Rays of light shone through the gap in the mountains, illuminating the camp and enveloping it in a warm glow. A young man, just 21, woke from underneath the primitive shelter, the sun’s rays forcing him to shield his eyes with a scarred hand. His face, once full of life, was now devoid of colour due to months under the cruel stare of Mount Kilimanjaro. A warm breeze shook him back to the reality of the real world. He would now begin the long trek back to his village. As his fleet stride carried him back his mind reflected on his past life. Dark memories enveloped him and even darker thoughts contorted his figures. He was destined to be chief and what a great chief he would have been. But his honour once as solid as a bar of iron had been scattered and forgotten like dust in the wind. His own tribe had dissed him.
As the chief of his tribe he was open to challenges, as was custom. He was expected to overcome these challenges boosting his honour. But if he lost then the challenger would become chief. This was now his predicament. Only the tribe’s elder, Zanara, believed in him and had advised him to keep trying. He had argued that he would be shamed again but the elder said “There is nothing more dangerous than an enemy with nothing to lose, which is what you have become”. His sole thought of restoring his honour is what kept the blood in his veins, his heart beating and urged him to take another step.
A trumpet, loud and clear cut across his thoughts. He froze. Again, he heard it. He scanned the horizon and saw a herd of elephants clustered around something. His better instinct told him to continue but his curiosity was just too great. He ran and stopped at a safe distance from the activity. He couldn’t between them so he crept forward and climbed a nearby tree. What he saw both horrified and amazed him. A baby elephant had fallen in some quicksand and the entire herd was gathered around, trying to pull it out. He watched, transfixed, as the calf was pulled up slowly by all members of the herd. The fight was between physics and the sheer will of the herd. Slowly the calf was brought up and into safety. What had seemed like a hopeless endeavour had turned out to save the calf’s life. There was hope. There is always hope for those who seek to find it, who persist. Those who try will succeed.