Remember the Lions

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I am going to tell you a story about lions and men,

About life and death, grave danger and uncommon valour.

Strange incidents abound so stick with me to the very end.

I call upon the all-seeing Ngai10 who created this Eden,

Painting the leopard and sculpting the mountain,

To gauge the truth of this narrative and hold me accountable

Should I lead my readers down the path of the Deception Garden.

I call upon the spirits of my ancestors who were here when

The first sun rose and who continue to live through me,

Nor shall we leave this sacred soil, even if here be monsters.

May the spirits of my forbears help me narrate this incredible tale

And may Ngai[1] save me from embarrassing gaffes

As generously as He made my mother’s brother as tall as a giraffe.

Now in Africa is a country named ‘Kenya’ that borders the sea

And next to this is ‘Uganda’ - a smaller, landlocked territory.

A hundred years ago, both nations were under the British flag

And the Brits were eager to control the powerful river Nile.

The trick was to build a railway line from the Indian Ocean,

Across Kenya, to Lake Victoria, mother of the Nile.

The task looked pretty simple on paper and had

The added bonus of linking up the two colonies.

Several British engineers were ordered to pack their bags,

One of them being a brilliant young man named J. Patterson.

As Lieut-Col. Patterson – mark him well - prepared to leave England

He was giddily excited about the experiences close at hand

But little did he know that in his designated part of Africa,

Huge man-eating lions were patrolling the thorn-bush land

Like the Devil looking for souls to devour.

On arrival, a most agreeable sight greeted the visitor:

Arabian dhows sliced the ocean’s surface like the dorsal fins of sharks;

Bone-white coral reefs jutted out of glassy emerald waters;

Palm trees were green fireworks going off over white sands;

In the narrow streets, ebony-skinned men exchanged salaams;

Bejewelled women carried baskets overflowing with fruits and spices

And the just and unjust alike were warmed by a tropical sun.

Still, nobody informed Patterson that in this very paradise

There lived nine-foot lions with fire in their eyes…

Patterson’s workforce consisted not of Africans but Indians

Who were specially shipped in to lay the railroad tracks

And the coolies[2] were equally struck by this side of the Indian Ocean

Where certain flightless birds grew taller than men,

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⏰ Last updated: Jan 17, 2012 ⏰

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