By Christine Nderitu
One lovely afternoon in the vast African jungle, the mighty King Aquila threw a party for all the animals. There was a large variety of delicacies and beverages, beautiful decorations all around and the best singers, dancers, magicians and comedians that the kingdom could offer.All the animals from the kingdom were in attendance. Other guest animals from neighbouring jungles came to represent their respective kingdoms at King Aquila's party. All the animals ate to their satisfaction, danced their troubles away, and made merry.
As the darkness smoothly set in, the king requested for everyone's attention as he needed to make an important announcement. When all the animals were gathered and settled down, the king stood up to make the announcement. He started off by thanking everybody for attending the party and moved on to declare that his lovely daughter would be getting married to a prince from a faraway land.
Following the announcement, there was a commotion resulting from the animal's excitement. The King's chief whip took the initiative, demanding that everyone be silent so King Aquila could finish his announcement. As soon as order was restored, the King continued;
"The prince, known as Rafa, is from the land of the Tigers. He will be arriving very soon and I expect everybody to show him as much hospitality as possible. The wedding day will be announced as soon as he arrives. That will be all......may the party continue!"
The crowd was too stunned by the announcement to resume their festivities immediately. In fact, what followed was a moment of pin-drop silence. As soon as the King Aquila sat on his thrown however, someone from the crowd yelled out at the King, "So you're telling us that you're daughter, Princess Mistri, who happens to be a lioness, will be married by a mere tiger?" It was Mbio, the fastest Cheetah in the kingdom. "You realize this means that if anything were to happen to your son, the prince, then the kingdom could potentially fall into the hands of a tiger from a foreign land who..."
Even before Mbio could finish his sentence, the very short-tempered Prince Kori, the King's son had already pounced on Mbio, immediately silencing him. Prince Kori was a master warrior and getting into a confrontation with him usually meant somebody would get hurt.
"Enough!" said the King, "the kingdom is safe, you need not worry about that. Now, can we continue this party or does anybody else have any other wise deductions about my daughter's wedding?"
Fearing the wrath of Prince Kori, nobody else dared to speak. The animals danced and made merry and the party continued as before.
Somewhere else in the jungle, Mbio had rounded up his friends to go discuss the issue of having a foreign tiger in their Kingdom. It was clear that none of them wanted Tiger to stay in their kingdom. They went down by the river to come up with a plot to sabotage Princess Mistri's wedding. Mbio's friends in attendance were the cheetah, the buffalo, the wolf and the hyena.
As they went about scheming and strategizing, the King's trusted messenger, Bubo the owl overheard their plans. He had been resting on one of the branches close by. She sat very still and listened in on every single detail of their whole plan. It was only after the meeting was adjourned and all the treacherous animals had gone their separate ways, that she flew off to deliver the grave news to the King.
On hearing the outrageous news, the King was furious beyond measure. He only calmed down after he was offered some sweet tea from the beautiful tea plains of Kericho. His decision? To beat the mutineers at their own game.
"How dare they disrespect my authority and betray me like this?" The King said out loud, "...how dare they discriminate against an animal they have never met or even known just because he is from another land and is different from us! Just how ignorant are these animals! All I need is strength and wisdom to deal with them justly!"
He thought deeply about what had transpired before turning in for the night. A few days later, the King consulted with his council of elders about the actions to take. The King took the ideas of each of the elders into account before they all agreed on one solution.
Meanwhile, the very excited Princess Mistri was busy planning her big day, totally oblivious of the trouble brewing in the kingdom. Prince Rafa finally arrived, bearing gifts for the entire kingdom and looking as handsome as fresh paint. Except Mbio and his friends who were still hell-bent on getting rid of Prince Rafa, the rest of the animals were easily charmed by the prince and his generosity.
On the eve of the wedding, the venue had been transformed into a little paradise of its own; thanks to all the decorations and flowers in place. Thinking that the time was right, Mbio and his friends snuck into the venue to execute their plan. But woe unto them! The King's security details pounced on them and arrested them in the nick of time. Later that evening, the mutineers had to face the King and the council of elders to explain themselves.
"I honestly don't see why the princess cannot chose one of her own" said Mbio, "In fact I'm offended that she didn't chose me yet I'm the fastest animal in the kingdom!"
"I only did it because Mbio promised that as soon as we got rid of the tiger, then he would marry the princess and make me chief whip!" said Nyati, the buffalo.
"Mbio promised to make me chief warrior once he became prince!" confessed Kila, the wolf!
"I was to be the chief food manager!" said Mlafi, the hyena!
"Mbio, do you realize that you're guilty as sin for committing high treason, a crime that results in very dire consequences?" asked King Aquila, "If I hadn't found out about your rotten plans and stopped you then, you would have caused chaos throughout the kingdom; maybe even started trouble between our kingdom and the Tiger Kingdom!"
"Oh but your majesty...... I'm very sorry. I now see the error of my ways. Please for..." pleaded Mbio.
"Sorry is what you're going to be as you rot away in jail! I cannot in my right mind allow such selfishness, greed and ignorance to walk around scot free in my kingdom. Judging from your actions, those three vices are clearly contagious and need to be nipped at the bud!" said the King, "I'm sure you'll set a good example for the rest!"
After the hearing, Mbio and his friends were sent off to Jail for a very long time. The next day Princess Mistri and Prince Rafa had a beautiful wedding under the rainbow. All the people in the kingdom made merry in yet another great feast! It was this very union that brought together the two great kingdoms that still prosper today.
Artwork by Joseph Barasa
First published in BINGWA Magazine Issue 10 2013