The Jumbos


I  am  four years old again and a herd of elephants has  crossed over the stream. The screams and shouts of the villagers wake me up from my sleep, and I can smell old car tyres burning. The villagers descend upon the jumbos, singing, yelling as if in a trance but keep a safe distance away from them.

My dad rises from his sleep in bid to show solidarity with his fellow comrades and tells us to shut the door. My heart is pounding like the West African drums and sleep evades me until my dad comes back. Until then do I sleep.

This time my friend is driving to my grandmas and around the corner a herd of thirty or so are crossing the road, taking their time. Elephants generally don.t like the smell of petrol or diesel, but the least thing you want is to antagonize them. They are massive animals but can run so fast you don’t want to test them especially if they have kids.

This elephants have so many calves and my aunt who is visiting us from Denmark is screaming her lungs out.Although elephants can hear from miles away, they don’t mind us. The grass is too green and the family bonding too nice from them to care.

Funny enough, a gray-haired, sunburnt mzungu(white man) is taking snaps of the wonderful scenery. He’s on the tarmac, with no bicycle let alone a car and I wonder what he is thinking. Inasmuch as i love elephants, I would  not get that close. I can tell how far elephants are or how long they were in a place by their dung.

On this slopy mountainous land, covered with  dense forest and lush green grass, lies tales of people and animal conflict. The people and the elephants have both evolved as to how to react to each others behaviours. For example the jumbos have learnt how to bend two electric post such that one bends on opposite sides giving easy entry. The people have learnt that using a spotlight on the jumbos only makes them approach you. This is due conditioned reflex mechanism; at the Mt. Kenya national park, jumbos relate electricity or light with food.

Luckily for us, our driver is knowledgeable and we ease our way out of the herd each of us sighing, catching our breaths and feeling relieved. I wonder what will happen to the mzungu but sweetpotatoes await at grandma’s.














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