“Once long ago, our herds were vast. We lived in the African Savannahs from scrub lands to the lush green forests and mountains.” The great father began to speak as Baakir, began to pray to the spirits of the ancestors.
A little elephant named Azizi looked up at his mother. She wrapped her trunk around his little head and gave him a reassuring squeeze. Every year of the great migration, stories of the old ones were told so that the young would carry them to the future. Azizi loved hearing them even if sometimes they made him a little sleepy. He didn’t really understand them, but he got to stay up a little later than normal and that was always a good thing. A fire fly buzzing about distracted him from the story. Lightening streaked across the sky as Great Father continued the story. Azizi lifted his head once again drawn back to the much older elephant who was telling the story.
“We were masters of this land of abundance, mother to us all. The rivers flowed and the Savannahs grew thick with grasses. We are a great and mighty herd, but our herds are getting smaller.”
Suddenly lights like falling stars began to streak down towards the Earth. Little Azizi looked up as the great Elephants of the past filled the sky. He gasped as he saw them roaming about the sky. His mother patted him with her trunk and he reluctantly turned back to the story.
“Our herds were happy and lived in harmony with all the animals even the great cats of the pride lands and jungles. Then the two legs came. They came in great numbers.”
Several of the older elephants roared their trunks, stomped their feet, and shook their heads. Azizi drew closer to his mother. The great father roared the loudest and then all was quiet once again. The other males lowered their heads in respect and began to make their rumble; their song. It was a solemn sound.
“The two legs known as Man came and hunted our people. They stole our long tusks and stole our calves. They enslaved our people; shackled them in irons. They destroyed our kind until our great numbers dwindled. They drove us from our beloved Grasslands and peaceful jungles. They ran us out of mountains in fear.” His voice sent shivers up and down Azizi.
Azizi’s mother and the rest of the female African Elephants raised their trunks and let out a mournful cry. It was sad and a lonely sound. Azizi looked at the star elephants and they looked as if tears spilled from their eyes. He saw scenes of the two legs; the humans taking great whips and beating them, taking their fire sticks and killing some, and ripping calves away from mothers. Azizi didn’t want to look anymore. He didn’t want to hear the sad stories anymore. He felt tears in his eyes. There were never any more happy stories told. Azizi remembered only a few that his mother told him of the great elephants who lived in the sky among the stars. He looked up and they twinkled. He imagined they were twinkling for him.
When the last female finished with their sad cry, Great Father began speaking again.
“Our herds were driven into hiding and no longer knew happiness. The men brought their machines and destroyed our forests. They built cities and took away the good clean water. The herds were forced to travel for water and many have been lost along the way both young and the old.”
“Man has brought us much sadness and hardship but we are still a strong proud herd. We are still here on this land. Man has not taken it all from us. We teach our young how to find the water holes and how to watch out for the danger that lurks. We have the ancestors to guide us and the young to teach the future.”
There was a chorus of trunks roaring and the bulls stomped theirfeet and shook their mighty heads. Azizi began to wonder why man hated them so much. He pondered that. The big lions, cheetahs, and even the great tigers did not hate them even though they sometimes hunted elephants. Why was man different? He had to have an answer to the questions that were filling his little head.
Azizi first asked his mother, because she knew everything about anything.
“Mama, why does Man hate us?” Azizi asked as his mother was leading him to their nesting spot.
“Man is man Azizi. We do not know why.” His mother said softly.
Azizi cocked his head up at his mother, “But they don’t look very big and we have Great Father who is the biggest of all elephants and he is even afraid of man.”
“Size is not always what wins Azizi. The snake in the bush is small yet has a bite that kills. The hyena cannot take a gazelle down alone, but in a pack it can.”
Azizi lay down and his mother next to him protectively. “Go to sleep Azizi.”
Azizi still had so many questions but did as he was told and went to sleep.
Azizi’s dreams were filled with animals crying and man was coming for them. He saw the fear in the faces of his mother and the herd. Azizi opened his eyes, and the sky was still dark while stars filled the sky. He gently tilted his head as he watched a star streak across the sky. It Ziiinged across the sky and Azizi watched as it fell into the watering hole. Aziz stood up and lumbered quietly through where his family; the herd were sleeping. He’d never seen a falling star before and the brilliant bright white and blue lights were shimmering over the water of the watering hole. It was such an amazing sight.
Azizi stepped closer and the light Zipped and Zagged over the water. The ball of wonderous light then exploded and the light was so bright that Azizi had to cover his eyes with his ears. It was all quiet once again and when Azizi removed his ears from his eyes, standing in the middle of the watering hole was a beautiful white elephant.
The elephant was tall and had golden tusks that came from its mouth. Its ears were huge. It had wise eyes that twinkled as if two stars were captured. Its trunk was long and much bigger than Great Father’s. Azizi was a little afraid not knowing what to do.
“W-Who are you?” Azizi stuttered, feeling a little afraid all of a sudden.
The giant white elephant with the golden tusks lowered its head slightly and smiled, “Hello Azizi. I am Zahara, your ancestor. My time here is short, and I have a lot to show you my little one.”
Read more about Azizi and his journey in
Elephant Symphony by Nikki Noffsinger