Follow this Blog

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Clock: A Legend from Africa






Few centuries ago, a so called "adventurer" went to explore the inner tribes of Africa. He was carrying a standing clock (now we call them grandfather clocks) with him, which he adored so much, as it was one of the most expensive types at that time. The clock, oak framed with polished brass lining, needed winding every 12 hours. 

On his way to the thick forest, he met a tribesman, Ondonge. Belonged to the Lemba tribe, Ondonge was a stocky, shrewd and cunning person with lots of venom in his inner soul. Ondonge used to roam in the far remote tribes and stole few belongings of those unsuspecting tribes each time. He also earned some living by helping the European expediters to rob the rich African heritage. Thus, he could speak many languages, both African and European.  

The adventurer, not knowing the evil nature of Ondonge, soon developed a close friendship with him.

On their way into the jungle, the adventurer showed him how to wind the clock twice a day and how to oil it, a more complex process, every 6 months. Ondonge learned this operations very quickly. 

As they were moving 100s of miles in the small jungle tracks, Ondonge volunteered to carry the sack of the adventurer and used to follow him few steps back. 

One day as they were crossing a bridge over a deep river, Ondonge, executed his long awaited sinister motive. He pushed the adventurer over the bridge and went away with the adventurer's clock and other stuff. 

Ondonge headed his way into a very remote tribe. The tribe did not even have a name so that we'll call them the x-tribe. 

The people of x-tribe lead a very poor but ultra happy life. They lived in caves or under large trees. They had no chief, no religion and there was nothing to worry. They slept when they are sleepy. They ate when they are hungry. They went on hunting or digging for yam when they do not have anything to eat. They danced and sang around the fire when they are overjoyed; may be when they hunt a kudu or dig out a large yam. They had sex when the hormones are accumulated....... The tribe had no sense of "time" at all. 


Once in a while, Ondonge brought them an old knife or a piece of cloth which were heavenly items for them. Thus, Ondonge was a man of respect among the x-tribe. And this time it was very special. 

Ondonge made a small platform in the middle of the village and placed the clock on the platform. Soon the news fled all over the village. A strange creature.... peculiar looking hands on the face..... The creature waves non stop with both hands in a very awkward manner. The whole tribe was there in few minutes. 

Ondonge addressed them with deep and grave voice. 

"While I was relaxing on the Rock of Gogola (a nearby hill), the Lord Mahra, the super power of jungle, appeared in front of me. He gave me this divine box, where his servant the Goblin of Juju is imprisoned. I will guide you how to treat Juju well and then the Lord Mahra will bring you prosperity. Otherwise, the x-tribe will be wiped out from the earth". 

X-tribe has never heard of such words or concepts. A barrage of questions started shooting out from the gathering. 

"who is Mahra and Juju",
"where were they for all this time"
"why should we treat them well"
"how can they bring us prosperity"
"how can they harm us if we do not treat them well"


Ondonge made a serious face. And with a horse voice he answered. 

"How dare you, black dwarfs, to ask such questions. Lord Mahra hates people like you who show such indecency. Do you want to be wiped off or be prosperous?".

For x-tribe, such harsh speaking was very complicated. They started muttering among themselves of what to be done.  

Ondonge sensed the confusion. He raised his voice again.

"You, my friends. Actually Lord Mahra is very kind. He is not bringing you any harm. He is here to give you happiness. The only thing for you to do is to make him happy".

X-tribe couldn't understand that they were already very happy. Thus, no one could ask "why should we get something that we already have, by giving it to someone ..... and someone of whom that we have never heard before". 

Reluctantly, but driven by the curiosity of getting happiness, x-tribe agreed to follow Ondonge's instructions.

When the hands of Goblin Juju shows 6 o' clock in the morning Ondonge strikes a kudu skin drum and every one gather around the platform where the clock is placed. Ondonge trained few selected people in the village to wind the clock. Those selected are the ones whom Lord Mahra has special interests, thus they are the blessed ones. They were also trained to oil the clock once in few months.

Ondonge used this gathering for clock winding, as a meeting where he can instruct the villagers. He instructed what the people should do as Juju the Goblin makes gestures by his hands.

In today's timing system 

at 7 am tribe eats breakfast
at 8 am they go to the jungle to bring timber to build houses
at 12 noon they take lunch
at 2 pm they start building houses and various other things taught by Ondonge
at 5 pm they go to nearby jungle to pick yam and other fruits
at 6 pm gather around clock for winding, during which he ask people about the days work
at 7 pm take the supper
at 9 pm a part of the tribe goes on hunting and others engage with sex
at 11 pm those who are in the village sleep 
at 5 am those who went for hunting returns and others awake 
at 6 am everyone again meets for winding the clock.



The synchronization worked well, although there were few hiccups at the beginning.

Soon every grown up male in the village owned a house. So they separated themselves into families; a new concept for the x-tribe. They had excess of meat and yam, so that they needed store-houses. They no longer have to run into the jungle for hunting when they get hungry. There were no time slot for dancing in Juju's timetable so that the time of joyful dancing and singing around the fire soon faded away from their memories. But x-tribe thought that Lord Mahra has given them happiness. 

As there was a compulsory time slot for sex, the population of the x-tribe started increasing rapidly.

Automatically, Ondonge became the chieftain of the tribe. He told the people that those few that he has selected for winding the clock are the blessed ones, thus others would give them some privileges such as obeying their orders, giving them the best share of meat, and girls that they like etc. The blessed ones, thus, naturally started thinking that they are above the rest; another new concept in the x-tribe. In return, they made sure that Ondonge gets the best out of everything that the x-tribe earns. 


Ondonge got a house built for him by others. He was given the best food. When ever he desires, he could get any girl, even a wife of any one, to his house for whatever the period he wants. He didn't follow the Juju's time table like others, cause he is the supreme blessed one by Lord Mahra. 

A large building was made to keep the clock on top so that the whole tribe could see it from where they are during the day. Ondonge said that it will remind them about the power of Lord Mahra, if they forget such.

Then Ondonge named the tribe after his name; the Ondonge Tribe. he said that the tribesmen should be proud of the name "Ondonge tribe" and they should stand for that wherever it is necessary.

The people in the nearby tribes developed interest in the Ondonge tribe as they posses many assets what the others do not have. One day, few people from a neighbouring tribe sneaked into Ondonge village at night and stole some meat and yam from a store house. They may have thought that it is easier to find their food in this way rather than getting such from the forest. 

For Ondonge tribe stealing was still a strange concept. Baffled with what they have seen in the morning, they went to tell this to Ondonge. 

With quite a serious face Ondonge roared "This is a huge insult to Lord Mahra. These baboons have stolen the happiness given to the Ondonge tribe by Lord Mahra. Next time when they come, will catch them and put them into a painful death".

The tribesmen were bewildered. One elderly man raised his voice "Kill our neighbouring brothers....!!! Just for taking some meat and yam?".

"How dare you to tell such, black dwarf" Ondonge barked at the man. "This is not just taking meat and yam. This is an insult to Lord Mahra and also to me, your chieftain Ondonge. This is an insult to the Ondonge tribe. We should take revenge".  Thus the concept of revenge entered the Ondonge tribe. 

From that day on wards a group of tribesman were assigned for home guard duties from 9 pm to 5 am. they were carrying the spears and bow/arrow that they used to kill kudus. 

After few days the home guards caught three young men from the neighbouring tribe who sneaked in to steal food. Ondonge asked to cut their hands and stone them to death. Many tribesmen were reluctant to do that but few of the young blessed ones accumulated enough courage to carry out the order. 

The first incident shook the whole village. They talked about that for days. But when there were few such incidents, the killing of a neighbour became somewhat ordinary.


One day, two friends of Ondonge tribe started a brawl over a girl and one youth attacked the other with his spear and killed him. Heard about this, Ondonge ordered the blessed ones to kill the other friend as a punishment. Thus, the concept of punishment was unveiled for the tribe. As the population is quite large now, the people did not feel the loss of two youths as they did earlier in such circumstances. 

Ondonge sensed that soon there will be eminent attacks from the neighbouring tribe, as the Ondonge tribe now possesses quite a big wealth. He knew the art of making weapons with his previous experience with European expediters. Thus, he ordered the men to make many types of weapons and also trained them in using such...... Killing the enemy. 


One day when the village came for the morning session of clock winding he told them that Lord Mahra has asked him to order the tribe to attack the near by tribal village. "In the name of Lord Mahra, kill all the men, bring all their wealth and women".


Ondonge tribe is now used to kill people. They obeyed the order without any opposition. The neighbouring village was massacred within few hours. They brought whatever the tribe belonged and most importantly their women. 

By the order of Ondonge all women dragged in from the neighbouring village were distributed among the families and the men were asked to produce babies out of the given women at their earliest. 

Ondonge tribe started expanding much faster than it did before.

The time passed by. Now there are frequent attacks and counter attacks between Ondonge tribe and others. There were killing of more human beings than kudus. Ondonge village has now been expanded extensively, both in land area and population.


A quite old man now, Ondonge sensed that it is not that long when the clock will end up its life and stop.  He will be answer-less when people ask whether Juju the Goblin is dead or has gone away. He also knew that sooner or latter the European expediters will reach there. They will explain the people about the clock if they see it.

One day, as the people gathered for clock winding, he told them that Lord Mahra has told him to bury the clock in a well dug grave and build up a closed structure on the grave. He ordered the people to never enter the structure or excavate the grave as Juju may come out and destroy the whole village.

The order of Lord Mahra was carried out within a short period.




Now there is no clock, but the entire village gather around the structure at the same time as they did for several decades. They don't need to look at the position of the clock hands or hear the sound of kudu skin drum to do the sequence of work that they have been doing for all those years. The biological clock within them synchronizes everything. Instead of winding the clock Ondonge asked them to kneel down in front of the structure and shout "Lord Mahra" in one voice, as they gather twice a day.

Ondonge died. Then one by one the blessed ones also died. However, the synchronization continued. Ondonge tribe needed very little thinking capacity as they were afraid to think beyond the process line. Thinking is the most dangerous and sinful act for the Ondonge tribe. 

Ondonge became a legend. Grandmothers used to tell their grandchildren how Chieftain Ondonge brought prosperity to the tribe. How brave he was in sending the tribesmen to kill the evils in the neighbouring villages who were the enemies of Lord Mahra. No body could remember the shape of the clock but they said that Ondonge, the great chieftain, had a divine box given to him by Lord Mahra.

....... And the legend never dies....................








No comments:

Post a Comment