In Kenyatta’s The Gentlemen of the Jungle, man renders space in his hut to elephant who seeks shelter from man. Man resorts to violence after elephant and the rest of the animals take advantage of his kindness. “ my deer good man, will you please let me put my trunk inside your hut to keep it out of this torrential rain? ’’ asked the elephant, knowing very well that he needed more space than just what his trunk was going to occupy.
Man invited elephant to put his trunk in, once invited, the elephant pushed his whole body into mans hut pushing man out of his hut “as there is not enough room for both of us, you can afford to remain in the rain while I am protecting my delicate skin from the hailstorm” said the elephant. Against the one tone beast man was helpless so he seeks the help of the King of the jungle, who deems the elephant to be just. With no one to turn to for justice, man resorts to violence.
Under the pretence of civilizing Africa, colonial powers entered into Africa and brought tobacco whisky and religion, once in, they took gold silver and spice to nourish their land as did the elephant to protect its delicate skin. Colonial inhabitants like the Elephant were big and powerful. Against their gun powder and muskets, the sharpest African spear is blunt; they were more advanced in weaponry and larger in number since Africa was then divided into many little tribes. There are several reasons why colonizers explored the world.
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Although their motive for Africa is made known after the colossal damage they caused in Africa, their facade was the premise of making the world a better place for all to live. The colonizers of Africa needed resources to build the life of luxury they wanted, but they had a problem; they did not have enough resources in their land to live the lifestyle they wanted; hence the exploration. The Colonizers took more than they were offered by the Africans. Elephants are known to appear calm and docile, but can be very violent.
An elephant is unpredictable and can turn on any one at any time, with a high probability of causing colossal damage to their surroundings. According to www. discovery. com, an elephant is "the beast which passes all others in wit and mind. " With this knowledge of elephant’s capability to outsmart man, one can argue that elephant intentionally asked for man’s help with the ulterior motive of taking what is rightfully man’s property. The hide of an elephant is very hard and can withstand any burden; hence why the elephant is referred to as a beast of burden.
The scientific name for an elephant is pachyderms, which means thick-skinned animals. Elephant’s statement that his “skin is too delicate” is insulting, and condescending to man, considering the fact that an elephant’s hide is very rough and rugged; a characteristic that is quite opposite of the delicate skin of man. One can argue that this is an effort by the author to give the reader a glimpse of the attitude of colonizers towards Africans; the attitude of the African being inferior to the colonizers.
Once in Africa, in this case, man’s hut, with the size and might of an elephant, the natural inhabitants of Africa were pushed out of their land. How then does one defend himself from a beast that weighs a ton, to whom do you ask for help if your cry for justice is suppressed with what is an unjust law? The African allowed the colonizers on to their land and the colonizers established their own law on the land of Africa to judge and dissolve disputes how they see fit. Another point that sparks my attention as a reader is Kenyatta’s choice of the members of the animal kingdom.
Why the choice of the lion, buffalo, leopard, and hyena as the intruders of man’s hut, and the members of the ruling committee of this case. Why not a cat, a mouse, or any other domestic animals? To further investigate the nature of these animals, an in-depth research was done on the personalities of such animals. The head of the Judging committee, the Lion, is notorious for its greedy nature. Lions steal what is not rightfully theirs. It is in their nature to take advantage of weaker species whenever the opportunity presents itself. The hyena is by nature a scavenger.
The spotted African hyena “features prominently in African mythology and folklore, where its portrayal varies from being a bringer of light, to a symbol of immorality and depravity. ”(www. wikipedia. com) African folklore associates the hyena with immorality and depravity; this says a lot about the hyena in this story considering the fact that it was a member of the unjust rulers of the animal kingdom, and also an intruder to man’s hut which he built for himself. Hyenas are opportunistic and consistently fight with lions in the wild because they’d rather steal the lion’s food than hunt for themselves.
The rhino is a bully. Most people view the rhino as a slow lumbering animal; however, they can turn 180 degrees at the blink of an eye and when necessary can run remarkably fast. The leopard operates with stealth, and is known to be the most secretive, shrewdest and elusive of the large carnivores. It is the strongest climber of the large cats and capable of killing prey larger than itself. All of the above named animals have tendencies to appear docile, but have great capabilities of doing damage.
It is not like the nature of these animals to even co-exist together. However, in this story, they, like colonial powers unite and form an alliance against man, the African. Like the recurring theme of colonizers taking Africa’s wealth, the animal kingdom continues taking from man. The colonial powers, like the elephant had ulterior motives of taking what’s rightfully the property of man, the African. This constant power struggle and trend of injustice and disregard for the African caused the African to seek violence as the ultimate problem solver.
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