We woke up one morning in Mwerevu village and were greeted by shouts from somewhere in the bush, close to Mwerevu primary school.
“Peliot! Peliot!” came the shouts from the bush, comprising of male and female voices.
Human beings are known to be curious and it was only natural that everyone would want to find out the reason for the shouts. This was why immediately, people moved in masses towards the place where the shouts came from. It was on a day when cows were normally herded to the local cattle dip, to get rid of ticks, which explained why there was a traffic of cows, along the road, bulls charging at other bulls, calves struggling to suckle their moving mothers and rogue adventurous bulls looking for a golden chance of putting some female cow on heat, in the family way.
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We finally arrived at the scene of the commotion. We approached a young man who was part of a larger crowd.
“What is happening?” someone asked.
“And where is Mzee Busara?” an old woman asked.
“I heard that he has locked himself up in his house, he is too sad to speak to anyone.” The young man answered.
The place was a beehive of activity, with people trying all manner of tricks to drive the elephants away. First it was the drum, being beaten loudly by Mzee Busara. So Mzee Busara had not locked himself up in the house after all? His antics though failed miserably. The elephants were not amused by his drum beating habits. Mzee Kazi brought his power saw and tried scaring the elephants away. The reason for using the power saw was because; someone had said that loud sounds and smell of petrol and smoke could scare the elephants away. Well! The experiment failed miserably.
Meanwhile, Mjuaji had gathered a small crowd around himself and was narrating of his encounter with elephants.
“Weee!” he was saying. “Elephants can outrun the lion and the cheetah. If I had not run faster than Usain Bolt from Jamaica, I would have been killed.” Then looking around proudly, he added, “I am sure if you had been in my situation, most of you would have been caught.”
Looking at Mjuaji, with his enourmous belly, it was difficult to comprehend how he could outrun a snail, leave alone a cheetah or an elephant.
An old man from the crowd explained that the elephants were attending an engagement ceremony in a far away land, only that they seemed to have missed the route they had always been using. Now that was a new theory. Engagement? Did the elephants pay dowry? In what form? Yes, the old men and women in the crowd seemed to buy his story, but most young men and women, the ones who had read a lot of books, considered the theory, outdated nonsense. All these things went on as the elephants munched away at Mzee Busara’ s maize cobs, while he watched. It must have been a very difficult situation to be in Mzee Busara’ s shoes. It was obvious that the projected yield of his farm would be less that year. We could only sympathize, because most of us were yet to learn the art and science of empathizing with a fellow homo sapien.
It was amazing how much the elephant could eat. They practically never stopped eating. They would use their trunks to pick maize cobs and put them in their mouths. They camped at Mzee Busara’ s farm for three hours eating continuously, as the rest of us watched helplessly from a safe distance.
Some adventurous, but misguided, half foolish young men decide to get closer to the elephants. They even had the audacity to throw stones at the elephants. One of the elephants could not take this lying down. It trumpeted angrily and charged at the misguided youths. The young men scampered for safety, narrowly escaping by jumping over the fence. Phew! They were lucky to escape unhurt.
The elephants, sensing that their private space was being invaded, relocated to the neighbouring Mzee Sonko’ s farm and continued munching away at the maize cobs. Mzee Busara felt relieved, as he wiped sweat from his face, using the back of his hand, shaking his head in disbelief. Mzee Sonko on the other hand almost wept, remembering what the elephants had just done at Mzee Busara’ s farm. To say the least, it was not amusing to be in his current situation.
The chief, after much deliberation, decided to inform the authorities of the visitation by elephants. He must have been worried about the ignorance and the self destructive behavior of the villagers, which made them expose themselves to unnecessary danger. The villagers went on following the elephants, oblivious of the possible injuries or even death, but did they care? No, as far as they were concerned, it was a God given opportunity to see with their own eyes how elephants looked like.
The news on the presence of elephants in the village continued spreading like wild bush fire. Farms were left unattended as more people arrived and vowed to witness the drama to the very end. Everyone wanted to be as close as possible to the elephants, regardless of the impending danger.
The commotion in the village, captured the attention of a drunken woman, who came around and walked towards the elephants, who went on plucking and eating maize cobs as if nothing unusual was happening. The woman claimed that, the symbol of her clan was the elephant and so she would not be attacked and that if she talked to them, they would quietly goes away without causing any trouble. This was the highest level of ignorance displayed so far. People shouted at her to move away, but she was as stubborn as a she goat on heat.
The ignorant woman went on yapping, “My dear relatives the elephants, please go away, don’t finish our food.” The chief had to literally drag her away as she wildly protested, claiming that the chief was a foolish young man, who knew nothing about the ways of their people. The chief, a university graduate, labeled her claims, ‘cultural nonsense,’ which had no concrete basis in the world of science.
Later in the evening, policemen and the wildlife service personnel arrived armed to the teeth. That sight attracted more villagers who were expecting to see a replica of a war zone in the village. They tried to scare the elephants away using explosives, but they were not successful. The elephants kept on trampling upon the crops as people left for their homes. The elephants later left quietly at night and no one knew where they went.