Wisdom of the Ages

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The Tsonga people of Southern Africa are a widespread race of tribal folk found all over South Africa. Their culture is deeply rooted in spiritualism, with wild animals playing a significant symbolic role in their values and ethics.

These are some of the lessons that the Tsonga's have learnt from their animal neighbours throughout the years, which are shared in our 'Bedtime Stories' publication.

The Lion Wisdom:

It may seem that the lion, well-known for spending more than half his life involved in naptime and the rest of the time delegating the role of hunter to the 'womenfolk', does not deserve the title of 'King of the Jungle'.

However, to maintain his place at the top of the pecking order on top of the food chain, takes a lot of initial investment. The head honcho of the lion pride holds a precarious position. Young upstarts in search of his esteemed position are in no short supply, and while he is lazing about enjoying pride of place, while others hunt for his food, they are plotting his demise.

To stay on top, any male lion has to remain constantly vigilant of these upwardly mobile males and enforce fierce discipline to keep them in their place. There are territories to be marked and battles to be fought, but as soon as age mellows his disposition and he lapses into his life of luxury, sooner or later a younger stronger male will emerge to take over his kingdom and cast him out to a life of solitude and hardship.

The ultimate downfall of a King teaches us that you can never afford to rest on your laurels, as all that you take for granted can be taken away from you. To be the best you must continue to work hard to maintain your position, to always keep the edge never allowing idleness to set in.

The Buffalo Wisdom

On the opposite end of the scale, we find the mortal enemy of the lion – the buffalo. This fierce, determined and tank-like creature is well-known for its unpredictable temperament and suspicious nature. A buffalo will charge first and think later – much like some people who bulldoze their way through life without a thought for others.

The buffalo's actions can be seen as an example of the value of reputation – do your actions give you a reputation for approachability, stability and honesty or that of a loose-cannon on the lookout for your next target? Do you manage others through fear, or earn their respect, living peacefully among others?

The list goes on, with elephants, hyenas and eagles also playing a role in demonstrating human attributes such as cowardice, persistence and courage.

Ask your hosts to share some more of the Tsonga Wisdoms with you around the campfire.


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Wednesday, 12 December 2018