“So why is the Eland so big? And its horns – why are they so small?”
!Ka looks up in surprise. He and Vetfaan has been sitting in comfortable silence around the fire for some time now, and the question is quite unexpected. He shakes his head. This is difficult. To tell the story, he must tell Vetfaan about !Kaggen first, and he knows Vetfaan will have difficulty in understanding his words.
The Eland and the Kudu were made the same day. You can see the lines on their backs, which are the scratch marks the thorn bush made when they came forth.
“They came out of a thorn bush?”
Everything came out of it. All life. !Kaggen saw how empty the world was, so he made everything. They came out of the thorn bush, and some got scratched. The leopard, he got stuck for a while because the hyena in front of him was too lazy to move. You can see it: their spots are where the thorns pierced their skins. And the Springbok – he was in such a hurry, he jumped over them. A part of his skin got ripped off by the thorny branches and white hair grew in its place. It’s like that to this day.
Vetfaan wants to say something about Genesis, but decides to wait for a better opportunity. It’s rude to interrupt a story.
The Kudu and the Eland were brothers. They walked together. At that time, they both had magnificent horns.
“So what happened, !Ka?”
Long ago, there was a lot of water, First it was very cold, but when the ice melted, it made many rivers. There was a sea here. And next to the waters, a big crocodile lived. It was very fat because it ate so many animals. It lived in the reeds and the grass, where it waited next to the bush paths the animals had to walk on when they went to the waters.
All the animals were afraid to drink water. The crocodile seemed to keep on eating and eating as it grew larger by the day. Soon, the animals said, they would all end up inside the crocodile. So, the held a meeting. Who would drive the crocodile away?
The lion said it was too big for him. The elephant said he was afraid. The hyena laughed, asking what a small animal like him could do?
That’s when the Eland said he would fight the crocodile. He had magnificent set of horns, and he was the biggest antelope of all. The other animals were overjoyed.
The fight of the Eland with the crocodile went on for many days. As the Eland was so tall, it tried to pin the crocodile to the ground; but the crocodile was fast and very angry, so the horns only made large scratches and cuts in the thick hide of his back. They fought and they fought. Both got weaker and weaker. The crocodile was losing much blood, but the Eland was grinding his big horns down at a great rate.
At last the crocodile fled and tried to hide in the water. The Eland could only watch as the crocodile swam away.
To this day, the Eland is slow from the fatigue – it can’t run so fast. And it always stays away from dangerous animals – its horns are too short now. But the crocodile – the crocodile does not live on the land any more. It knows the Eland is there.
Vetfaan sits back after he’s told the story to Gertruida.
“It’s a story of our times, Vetfaan. Thorns: we have many of those. The thorn of history. The thorn of evil and crime… We were born in pain, but that didn’t prevent evil from living amongst us. When we tried to fight evil, it simply changed address. It costs us dearly, and it won’t go away, it’ll just find a new place to hide. But there is a moral – no matter what the cost, the rest of the animals benefited tremendously by the Eland’s bravery. One single animal, out of all in creation, had the courage to face the threat to their way of life.”
Boggel gets on his crate to serve another round. “Well, guys, we have our own fat crocodile. He’s eating up our country. He thinks he is invincible, untouchable. And one day, one day, the people will finally realise what is happening and they’ll work out a way to get rid of him. It’ll be a long fight. Some will win. Others will hide. And the scars will remain forever. But mark my words, the Eland is coming…”