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Predator or Protector? Man or Manimal?

April 29, 2014

A couple of weeks ago I saw a clip on YouTube that was quite interesting. A Lioness was hunting and came upon a female ape. Unfortunately and as expected, the ape was no match for the ape and as a result, she became lunch for the Lioness and her family.  Sadly though, the ape had just given birth (hence her being slow and not being able to get away from the Lioness in time) and her young one was somewhere hidden inside a hole that was in a nearby tree.

Oblivious of what was happening around her, the baby ape struggled to get out of the hole until she finally did. The most interesting thing is that even though I expected the Lioness to take the baby ape and probably have her for dessert or breakfast the next morning, instead the fierce feline decided to protect the young ape and started treating her like she would her own cabs.

I don’t know what was going on in the Lioness’ mind but it’s like she was regretting having killed the baby’s mother and was trying to make up for her actions. In fact, she even went a step further to protect her from other predators who wanted to kill her. I don’t know how long this would have gone on but eventually, the father ape rescued his child and took her to safety.  It was a touching scene to watch especially when you consider that the Lioness could have very easily killed the baby ape. Instead, predator turned protector in a very unusual way.

This is not the first time something like this has happened, where one animal decides to protect or even adopt another animal from a very unlikely and different species from his/her own. For instance, I know of a dog that “adopted” a squirrel and even let the squirrel nurse together with her pups. I’ve read about a tiger that adopted two piglets and protected them fiercely until they were old enough to be on their own. I remember sometime in 2010 somewhere in Kenya, a Lioness adopted a baby antelope and later other animals from other species. These are just a few examples and as the world continues to rotate around its axis, I am almost certain we shall be hearing or seeing many more animals of this nature.

Looking at headlines from different parts of the world, a day never goes by before you see something like “man beats his wife to death”, or “man kills his wife and two children, then kills himself” or, “one found dead and two others injured in a carjacking” or “explosion in church as faithfuls attended church service”, etc. I am almost certain if we were to go back to the archives to find out how many incidents of this nature there has been in this region since the beginning of the year there would be many. What a contrast to the animals I mentioned above. Sad to say, it seems like, “unyama umewahama wanyama umewaingia wanadamu”.  In other words, man is no longer man but instead he has become a manimal.

Yes, people have become so beastly that killing is no longer an exception but sadly, it’s now become the norm. How many times have we heard of victims of “tindikali”? How many times have we heard of “sudden death” or death due to a “short illness”? I know am beginning to sound like a conspiracy theorist but the truth is, some things that have been happening in the world lately are more than a coincidence. They are the actions of MANIMALS living with us right here in society.

Of course physical death is extreme but the truth is, there are many other people who are walking dead. Due to one reason or another, their spirits have been shuttered so much that they no longer have a zest or zeal for life. They no longer live life but the survive life. Yes, we live among such people and they live among us and if we are not careful, we could be the very reason why they are the way they are.

Take an example of an office setup. You are the director of organization XYZ Limited. One of your best employees who has been working with you for the last 5 years gets an opportunity of a lifetime. Since he is straight forward and very loyal, he feels compelled to share his good news with you for two reasons;

  1. He sees you as his mentor and so wants to know what you think of that opportunity.
  2. Even before he talks to you, he already knows that it is an amazing opportunity for his career to grow and for him to gain great exposure, and so he is already decided to leave.

However, he wants to make sure that before he leaves, he has left someone else to fill his shoes so that whatever it was he was doing still continues to be done and no lapse is caused by his absence. In short, his intensions are very noble.

Deep down your heart, even you know it is an amazing opportunity and if this employee were your son, you would definitely advice him to take it up.  Unfortunately the “manimal” in you takes over and instead of giving him the right advice, you start treating him like an enemy, maligning his name and before long, the company that had offered him this opportunity gets wind of the negative feedback and retracts the offer given to the young man. What do you expect will happen to this young man thereafter? Did you do yourself a favor by spoiling his opportunity for him? The truth is, you just participated in breaking someone’s spirit and even though you did not physical kill him, something in him has died. Though he may continue working for you (which is highly unlikely), his output will never be the same again. He will never see you as his mentor and you instantly become his tormentor. Was it really worth it for you to do that?

“Killing” people happens in many other areas of our lives. Not just in the office setup.  The same scenario above can be replicated in our families, where we have siblings rivaling against each other, jealousy and envy taking the best of couples, family feuds fuelled by material things causing major irreparable rifts that carry on to generations to come, etc. The truth is, we no longer have to fear that wild animals will kill us. We are living with another species of animals right among us, a species I’d like to called the domesticated manimal. Sadly though, this has become a certified Man-Eat-Man society, whose motivation is personal gain. Is there a solution to this problem? I believe there is, but it has to start with you.

I wish we would change our minds. I wish we would stop seeing each other as threats but instead see each other as team players playing for the same team. Like John Holmes said, there is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up”. Instead of working towards the downfall of others, use your energy helping others get a foothold on this mountain called life. Life is hard and tough enough on its own without having other people who should have been helping you go through it making it even harder for you.

It is my prayer that this week we shall be more compassionate and kind to each other. I pray that this week we shall be ready and willing to do something positive for someone who can never repay you. Like Charles Dickens said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another”.

My question to you this week is, are you useless or useful? Your actions this week will determine the answer to this question.

Wishing you all a useful week ahead.

PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 27th April, 2014, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".




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