The na­ture of the beast is to sur­ren­der

CityPress - - Business - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­press.co.za

Please ex­cuse me, but I was re­ally pressed. My blad­der had reached its burst­ing thresh­old.

I am in Bal­lito, also known as mamba coun­try.

There are mon­keys ev­ery­where, as if they had come for a na­tional con­fer­ence of some sort.

I imag­ined that I was go­ing to wet my pants any­way. If I saw a mamba, I’d be so scared, the blad­der would just let loose, and I’d prob­a­bly be one of the 20 000 peo­ple who are killed by snakes ev­ery year.

“Where there are mon­keys, there are leopards,” a friend of mine, whose name is Happy, once told me.

He would know. He lives in Sa­bie — that lit­tle town that’s nested in the forests of Mpumalanga, not far from the Kruger Na­tional Park.

His wife, LaMa­suku, is a forester, and was brought into the busi­ness by her fa­ther, who prac­tised “take a girl child to work” long be­fore it was fash­ion­able. She now runs her own com­pany, Nandi Forestry, and knows that en­tire for­est ecosys­tem — from the an­telopes that live there and the mon­keys, down to the mush­rooms that most of us don’t even see.

There are no mam­bas in those tim­ber mines, be­cause it is too cold. The only snakes that live there tend to eat ro­dents, so they dash when they see hu­man be­ings.

One day, LaMa­suku told me, she was work­ing in the for­est and had to get to a meet­ing back at the of­fice. Like a true busi­ness leader who has her eye on sav­ing costs, she de­cided to leave the truck with the work­ers be­hind. There are al­ways vans driv­ing through the for­est, man­agers, in­spec­tors, and so on, and it is al­ways easy to find a lift. In­deed, she had hardly walked 300 me­tres and she found one. She jumped into the car and as they drove off, around the cor­ner, at a dis­tance no fur­ther than a tod­dler could run with­out fall­ing, there it was – a leop­ard.

LaMa­suku and the driver were shocked, imag­in­ing what could have hap­pened. She was trau­ma­tised and for weeks she couldn’t go back into the for­est.

Whether the leop­ard was stalk­ing LaMa­suku or whether it was a co­in­ci­dence is still a mat­ter of great de­bate at the Nkhoma din­ner ta­ble. He thinks the leop­ard wasn’t in­ter­ested in her, and was prob­a­bly not even aware that she was in the vicin­ity. Ev­ery time this topic comes up, I take sides, and stand with those who think it was stalk­ing.

An­other friend, Morné du Plessis, who is chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the World Wildlife Fo­rum, was driv­ing in Zim­babwe north of the Vic­to­ria Falls. He was with his wife, Lindi, and their daugh­ters. They stopped for a leg-stretch. Morné felt a lit­tle un­easy, and told his family to re­turn to the car.

Women – the men­folk must ad­mit – are braver. Lindi sug­gested that they stick around and take in the veg­e­ta­tion. Morné didn’t ask any ques­tions, he sim­ply took the kids to the car. Lindi fol­lowed, and as they walked back, they saw lion tracks on their foot­steps.

Ba­si­cally, a pride of lions had moved be­tween the family and the car. These lions were lucky, be­cause hu­man moth­ers are deadly when their chil­dren are in dan­ger.

All these thoughts had buried them­selves in my sub­con­scious and they all played si­mul­ta­ne­ously even though my blad­der was full.

As I ap­proached the tree, I heard mon­keys whoop and screech, throw­ing branches on the ground. I just said to my blad­der, “be­have”.

Maybe mon­key don’t at­tack hu­mans, but hey, I didn’t want to be the city slicker who got beaten up by a troop of mon­keys.

Some­times to sur­ren­der is not a bad idea.

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