Sunday, February 21, 2010

When Will The Horse Stop Dancing?




Once upon a time, the Kings of a city called gold had to occupy the city square. The perimeter of the square was adorned with the great fromtomfrom drums draped in the city's colours that depicted blood, riches and food. The king calls the tune, and as the master drummers pounds the cow skin at the head of the drum, the king will dance and dance and dance. The fate of the animals in the city was dependent on how well the king dances. That the animals prosper, go hungry, are healthy or happy depended on the dance. Among the animals were the horse, elephant, tortoise, cockerel, and the dogs.

Twenty-two years after the three- lions was forced to abandon the city, a dog occupied the square. The king like other dogs of war before him had no royal blood but apprehended royalty by shedding blood. They shared the horse's military tradition, but were soon to share the royal destiny, except that the horse was very ruthless in dispatching the dogs before him to the ancestors. One by one three kings and five advisors were forced to swear eternal loyalty to the gun as they faced their nemesis at the stakes close to the Atlantic Ocean. Who born dog?

The horse was not the most intelligent of animals but his shear bravado won him great following and his ruthlessness inspired trepidation among foes and friends alike. The horse's dances became a great source of worry to many. He galloped, he stamped, he screamed and with great tantrums he remonstrated his dissatisfaction with everything but himself. He made war dances even when a new baby is being christened. He danced Atsiagbekor, he danced Adzohu, he danced Takai and he won't stop dancing Gadzo. He soon acquired messianic status among his followers. Even foul invectives spewing without restrain from his mouth became a religious creed. He couldn't do wrong and he considers himself infallible. He tolerated little descent, to the extent that he beat up his own drummers playing to his tune, to instill discipline. Nobody dared tell him he erred; he was larger than life, who born dog?

After years of dancing unchallenged, the horse grudgingly accepted the will of the animals- A dance for a king, two dances no more. The horse anointed the tortoise to take over the mantle from him. The tortoise was a very learned animal by all standards, but the animals preferred the elephant for a king. So the elephant occupied the square and danced, and danced and danced. Unfortunately the horse couldn't watch the elephant dance. 'An elephant cannot dance' he screamed. 'He is too big to move like I did'. The horse stayed outside the square but never stopped courting attention away from the elephant, so as the elephant shook, the horse danced outside the circle. Even the dogs of war I dealt with, who fears an elephant he assured himself. Who born dog?

As he danced outside the square, many of his followers who knew he was dancing amiss refused to call him to order. More intelligent animals in his fold always appeared to rationalize his rants and pants outside the square no matter how nonsensical. The elephant and the elephant's followers screamed at him, but who born dog? So the horse danced and his sages rationalized his actions as the tortoise and others cheered him on to the chagrin of the elephant.

The animals had decreed, 'A dance for a king, two dances no more', so the elephant had to leave the square to be replaced by the tortoise according to the will of the animals expressed in a vote. Many had been worried about the tortoise occupying the square, because he had sworn openly to seek the counsel of the horse by the minute. But the animals this time had called on the tortoise to dance so he must dance and so he danced and danced but alas the horse is still not happy. Ah, did the tortoise forget his oath to seek counsel? Why is he making the horse mad? The horse is still dancing even with the tortoise in the square. The learned tortoise was too intelligent to attempt to take on the horse in fight; it would be the height of folly to attempt such a feat. So he ignored the horse and went on with his dance. But as the tortoise danced, the horse kept dancing even at a more fervent pace. He prophesied doomsday for the tortoise, poured out vituperations at the drummers who beat the tune of the tortoise. 'Your dance moves are too slow Mr. Tortoise', the horse kept shouting. 'Didn't you see how I danced when I had the square?'  The tortoise and the tortoise's advisors are in a fix. 'We followed him to dance in the square, we cheered him to dance outside the square, now we have the square but he won't stop dancing, we have created a monster, the beast within is more difficult to tackle', they pondered over their predicament.

In another mad moment of rage, the horse described the tortoise, who stood a couple of meters away from him, as only fit to take care of dead bodies, what did the tortoise do? He smiled. But the horse won't stop dancing. Now he chided the tortoise, 'you're not man enough to beat your followers as I did mine' 'you think you have a seer that protects you, bring him from the city called Oil and we will teach him about God.' God is angry with you, he will kick you and your undisciplined, insatiable and fatherless followers out of the square and don't think I will ever leave the square with you, I will always be here dancing and kicking and screaming because I am God's gift to the city called Gold and no one deserves the square but me." By the way, the Horse is calling others fatherless, does anyone know his father?

Even the elephant went from being amused to being worried. He called the tortoise and asked the learned tortoise, "How do you watch this un-concerned?" "Do you need a psychiatrist?" The tortoise replied firmly, 'NO, I don't need one'. "Ponko Abo Dam A, Ne Wura No Dze Ommbuo Dam Bi" (to wit a mad horse doesn't determine the owner's sanity). 'Take this from me Mr. elephant, if you jump off a mad horse, you'll be trampled to death'. 'Hold tight until it is tired and has no energy to jump and kick'. 'Gently get off the saddle and walk away to safety when it lies to catch its breath'. 'My horse may be mad , but I am very sane'.



The moral of the story is simple, when you encourage evil because it feasts on your enemy's flesh, after your enemy is consumed, evil feats on your flesh.

I'm curious to know how this story will end if I have to tell it to my grand children many decades to come. When did the horse stop dancing? Will he ever stop dancing?





Disclaimer: this story is not about any animal, four legs or two legs, living or dead. Any resemblance to any event is a mere co-incidence. It isn't meant to create fear or panic so the police need not bother to visit. It is a story, told the way our grandmothers taught us, to keep the story telling tradition alive.

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