Nabee in Peace and war
In the eastern part of Africa there lived an ancient people of Nabee land. Long, long ago, the land of Nabee was covered with thick forest. In it lived several wild animals and humans who run away from harsh rule. Among the wild animals there was an ape called Hillu. On the human side was a young man called Dhugaasaa.
In Nabee humans, animals and plants lived in harmony. The people had sets of laws for all relations. They had a system called safuu. Safuu defines relations of man to man and man to nature. By it the weak is protected against the strong. Nature is protected against humans. If animal has to be hunted for food the type, age and gender is defined by law. If plants have to be cut for food fuel, building and other domestic use the type and sizes are given. Only necessity justifies the transgression.
Be it for hunting or defense humans used slings, clubs and other sharpened wooden sticks or spears. For this reason there was a chance for an animal to dodge attacks. As a result only very few could be affected by a campaign.
In Nabee legend, there were humanlike creatures called Bulguu. They lived like humans but if they get the chance they favor human flesh. In particular they were said to prefer flesh of woman and children. The people of Nabee used to suspect all people whom they don’t know their background as Bulguu. Bulgu comes from a far of country and live in disguise as human.
When forces from across the sea invaded Africa, it was heard in Nabee that a white Bulgu called “Adi” was approaching eating woman and children and demanding total submission from all nations. It devours any one it came across. He is said to avoid those who tied a string from bark of qaqaroo plant on their neck. So many people are said to have tied that string to rebuff Adi. But the army was getting ready to defend the nation with all force it could muster.
Not long after this it was heard that a black Bulguu was rolling down from the northern mountains towards Nabee. It was the harbinger of Adi’s omen. It was rumored that the Black Bulguu is married to white Bulguu and its rank has swelled with in-law warriors. The black Bulguu is said of beating Drums the size of grain silos and its foot soldiers were breathing fire. The horse of the leader was said to be as huge as an elephant but swifter than the wind. The horse men throw no spear but their spear throws fire like thunder. It was also said that it spoke a weird language.
When it arrived the Drum was fairly big and those who beat them are different in color from Bulguu in general. There were many like them. They were humans but Bulguu treated them like its pack animals. They were said to be from Yabomba land which they said was situated between two great river valleys. Among them were egalitarian societies and kingdoms.
In general the foot soldiers and horsemen were ordinary persons. They were even shorter and emaciated looking when compared to Ilmoo Ormaa. What breathed fire were not the soldiers but their weapons. The horse was no greater than that of Nabee’s master of war. Bulguu lived like humans but doesn’t have safuu.
When the Bulguu horde arrived famous heroes of the land led their men out to challenge it. They fought bravely with bows and arrows and spears and clubs. Several times they beat it and pushed it back. They outsmarted it in formation and tactics. But they could not hold further for clubs and spears were no match for the fire spitting guns and canons. Above all there were galtuu (quislings) who showed them the back door and helped to attack the gallant warriors from the back. With that treachery the enemy got the upper hand and massacred them. Till they were all down they didn’t flinch for the brutal onslaught. The invader didn’t spare all it laid hands on.
It amputated body parts, genitals, breast and limbs of men women and infants and hanged them from sacred odaa trees. It burned down houses. It killed animals and burned forests in the pretext of driving out who ever may be hiding there. The weapons can kill from many times the distance of spear throw and at the fastest speed so far seen. The rate of animal and human death was unforeseen. Those who were spared took it as a curse from Waaq the supreme black God and submitted for there was no choice.
Before every battle the chief of white Bulguu takes out a piece of cloth and murmurs something on it. Then he points to a direction which the black Bulguu immediately follows. They called that piece of cloth “kaartaa”. Other white Bulguu treat wounded and sick black Bulguu soldiers, show how weapons work and write down what others tell them. They even ask songs, stories, names of plants, animals, worshiping ways etc. Some were gathering leaves and flowers for their white falfalaa (magic) it was suspected.
In the mean time several falfaltuu of black Bulguu were scattered through out the hinter land. Their heads were rapped with sash and they wore long skirts that cover their legs. They had little bags that they carry under their armpits and carried various types of crosses, metal and wooden. They say they have medicine for all deceases. The people of Nabee knew only medicine from branches and roots. These ones write in black and red colors and sew that in small leather and hang it from the patients’ arms or necks. For this they charge money, honey, salt bar and live animals. On their way they study the life of those people and inform on them to authority. That was their main mission.
The white Bulguu that captured other African countries also caused much destruction and dislocation of native societies. The difference between black and white Bulguu was that the former didn’t cross the seas, it was no better than its colonies in development of material culture. It rather destroyed what the colonial people had. In short it didn’t impart any new knowledge to the colonies. Had it not been for the advanced weaponry and logistic support of Adi, it would not have been able to stand the might of Nabee warriors. Its skin color was to help it later to camouflage and remain with its colonies when all colonizers went back leaving their colonies independent.
Even after taking control of the land, Bulguu started to cut trees without good cause. Areas under human control were expanded. Cultivation of domesticated plants replaced areas of wild plants. Wild roots and fruits that herbivorous animals used to depend on diminished. Animals that served as prey for carnivores were killed indiscriminately. Therefore their numbers diminished.
Many bigger games flee the area in search of security and food. Only those not needed as games, for food, skin or their other parts remained. That is why in some areas of Nabee land bineensa (wild animal) means only hyena for there are no other animals known to them. Animals that didn’t flee started to invade human farms. Monkey, hyenas, swine, big and small wild cats became threats to human life and property.
Those animals destroyed crops and killed domestic animals for food. Lions and hyenas started to attack human beings and eat them. With that what Nabee people call “Bara Nyaataa” (Era of the Eater) came about. The old bond was broken and the balance of nature disturbed.
Resurgence of Nabee people
Dhugaasaa was a native of Nabee. A hundred years before his birth White Bulgu from across the sea, mentioned above, invaded and divided among them the great black African continent. That campaign for colonizing marked the period known in history as The Scramble for Africa.
It was at that same time that the army of the kingdom of Black Bulgu to the north of Nabee invaded all nations to its south with help of the White Bulguu. It had maintained it with their help since then.
Bulguu was able to put the land and the people of Nabee under control. This was possible only after almost half the population was wiped out. Many that survived the onslaught were sold into slavery and the rest were driven to forced labor. The peace loving law abiding people of Nabee lost all they had. Their families were broken up. Their social and political system was uprooted. The language and culture were banned.
The old rumor persisted even long after its arrival that at least some among the Bulgu were cannibals. For a long time the rumor was scary and terrifying. The new comers intentionally encouraged the spread of such rumors as a supplement for rule by terror. People used to suddenly disappear and never heard of. Were they eaten, killed or sold no body knows. People were afraid to moan let alone tell where it hurt.
Rumors of Bulguu’s cannibalism spread like wild fire that fear spread to all corners of the land. Despair overwhelmed the occupied people. Accepting pain with patience is not saving from perishing. Resisting occupation then became a choice of life over death not only between honors over humiliation. Those who chose dying resisting rather than remain succumb to fear started raising their voice against occupation. But the existence of those who preferred to move with what ever was left of them until totally consumed rather than standing up against the inevitable humiliation presented great obstacle.
Despite that the hue and cry raised by the few got modest response and there were several scattered rebellions in all corners over the years. But it took a century to form a unified pan-Nabee resistance. A rallying cry reverberated throughout the nation and a liberation movement was born. Youngsters from all parts of Nabee got together and vowed not to go home until they drive out the enemy. First they asked the enemy to leave their country. The invaders made a joke out of their demand. Then they picked up arms and went underground.
The pan-Nabee movement didn’t limit itself to Nabee nation only. It has tried to enlist the support of other oppressed and colonized peoples. Even if the result was not as expected fruitful understanding that could pave the way for future cooperation was created. Because the entire oppressed are found south of the colonizing country many refer to them as Southern peoples. Nabee is one among the Southern Peoples so shares the pain and misery, which makes it logical to share the pleasure and wellbeing that could be achieved through cooperation.
Many who rebelled against occupation started to operate from their base in the jungles, valleys and mountains of their country. Others blended themselves with the people and started to work for the liberation movement in top secrecy. That is how a guerilla war started. Dhugaasaa was one of those young people who took to the jungle after other types of struggle became futile. Dhugaasaa had learned the white Bulguu and Black Bulguu Sidomic languages.
The story has come passing from mouth to mouth but the exact spot of Dhugaasaa’s shelter was not told. Could it be around Raammis, Waabee, Hawaas, Abbayyaa, Gibee, Birbir, Gandhaalee, Anger, Gabbaa or Daabbus so far no body could tell the where about, all were possible.
Life in the jungle
Dhugaasaa shared the forest with monkeys and other animals whose ancestors lived in it from time immemorial. One among them was a clever monkey called Hilluu. Dhugaasaa occupied a cave deep in the jungle abandoned by black panther long ago. No wander the panther is the logo on the banner of Dhugaasaa’s platoon. His coming there didn’t disturb the environment. He strictly observed the principles of safuu even after its base cracked. The forest was a little distance from a small village.
The cave was safe for no animal dared to tread in panther’s den. It had two entrances one in the east, another in the north. The western one was accessed through a tunnel. Both entrances are good for taking in fresh air and for easy escape as well. The inside of the cave was very dark. It was only the clatter of birds and the groaning of colobus monkey that indicated sunrise for him.
The inside of the cave is also cold. Dhugaasaa used dead twigs for heat. And wax and castor seed candle for light. Safety matches were scarce. Therefore he used ichima (fire sticks) to make fire. In olden days people made fire by inserting sharp point of one stick into another’s hole and spinning. With high friction fire was formed. When that falls on easily combustible material fire starts.
Once heat, the cave will stay warm for a long time. For this reason he puts out the fire to lesson the bad effect of smoke. Smoke releases carbon monoxide, which is hazardous for health. He made the candles from bee wax and castor seeds he collected from the forest. He had torchlight but used it only for night travel and cases of emergency.
During the day he rested under the shade of a huge odaa tree by the side of a roaring river. The odaa can be any tree that served as a shade but mostly it is a sycamore like tree. It was situated away from the jungle in an open field near a river bank. There was no path leading from the village to it. The shade served him as a shelter from heat of the sun and rain. He also used it as an office and takes nap under it. He got water from a small stream that flows into the river.
His ancestors used the same type of tree for many purposes. It was their assembly hall. They met under it and deliberated. Laws were legislated and promulgate there. Administration of justice and resolution of conflicts took place under the odaa shade. Under the odaa war and peace were declared. The people also used to repose under it when tired. Different types of rituals were performed under the odaa tree. It also served shelter for travelers.
At the center of all odaas there was the Odaa of Nabee known as Odaa Nabee. It was an assembly of the whole nation. Delegates come from allover Nabee land once in eight years for regular meetings or extra ordinary meetings as required. Laws promulgated there are the supreme laws of Nabee land. All odaas were subservient to it. Believers deposited their vowed offer to Waaq under the odaa.
For this reason the odaa tree was loved and revered by all the people. In memory of this Dhugaasaa and his generation adopted the odaa tree as a national symbol for justice and democracy. It now serves as a logo for intellectual, social and political publications and other products.
The same odaa tree was an abode for clever Hilluu. The monkey race also used to base their living on trees in olden day, when trees were abundant. Hillu and Dhugaasaa didn’t have problem of claim to the odaa. In most cases he used only the ground under the tree though for emergency cases he could climb to hide in the branch leaves. Hilluu understands that it was an occasional matter and so didn’t take it as trespass.
There were also several holes probably abandoned by squirrels long ago. Dhugaasaa had a rifle and a bag of ammunitions besides other provisions. But he had never used the rifle to assert authority over the monkeys. He usually stashes them in the squirrel holes to hide from passers by keen eyes.
Hilluu used to observe from above what ever Dhugaasaa was doing below. She also vigilantly watches her surrounding for any unwanted visitor and gives warning signals to her folks. Over a period of time Dhugaasaa came to recognize the signals and made use of them. They maintained this symbiotic relation since they became neighbors. They both take uninvited guests as dangerous and so take all precautions not to fall preys.
Dhugaasaa used to leave his goods behind in the squirrel holes whenever he goes out for a walk, other duty or in search of food. Each leg may take Dhugaasaa hours or minutes to go and get back. Some times he spends days.
At the entrance to the village on a surface raised higher than the surrounding, was a small lonely cottage. At the back of it was a thick forest. In it lived an old woman called Biishaa. Biishaa was the only one who prophesied traditional religion in the surrounding. So many revere her as a link with their past. Christianized nationals call her Gaallaa when referring to her religion. Dhugaasaa used to stopover at Biishaa’s during his travels. For him she was the only trusted and Waaqaa fearing human friend in the surrounding.
Biishaa was known in the area as a deranged woman. She had the habit of talking alone uninterruptedly. That puts her sanity in doubt. But children in the community loved her. They bring her twigs for fire. In return she makes them tiny cakes called “bixxillee” and roasted cereals called “akaayii”.
Hillu occasionally visited Biishaa for leftovers. Biishaa throws for Hillu what ever she affords. She talks to Hilluu as if the other listens to her. Hilluu always nudges for more treat to the extent that Biishaa gets irritated and chases her way with sticks and missiles. Yet Hillu would come back some other day. No body understood Biishaa more than Hilluu. She knows that inside she feels loneliness. At the same time she doesn’t trust people and so staid away from them. That was why she speaks to herself. That was why she also talks with Hilluu herself as if she understands. So Hilluu doesn’t take Biishaa’s quarrel as serious that she goes back to get something out of her.
His visit to Biishaa was important for Dhugaasaa. She refreshes him with coffee, jokes and gaayyaa (tobacco pipe in which the smoke passes through water). Biishaa’s cottage was in a strategic place. All in the county have to pass by her to come into or get out of it. So she had a flow of information to share with him. Her cottage also sometimes serves him as a rendezvous with comrades during the nights.
She keeps her house and the surrounding very clean and attractive. It was a practice she adopted from Aaddoo Maawoo community with whom she lived in exile as a little girl. She knew almost every family in her surrounding by name. All that pass by will be offered coffee but few accept her offer for most passersby would always be in a hurry to reach their destination. Most of those who return from markets or who visit the village bring her gifts of coffee, salt, tobacco, etc.
When people pass by her cottage, the first thing she says was, “Asham (Well come)! Please come in I will make you coffee”. Whether they take her offer or not she will start greeting each by name or by ones family name. Even if they were strangers she will have question for them. She first enquires about peace and health of the family and community. She also asks about the weather, domestic animals and the crops.
She inquires where they are going and from where they came; to which clan and family they belong. Then she asks what the news is; who they saw in the market, on the road etc. In most cases they respond to her query; for they are afraid of her name callings if they ignore it. As for strangers they don’t see any thing abnormal about her, so they normally respond to her questions.
After she completes her query it seems a channel in her brain changes and she starts telling what she remembers about the person, his family, or the place he is coming from, from her past memory. Biishaa’s memory was photographic; no detail past or present escapes her. If they were good she praises them and laments for their dead. If they were mean she blames them for what they have done to her and to other people.
She mentions the heroes, villains and traitors of their community. She pours out praises for the heroes and some times even cries for losing them. She has no mercy for villains and traitors she condemns their body and soul.
After extracting information she needed, whether the person stops to listen to her story or walked away she doesn’t pay heed to it but would continue narrating until another person comes and divert her attention. For this reason no body suspected Biishaa for paying attention to what is going on around her let alone helping a rebel in gathering information. But her sharp mind is trained to gather information unnoticed. Even a no answer for her query was an answer for her.
Though she talks non stop she sees and listens to what was going on better than any body in the area. No body also suspects that she understands black Bulguu’s Sidomic language. Biishaa was in a far-off labor camp when she was fifteen years of age. It was there that she picked up the language by listening to the speakers.
It was in labor camp that she was abused by Bulguu soldiers. It is from then that she started to talk alone. A son born from the abuse was taken away and she had never known his whereabouts. She was also abused by a white Bulguu and had a son whom she gave her nephew’s name as a family name. And she gave him to the care of the same nephew. All this combined she aged without marrying. No reason was left in life for her to tolerate injustice and live with it in peace.
Narrating past events is a daily routine for her. She never forgets inserting the dark side of life under alien occupation in her narrations. While talking, her mind records what ever she hears and sees at that moment. These become material for future narration and a report for Dhugaasaa on current affairs.
One day she told Dhugaasaa having met strangers in the surrounding. They were coming from the direction of the odaa tree. From what they were asking Biishaa surmised they could be on some sort of mop up operation to a village. Their leader was a Bulgu and she also identified a galtuu (snitch) with them. They asked a way to the village. She said she put them on the longer way. He hurried to his shade to make sure if they hadn’t made stop over. He has also to arrange for an errand to warn his comrades about the strangers
When he reached his place, incidentally he found that his paints and documents were messed up. Painting was Dhugaasaa’s hobby. His paintings were splashed over, his brushes were scattered and every thing he hid in the hole were all over the place. Observable foot prints were only that of him and Hilluu.
So no stranger had visited the area. He was relieved from the worries that brought him running. So who could the culprit be? Could Hillu have done it accidentally while searching for food? For the time being the puzzle was left unanswered. He has to run to his friends incase they didn’t receive warning message.
When he arrived his friends were engaging the enemy. He joined them and changed the balance. One comrade has fallen. They didn’t want to retreat living his body behind so they fought like the panther on their logo. Many enemy soldiers were annihilated the rest run leaving their dead and wounded, weapons ammunition and ration behind. It was a tough day. They buried their comrade and the fallen enemy soldiers and dispersed in different directions until they met on similar occasion.
Dhugaasaa directly went to Biishaa for smoke, coffee and something to eat if she had. When he arrived he was shabby and dirty all over. She was shocked by his dilapidation. What happened muundee (the foreskin)? That was how little children were referred to endearingly. He told her the story.
She wanted to ululate but she was afraid the enemy may be around. She run into a room and came with fresh butter and smeared his head. That is how those who come home with trophy were treated. She made some movement of a war dance just to fulfill tradition. She told him not to bother about the greasiness butter forms with the dirt.
Any ways you are going to wash off the dirt immediately, I presume. She told him of the saying, “as stomach likes food Waaqaa likes cleanliness”. I will smear you on clean hair tomorrow. Butter will keep away lice when you have no time to wash. She then provided him with what she had and he left in a hurry suspecting the enemy might be following him.
After Dhugaasaa left Buunjee the pauper came to Biishaa’s for his usual leftovers and tobacco smoking. He loves rumors; what ever he collected he brings and unloads for Biishaa. Did you hear aadde? Some of our boys have decided to go home and participate in peaceful struggle? It is from dependable persons that I overheard.
Didn’t they try and fail before? What name are they going to take when going back? The same name they call themselves by replied Buunjee. That is the name coined for those who love bilisummaa and independence, how can it be, asked Biishaa? If the colonizer allows them peaceful operation what does it matter they will drop the name and take up appropriate one said Buunjee.
Oh Waaq, why did you keep me so long? Why didn’t you kill me with my friends in that camp? What did I do to you? Ani badee, ani bade! Biishaa cried in the way her people used to cry when a kin dies. Stop aaddee, put you voice low, even the tree has ears this days said Buunjee. Shut up what does it matter even if those you are afraid of were here? There is no double death for I am already dead.
They are trying to dash our hopes at this late age when we cannot chase or flee. Shame on the womb that bore such naïve slave minded individuals. Shame on the people that so far adored and worshiped them. When are we going to break out of this shame? Yaa Waaq why do you punish this kind hearted people? Why do you produce such swindlers among the rank of its heroes every time?
Aaddee don’t you worry this time they are allied with the former Bulguu on equal footing; they have better chance than going it alone. I knew it; they are longing for buddeena and spiced ittoo said Biishaa. That is why they are in a hurry to go empty handed to a people waiting their coming with trophy.
Even Goobana the great warrior was cheated by the Bulguu when his mouth was watering for equal share in booty he single handedly brought for the alliance from our land. He died at his cottage in Faallee broke. Now they can never convince any body if they fail to achieve what they are giving as excuse.
How many believed them and gave their lives when they bragged about independence? How many are roaming their countries jungles eating fruits and root like ancient hunters and gatherers believing they would reach for them one day? How many are subjected to live on tree tops and caves like wild animals? How many times should a nation err to realize it and stop repeating the same mistake? When is it going to look inwards to set control mechanisms on those who lead it?
It is high time that we produce leaders with self confidence and eliminate the tendency of dependency. Only those with high spirit of national self reliance can win friends and influence the course of history. Whether they are led by aliens or by their own they are the one that face death or victory first hand. Why do they always want aliens to bless and direct them? This was what we aught to go to waabeekaa (psychic) for.
Any ways still my hopes are high. It is not to these pusillanimous alone that Nabee mothers gave birth. There are those that will uphold the Kaayyoo and move forward till victory. The name got at haammachiisaa in the morning will never be dropped. Millions will come out to prop it up. Thank you for the news. My headache is coming let me rest finish your gaayyaa and go. Buunjee was surprised at her fury.
He taught she would feel happy if this unending war stopped. Otherwise he should not have irritated his friend. He walked away biding her nagaatti bulli, good night. Biishaa in her mind first said had I known you I would not have wasted my tobacco on you. But you are ignorant, yaa Waaq what has gone into my mind she said loudly. He didn’t hear her properly he took it for her usual grumbling and continued his way. She soon started snoring. Tomorrow she is going to challenge Dhugaasaa if he was a partner to this double pronged surrender to the uncrowned and to the crowned colonizer.
Conflict between Dhugaasaa and Hillu
The mess up continued at his rest place during the following days. Now he started suspecting Hillu for doing it intentionally. For unknown reason all other monkeys had left the vicinity during that period and Hilluu was lonely. Probably she wanted to establish direct communication with Dhugaasaa to overcome feeling loneliness. She might be provoking him to counter act. Looking up he tried to warn her but she laughed at him and throws a branch or fruit at him.
He could have frightened her by blast of his gun. But the episode doesn’t worth wasting scarce ammunition. It is meant only for fighting Bulgu. But Hilluu is daily getting nuisance. What can be done? She started to seem more delighted when he is irritated. She was treading on his interest and that was not good neighborliness.
Then spirit of human chauvinism and arrogance overwhelmed him. If she apes painting he thought she might also ape harmful acts. One day he took all his goods to the cave and got back only with a knife and sat under the tree as usual. He had read a story from olden days of how a recluse intellectual of a far of land got rid of a tricky ape of her sort.
He was going to try what that man did. That is why he brought the knife with him. The knife was very sharp. He carefully rubbed the dull side of the knife on his neck and placed it under the tree as he did his brush. He left it there and went away.
Hillu was observing what he was doing and smiled. She has also heard the same story Dhugaasaa is trying to imitate. In her heart she said monkey story teller had told me what yours had told you. It was from ignorance that my forbear was tricked into cutting her throat. Now I shall prove to you that I am cleverer than her and than you as well. Hilluu also knows that knife is a deadly tool. Once she had cut her limb when she accidentally touched a blade. Even the scar was still visible. She said to herself, “to fart once is human to repeat is worthlessness”. Farting in public is shame in Hilluu land. She always stressed that failing to learn from ones mistake is unforgivable.
She blamed her forebears for repeating past mistakes over and over to the determent of the following generation. Hilluu is intelligent. She brings past mistake to memory so that it would not be repeated. She used to curse all persons dead and alive who failed to learn from their own past experience and go on repeating the same mistake.
She always remembers how her husband called Bungul, a monkey hero, left her with a messed up life. He replayed exactly what his great grandfather has erred. Budee, her eldest son died untimely because of that. Whenever she thinks loud she used to say “Abbaa Budee” (Father of Budee) let your soul burn like you burned me”. “You messed me up let the Ayyaana of your ancestors mess you up. Then a man was not called by name after a son was born to him.
Hillu frequently sneaks into Dhugaasaa’s cave and steals his food. Dhugaasaa had been blaming on rats and never suspected other animals. Her trip to Dhugaasaa’s cave helped Hilluu to know what Dhugaasaa had in store. With information she had, she run to the cave and painted her neck from one ear to the other with red paint and rushed back to where the knife was. She waited until she saw Dhugaasaa coming from far off. She then picked the knife and with it in her hand stretched her self on her back as if she was dead.
Dhugaasaa felt mission accomplished and started giggling and murmured “you smart thing you brought it to yourself, lie there like a mummy!” Hilluu laid there dry like a corpse. A mixed feeling of guilt and achievement started to bother Dhugaasaa’s conscience when he started to think of what he did.
He felt the measures he took were not proportional with wrongs done to him. He is the one who came to her territory. He could have kept his equipment away from her reach. He knows that apes like her love imitating what they saw. He realized how mean he was after it was too late. Deep down in his mind he felt the chill of unfairness. He was not sure how to bear it. Be it as it may with this one gone, he had to reconcile with the rest and his own conscience.
Dhugaasaa bowed down and stretched his hand to take away the knife. Hilluu started giggling like he did when he saw her corpse. He jerked and fell down on his back. He remained unconscious for a while. He thought it was her ghost that was laughing at him. Hilluu got up, put the knife on his chest and climbed her tree.
She could have stabbed him to death. But she didn’t. Probably she considered the catastrophe vengeance could bring on future generation. After regaining consciousness Dhugaasaa got up and gazed to where she was lying dead. She was not there. He looked up and saw here on a branch giggling at him. He said nothing but headed to his cave with his head down.
In his cave he discovered that all his tools and equipments were out of order. There were drops of red paints on the floor. He recalled what he thought red blood on the neck of the monkey and laughed at himself. He was amazed as to why she didn’t do any harm to him. He listed in his thought all possible considerations that stopped her leave him without harm. But he wondered if monkeys have any foresight.
He was ashamed of intending to take advantage of her ignorance and harm her. She proved to be more farsighted and wiser than him. She outsmarted and made him the sole loser. That she showed magnanimity even made him feel more guilty conscience than his foul play.
Why didn’t he have the same compassion and wisdom as hers? Why did he consciously want to play trick on her naiveté and harm her? As a liberation fighter he had vowed to defend the vulnerable. As the inheritor of safuu tradition he has failed the spirit of his forebears. What a double standard of judgment? With time passing his shame troubled him more. He then promised to his inner self to make amends when the opportunity arises.
In the morrow he took back his things with him and sat under the shade. He then beckoned Hillu with his hand. Anger was not visible on his face as it used to be. In her thought it seems as if she was saying, “You fool, I tamed you”. She came down when he waved her a head of corn. No sooner than he stretched it towards her she snatched it away and climbed her tree.
Next day he pushed paper, brush and paint towards her after a head of corn. She got hold of it and started imitating him by splashed a monkey type painting. On his part it was a confession of guilt and a request for apology. For her it was a moment of triumph and being accepted for what she worth.
They continued the daily ritual until they got closer and started grooming and caring for each other. Dhugaasaa taught her even to run errand and she became a partner in the struggle. In this way they became very intimate confidants. Together they went around in the jungle to gather different products. The jungle was full of medical herbs, fruits, roots and wild honey. Therefore there was no shortage of supply for all.
Some times she walks in front of him and at other times she climbed on his shoulder. Their trust grew by lips and bounds. All monkeys started to look on Dhugaasaa as a friend and protector. They have performed so many remarkable feats together. Their fame reached every corner of the jungle and beyond. Their story was told and retold by animals and human beings for long, long time, after they were gone.
Since then monkey mothers gather their children on tree tops and human mothers around evening fires and tell the story before they sleep. They all start by saying, “Once upon a time, there was a clever monkey called Hillu and her human friend called Dhugaasaa”.
With this, one night, a monkey grandmother, started to tell the story. Like all monkeys of the time, she said, Hilluu used to dwell on a tree. All the land was covered with forest. For this reason there was no shortage of shelter or food.
Hilluu was the most intelligent and clever ape of her time. Monkey food was fruits from trees and roots from undergrowth. Over a period of time things started to change. Humans that destroy the forest from ignorance and greed invaded the area. They had lots of weapons. They shoot at animals without distinction of age or gender for no reason. They cut trees and burned forests for excess production of farm products.
Those invaders had no law be it for humans not related to them or the environment. Since the invaders arrival whenever they get the chance monkeys never spared human cultivations. That further developed more animosity. Humans and animals thus did devastating harm to each other for many years. Human natives of the area were treated not better than the animals. For this reason they were also not in harmony with the invaders. Under that situation Hillu befriended a human being.
Once a wise and skilled man called Dhugaasaa took shelter in the neighborhood of Hilluu. They became friends after a serious misunderstanding. Their friendship reached a high level of trust and camaraderie. The old monkey continued telling the story covering the whole period of Hilluu’s and Dhugaasaa’s life. Did you hear me my children? She asked at the end.
The present she said, is the improved continuation of the past. We learn from our past mistakes and overcome our present difficulties. If we are wise we don’t repeat past mistakes. At the same time we must not be overwhelmed by nostalgia for the past. The most important thing is to do well at present with the future in mind. The continuation of the race depends on the considerate performance of the present generation. We cannot reverse time and live in the past.
Our forebears used to say “knowledge is power”. Even if one gets power to use it may not be simple. Hilluu understood that living with humans doesn’t make her one of them. Her relation with Dhugaasaa was based on mutual understanding of the principles of equality and respect for each other. Through out their relations she maintained monkey dignity and honor. She didn’t bow for Dhugaasaa because he was armed with lethal weapon. But used her intelligence to bring him to her side and learn a lot from him. By that she created a peaceful environment for her generation and she also left us unforgettable legacy.
Monkeys with determination and commitment had found a movement to defend their territorial right against human invaders. But like it deceived Dhugaasaa’s race, the invader was able to send a feeling of self denial into monkey movement. It deceived so many monkeys and snared them. Even one of the monkey leaders, Bungul was lulled by domesticated monkeys and human girls to leave his post. The girls usually went down stream to fetch water or wash clothes. From captive monkeys the learned the way of monkey and intruded in monkey affairs maliciously. Dhugaasaa used to call such monkeys and humans “galtuu”.
On one occasion Bungul was assigned surveillance mission. He was promised back up and sent with few soldiers. He went to the post alone to be followed by the few helpers within short time. And so he was at the place with meager protection. One day the girls at a stream beckoned Bungul to come and play with them. He left his post and joined them. They flattered him as the most handsome and elegant male. They flirted with him for a while until humans sneaked in and took position. Then they left him promising another date. He was excited by the human girls more than the monkey ones.
Duty assigned him was to keep watch on enemy movement, from a rock and raise hue and cry before it reached the boundary line. He was also supposed to engage and block the enemy until every monkey is evacuated. Without suspecting a setup he left his post for a relation that may never materialize. Sulking, he went back to his post.
But alas, he saw from a distance some figures but thought they were helpers he left behind. It was a beat dark he couldn’t exactly figure out. Unsuspecting he walked into enemy encirclement. There was no way he could raise hue and cry. The enemy has its rifle turned on him. He was not in the mood to think of escaping. He started thinking about the date he was promised by the girls. Now he has to choose between honor and pleasure.
He was standing near to the string which when pulled raises alarm. But he lost the stamina to die and save others. So he decided to give up peacefully and take any assignment humans gave him. Monkey honor code demands killing oneself under such circumstances. He chose to lose honor for pleasure he might get by collaborating.
Earlier he had earned fame in a battle. Then he was young and showy. The fame believed he registered earned him attention. That attention spoiled him. He became pleasure loving and shunned the rough life of a soldier. Such change of heart was not limited to him many of his peers were in the same boat. There were others who didn’t notice this phenomenon. But those who tried to blow a whistle against him were silenced.
If Bungul’s patriotism were to be questioned there were many high up the ladder of authority to be affected. There were cover ups in the process of bestowing recognition on a member. There were cliques within the leadership that were conspiring to give up to humans and have started to negotiate clandestinely. But the way humans are humiliating Bungul by exposing him to the public had made them to suspect human intentions.
They wished Bungul would keep the secret to himself. So far that he didn’t mention names they hoped will give them time until they negotiate for better terms. They didn’t bother of the general strategy he is exposing. But humans had got all they wanted; they needed no more monkeys to break the backbone of monkey nation. Therefore they severed the negotiation.
Be it as it may, by deed or default Bungul had established his name and earned several privileges. Now when the real testing time came he succumbed to his selfish interest and proved those who had doubts about him correct. With the same zeal that he was said to have defended the monkey nation, he was going to help in its destruction. He is no more a member of a clique he will have no obligation to any body.
His deeds as a private soldier which is now coming under question made the establishment to overlook background checking for the assignment. Conspirators who have placed themselves in key positions were able to cover up the truth. If the society had an inbuilt checking mechanism on activities of members the weaknesses and conspiracies that is now rocking the system could have been kept at bay.
But once venerated as a hero no body dared to point fingers at one or ones coconspirators. A small error created a catastrophe. Almost all the fighting force that he was supposed to lead and numerous peaceful civilians were affected by his surrender. In addition numerous guarded secret corners of the force were destroyed by his neglect.
Humans rejoiced for putting Bungul under control. After intensive interrogation that included physical and mental torture and after they squeezed all he knew about monkey defense they told the world of capturing a renowned monkey agent. After humiliating and self incriminating exposure on mass media they started a brain washing program that would make him totally submit to their authority. Then they arranged for him easy and luxurious life that made him regret the time he wasted fighting them.
They surrounded him with the domesticated monkey girls. Human girls also adored him as the best pet they had ever had. But for him they were as girls as the monkey ones. Every kiss and caressing they give him he interpreted as if it were sexual.
In return for human generosity he led them the way to monkey country hideouts. He called out the monkeys and lectured them as every thing was under control and that he had made peace with humans on favorable terms. He was their hero and one of them, many believed him. Those who could have informed the monkey masses the danger Bungul was posing were sluggish and didn’t reach in time.
Some gave up resistance and went back to their individual tree. After that the humans and their stooges started to cut down their trees and capturing them one by one. Their aim was to claim the forest for their own interest and so they had to uproot the monkey population from that area. Only the few gallant and wise took shelter in burrows and caves abandoned by burrowing animals. That was how few survived the onslaught.
Some of the captured were exported to monkey eating countries; some were sold in the market for pet lovers others were killed for their skins. The action of those human invaders was similar with deeds of colonizers on human beings they conquered in many parts of the world.
Bungul continued to act more human than human beings and started sharpening knives for the demise of his kin and kiths. He was venerated by humans until all monkey land submitted and put under full control. Then he disappeared not to be heard of again. Some say he was executed for climbing an apple tree. Others say he was sold to poachers. Others say they saw him performing at a circus.
The turning point in his galtuu life came when he accidentally sneaked into what his eyes couldn’t believe. Thousands of monkeys were loaded over trucks leaving for Nigeria, China, Europe and USA. Some were to be exported for food others for entertainment and still others for laboratories.
Bungul’s conscience started to disturb him. What did I do to my own flesh and blood? Where is it going to end? Are they not coming for us, the collaborators after they destroyed all monkeys? Starting then he stayed aloof until he was lost from sight.
Had monkey rulers asked me before elevating him said the monkey grandmother, even I could have told them the dishonorable part of Bungul. Every thing that came his way was accidental. Deceit and conspiracy had venerated his name. Those who knew about him were silenced or stayed away for fear of reprisal. Now there is no use to cry over spilt milk, Bungul is our shame. We are obliged to tell the methods he used to warn future generation if at all we survive.
This was how we failed to protect ourselves and our environment, said the old monkey. Human arrogance is shown not only on monkeys but is getting out of bounds even on other humans under their rule. People like Dhugaasaa were driven out from their homes. With him several libertine like Bungul left home. Like Bungul those chose pleasure over honor. The fight for justice for all is left to the few patriots like Dhugaasaa.
The invader still uses quislings for its aggression and human and environmental right abuse. It beats and denies colonial people the privilege to cry. It asks them and slaps them for replying. It even cuts their tongues so that they never talk. It demands from them to eat their own and work for it. It hogties them so that they cannot move. It denies them life for no reason. It forbids them to keep company or bust in groups. Disobedience would result in summary execution. But it is not easy to totally erase a race though possible to deplete it.
At certain stage of the invasion clashes occur only between quislings and the indigenous. That saved man power and resources for the invader. On both sides it was the national population that would be affected. The quislings have to make sure that if alien rules are not broken by their people. If that happens they are going to suffer the consequence for negligence even if they lack the capacity. Their overzealous performance as not to be discarded was even surprising to their masters. When ever the invader is on a genocidal mission they are made to participate in numbers.
They are then asked to film the part they participate in. Later they edit that and present it as an act performed by nationalists. The original is kept by the masters to blackmail them in the future. Since they are criminals captured by film they have no chance to escape from responsibility for their deeds to any corner of the world.
Those are people born without shame that the woman relatives and neighbors by mistake sent fives ululations when they were born. They were not babies but heartless “dildhuu”, after births. Probably the babies were thrown out as afterbirths.
The dirty work they performed for the invader is assessed at intervals. If it fell below expectation or the quislings started to develop self confidence within the system they could come under scrutiny. They are tolerated only until their replacement is put in place. Until then they will be pampered and encouraged to expose more of their people. Then they are discarded in a surprising and dramatic way called “awucaacin” or “gimgamaa” without prior notification. This had gone on for more than hundred years. Still the oppression continues and there are quislings collaborating.
On the other hand said the old monkey, there were rebels who refuse to budge. They have vowed to liberate their country and return to it the dignity and sovereignty lost to the invader. They want to be masters on their own affairs. They want to live a life with out fear, ignorance and threat. They want to speak and express themselves without inhibition. In short they want to live a life of freedom and happiness in their own land without dictation from aliens.
Respecting each others rights is the only way that all can coexist in peace. Greed and arrogance only breeds hate and hate breeds instability. Hilluu and Dhugaasaa had understood this. They both respected each others interest and tackled together common problems. They fought injustice together and paid attention for each others concern. It is for this reason that Hillu for the monkeys and Dhugaasaa for humans remained heroes and lived even after death.
Hilluu agreed with Dhugaasaa with what he termed “nagaa” and “araaraa”. Nagaa literally means peace. But it is actually more than that. It could mean health, security, stability, tranquility, reconciliation, greetings, discipline, etc. Araaraa like nagaa is also a wide term with deep meaning. It means peace, calm, serenity, harmony, agreement, pacification, ease, truce, reconciliation, stability, heavenly peace, lack of commotion etc. Nagaa and araaraa are pairs one cannot be separated from the other. You aim but cannot define nagaa or araaraa, you live them said the old monkey. That is what we lack and that is what we need.
Hilluu got respect from Dhugaasaa after showing him that she loves to live and let live. She can be merciful when she could hurt. This was a lesson he learned from her. Big and small, majority and minority, animals and humans can live together in peace only if they don’t threaten the survival of one another’s species and care for each others interest to live happily in peace. That is a principle that started to guide them as long as they lived. They both upheld nagaa and araaraa.
On the other hand the world is full of groups which don’t abide by such a principle but go on plundering the environment, kill humans and animals to satisfy selfish greed. That is what is still happening to us in Nabee land. These other people have no heed for other’s wellbeing. Each member of the group wanted to live today and doesn’t consider the consequences of its present actions on future generation.
Such greed had caused the overthrow of many of their governments. But every successor has short memory. It doesn’t remember what has happened beyond the initial stage of the overthrow. What happened to its predecessors becomes history overnight. Unless neighboring humans agree to live in peace we monkeys would suffer a collateral damage. This is over and above the direct and intentional attack on our environment. That is why we say our wellbeing is interwoven with humans. That is what should worry all living beings. We must establish nagaa and araaraa cost what it may.
Dhugaasaa’s relatives wanted to live under nagaa and araaraa with dignity. They had stretched their arms for araaraa to their neighbor on several occasions. But arrogance, contempt and greed didn’t allow the other to work for a peaceful tomorrow. For this reason the lack of justice that sent Dhugaasaa and comrades out of their homes is still pushing out most of their successors up to this day. In pursuit of them their tormentors burn the forests and our continued existence is coming under question every passing day.
We want the indigenous people of Nabee to be free because they are law abiding people. They understand the interrelation of humans and nature properly. During their days their citizens were bound by safuu that dictates the essential harmonious relation of humans, animals, plants and all nature. This culture they have lost in practice but it is deep down in their bones. It is easier for them to renew it than for their invaders to change their ways. The covenant of Dhugaasaa and Hilluu is still fresh in their minds like it is in ours. May Waaq rest the spirit of Dhugaasaa and Hillu in peace? Grandma monkey prayed.
The road to justice that then started was the correct way for us as well; therefore we have to try to learn more about our wise ancestor called Hilluu. She has at least taught us not to repeat our past mistakes. You have to tell this story to your children and grand children who have to continue to do this for eternity. This is enough for today. We will continue the rest tomorrow. No sooner than the old monkey said that, she started snoring. All monkey children yawned and started dreaming the moment their eyes were closed.
In Nabee land food is cooked for supper after cattle are put in kraals and all members get home after sun set. While the women cook food in the kitchen children and men sit around fire in the living room. Like the old monkey older people of Nabee tell history and folklore to their young members. Children had also several games to play. Through them they learn language, mathematics, zoology, geography etc.
Tonight the story of Hilluu and Dhugaasaa took most of the time. Children were told that there is no short cut to freedom. One has to pass through hurdles like Dhugaasaa did. There must be cause worth sacrificing for and commitment and determination to kill and die for it. Hilluu taught us humans that only the naïve repeats past mistakes and victims of aggression have a lot to contribute to the well being of one another. This is what you have to pass to you children like we are doing now.
When food is ready head of the family finalizes the story and children bring their games to end. After food, the head of the family thanked Waaq saying, “ Yaa waaqaa galati kee hin badin (let your thanks not be lost); you have made us pass the day peacefully make us to pass the night in peace as well, protect us from barking famished and provocative satiated”. Then fire is put out and every body goes to bed. Abjuu nagaa! Sweet dreams!
We have done the same thing today, permit us to rest, said the story teller.