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Making Allies: The Tale of the Pygmy Slaughter

Updated on March 14, 2013

The Masai Tribe was led by Chief Kapalei, a young warrior with wisdom far beyond his years. As he led them through an unexplored territory, they stumbled upon a tribe of Pygmys. Many of the men laughed and began to poke fun at their stature, but Kapalei ordered them to stop.

‘Stature is not measured by height, but by depth’ he reminded them.

The warriors fell silent, and later scoffed at them behind his back.

‘These people are of no use to us,’ they complained, ‘they're surely useless in battle, and they hunt like cowards, hanging nets from the trees. Even their streams are small, with no fish to be found. We should kill them and take whatever tiny herds of cattle they might have.’

But no matter what they said in front of him or behind, Chief Kapalei refused to allow them to hurt the Pygmys, and befriended their Chief.


Early the next morning Chief Kapalei gathered 7 of his strongest hunters and sent them out to kill game to dry for the trip home.

‘Bring us meat and report on the depth of the river you find.’

They responded eagerly, then scowled as the Chief explained that they would be accompanied by a group of the Pygmys.

So they set off into the bush with the orders of their Chief stinging their ears. Once out of earshot, they chased away the Pygmy hunters, laughing at how they ran.

Brandishing their spears, they began to hunt in earnest, scanning the forest for their prey.

As they hunted, they saw unfamiliar plants and smelled unfamiliar smells.

The birds sang differently here, and there were many craters in the ground, as if something had pulled entire trees out of the ground.

The men began whispering amongst themselves, and had decided to return to the village when a colossal creature burst into the clearing, crushing trees and hurtling massive limbs. The strongest of the hunters was lifted into the air and flung across the clearing like a doll, and they hid quickly behind a fallen tree. The bull elephant raged around the clearing, searching for the men, and they motioned to each other frantically. Their minds whirled trying to think of an escape route.


Then from the brush, a shadow darted behind the elephant, then another, and another. The hunters squinted their eyes to see the demons that had followed the elephant, and they watched as the shadows darted underneath the elephant, then into the forest again. The creature was crashing blindly through the jungle now, enraged at the new intrusion. The Masai hunters took this chance to run back to the village.

As they told their story of the bull elephant and the demons, Chief Kapalei shook his head and the Pygmy Chief smiled.

Chief Kapalei explained:

‘The meat that you smell as it cooks on the fire is the elephant you found, and your demons are here with it.’

As the realization set in, the hunters became ashamed.

‘Now report to me the depth of the river you found.’

The men agreed; they had misjudged the appearance of the Pygmys, and ceded that they were a valuable allies after all.



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