Once, long ago three tigers came to Africa. They went to the country
of the animals and made this terrible announcement.
"From now on, this land will be ruled by the Tigers. We are,
after all, the strongest, fastest and wisest of all animals. Therefore, we are the only fit
rulers." they claimed.
A little mouse spoke up from the crowd, " But we have a council
where we make our decisions together, we don't need or want any ruler."
One of the tigers let out a roar so loud and fierce that the poor
mouse started running and didn't stop until he was in the land of the humans.
To this day, he lives in the houses of humans. Her cousin, the field mouse misses
The other animals didn't like the idea much either, but they looked
at those tigers' big claws and sharp teeth and were afraid to speak. These tigers were
even bigger than the lion.
"We will collect taxes and we'll also change the name of this
country. From now on, this will be Tigerland and you will call yourselves
servants of the tigers." they said.
Finally, Anansi spoke. "Great tigers, it is clear that you
are strong, fast and wise, but just so that everyone will know for sure
that you are stronger, faster and wiser than anyone else, let us have a
contest." Anansi suggested.
The tigers liked the idea, so Anansi continued. "Let us prepare
ourselves, then tomorrow we will choose someone to compete against each of you."
So the tigers left and the animals held a private meeting to discuss
what to do.
The next morning, the animals were ready. The tigers came to the
council circle. The strongest tiger spoke first. "Who will compete against me?"
"I will." said the tiny voice of the field mouse.
The tiger laughed until he cried. "This will not take long."
"Who will race me?" roared the swiftest tiger.
"I will." said the tortoise.
"This is no contest at all!" shouted the tigers.
Hare told the third tiger, " I must bring you to the home of
the owl. She is the wisest of all creatures."
"We will see," said the tiger.
First was the contest of strength. The field mouse brought the tiger
to a large clearing.
They each stood at one edge of the clearing with one end of a rope.
Between them was placed hundreds of big thorn bushes. When she gave a signal of two
short tugs on the rope, the tiger was to start pulling. The loser would get dragged
across the thorns.
The tiger laughed at the little mouse and said that he was ready.
She gave the signal, and the tiger began to pull. What he didn't know was that behind the
field mouse, standing in the forest was a great bull elephant holding onto the rope. So while
the tiger pulled on one end, the elephant pulled on the other. The tiger got dragged
all the way through the thorn bushes yelling, " Ouch! OOOCH! Ouch! Ouch!" all
"If this is how strong the mice are, I would hate to see what
the other animals can do!" he shouted.
Next was the race. The tortoise brought the fastest tiger to a five-mile
stretch of road in the forest. At each mile marker, one of tortoise's cousins was hiding.
(To the tiger they would all look alike.)
When the race began, Tiger went zooming away, leaving the tortoise
in his dust. As he was coming to the first mile marker, the tiger was laughing to himself.
"How could a tortoise think he could outrun me?" he said.
Just then, Tortoise came out from his hiding place behind the mile
"What took you so long, Mr. Tiger?" he asked politely.
Tiger was shocked. "How did you get here so fast?!" he
Tortoise didn't answer. He just slowly plodded off toward the next
marker. The tiger zoomed past him and ran at top speed to the second mile-marker,
only to find Tortoise sitting there waiting.
"I really thought tigers were faster than this." he said,
sounding very disappointed.
"I'll beat you yet!" shouted the tiger as he sped to the
next marker. At this third marker, Tortoise was sitting down playing a game of
Mankala with Anansi and laughing about how easy the race was. Tiger couldn't
believe his eyes.
At the fourth marker, Tortoise was asleep, snoring loudly. Tiger
sped by him so fast that he left the tortoise spinning like a top.
Finally, tiger was racing toward the finish line. Tortoise was nowhere
in sight. Tiger was running at full speed. Nothing could stop him now. Yet, as he got
closer to the line, he noticed a little round thing sitting there. It must be a rock he
told himself. But as he got closer, he saw that little head and those four little legs
and he knew. Tortoise was already there!
"It's impossible!" he screamed. But no matter how much he
screamed, it didn't change the fact that Tortoise had won the race.
Now the hare was bringing the third tiger to the home of the wise old owl. But the hare
kept complaining of stomach pains and said that he couldn't walk very well.
"Can't you get someone else to show me the way?" said
the tiger angrily.
"I'm the only one who knows the way," whispered Hare,
"It's a secret."
Tiger was irritated. " Then you'll just have to ride on my
back," he said.
They rode on for a little while, but the hare kept letting himself
slide off the tiger's back, so they weren't making much progress.
"If you bring me to my house, I can get my saddle." Hare
suggested, "That way, I won't slip off." So the tiger brought the
hare home and let Hare put a saddle on him.
"And if you let me use these reins," Hare continued, "I
can steer you left or right without talking so much. I have a sore throat you know."
Tiger agreed. Then the hare went into his house and came out wearing spurs
and carrying a whip.
"Wait a minute!" said Tiger, "What's all that for?!"
"Oh I just wear these spurs for show." Hare said. "
And the whip is so I can keep the flies off you while you're giving me a ride."
"Okay," said the tiger, "But be careful."
So they rode on, but not to the owl's home. They went right to the council circle.
All the other animals were gathered there. When Hare came in sight of the
other animals, he dug his spurs into the tiger's sides and snapped that whip against the
tiger's backside and yelled "GITTY UP HORSEY!"
That tiger went jumping and howling through the crowd looking about as foolish as a
fool can look. All the animals laughed and laughed. The other tigers were so embarrassed
that they pleaded with the hare to stop.
The hare got off the tiger's back and took his saddle and reins. Those tigers agreed
never to come back to Africa again. That's why, to this day, there are
no tigers in the forests of Africa.
And everyone got along fine in the land of animals with everyone as equals, no kings,
no queens, no rulers.
KUJICHAGULIA — Self-Determination