut from being blown away by a hurricane.
As the hurricane had gained access owing to the unoccupied space in the hut, I considered it necessary, in my friend’s own interest, to turn the undeveloped space to a more economic use by sitting in it myself; a duty which any of you would undoubtedly have performed with equal readiness in similar circumstances.”
|No. of Pages||150|
|PDF Size||32.5 MB|
The Gentlemen of the Jungle Book PDF Free Download