OpEd, Politics

Gender in the bush

By Joseph Ring Lang



(From the folklore stories of the Jieng/or Dinka)

It is related that on a certain date during unrecorded year, a lion and a lioness were roaming in the Savannah bush – half hungry. While moving they reached near a spot where the bush lane separate into two lanes. They then stumbled upon a very sturdy and fiercely looking two legged animal (that’s the name the four legged animal call the human beings) coming from the left lane towards their direction. The man was carrying spears on his shoulder and holding those spears tight with one hand and carrying a big stick on the other hand. They all starred towards each other and none of the animal species made any sign of aggression towards the other.

Subsequently, the lion and the lioness stepped aside from the bush lane and allowed the man to pass. On the side of the man, ‘his carry over knowledge’ made him by instinct not to move an inch away from the lane because it would automatically give a signal to the four-legged animals the impression that the man was in a state of fear – which would be a clear signal for them to be aggressive and attack.

The man did not look back, but his ears were concentrating on possible footsteps of the four-legged animals that might be following him. The incident passed peacefully with no belligerence towards each other. The four-legged animals turned to the right lane because they suspected that there could be more tow legged animal following the first one. They decided to choose the right-side lane to unknown destination.

The lion and the lioness then reach a clearance where the trees were sparsely spread. They then approached a lonely homestead erected with mud walls and cone roof assembled with grass. The lion explored the contents inside the hut with its paws and caught something and threw it behind to the lioness without even looking.

The lioness realized that it was a female, two-legged animal. The woman was shivering from fear. The lioness shifted her gaze from the frightened two-legged animal. The lioness gave a signal by raising its paws to and fro without looking towards the two-legged animal as a hint for her to run away. The female, two-legged animal got the message and ran ‘as fast as her feet could ferry her’. A little before reaching the end of the thick bush, she was told to stop by some men who were chatting and asked the reason why she was running.

She quickly related the ordeal after calming down. Told them that she was caught by a lion that threw her to the lioness and the lioness gave her a signal to run away, all the men burst into laughter, saying that is impossible. It had never happened before.

Later, when the woman reached the village, she related her affliction to the other women who also burst out laughing like the men. They told her to stop lying. Yet there were some women among them saying she had never lied before, and the story could be true. But the majority of the women refused to accept her story.

Some distance away, where the incident occurred, the lion then turned to the lioness while moving away – what happened to that substance I threw to you? The lioness replied I threw it away. Why did you throw away our food – the lion asked? It was not useful to us the lioness replied. The lion still insisted and said but that thing was soft. The lioness replied, it was a skin of a goat. If you want to prove it, go back to that lonely homestead but I will not follow you. It is very likely that you could meet that type of fiercely looking two legged animal we had encountered before and both of us were afraid of him. The lion grumbled in his heart that the lioness had let him down and both of them might spend days without finding food.

The folklore debate continued

Who was on the correct side of history? Was it the lion that caught the woman and threw her to the lioness as a ready food for them? Or was it the lioness that applied the gender element by allowing the woman to escape because both of them were afraid of that fiercely looking two legged animal that was carrying a very sharp and dangerous weapons – and that could have been a nice meal for them? The rest is left to the individual reader’s imagination to give the correct answer.

The author Joseph Ring Lang, can be reached on  josephlang2020@gmail.com,langjr2002@yahoo.com




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