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Last Dance
Kwaku Sakyi-Addo (author)

Once upon a time? Time, time!

One day, Leopard came upon Tortoise in a thicket. Poor Tortoise. Leopard hadn’t eaten since morning. The sun had turned into a large, orange ball and was about to set.  

At least he could have Tortoise for snack before night fell, Leopard thought.

What could Tortoise do? He couldn’t climb. He couldn’t run. He couldn’t fight. He couldn’t even yell for help. 

So Tortoise pleaded with Leopard to please, please let him go. But Leopard said no, no he needed to eat Tortoise. He was rather too famished to let a snack go.  In any case, no snack, whether on a shop shelf or under a shrub, had a say as to who ate it. 

“You know I’m not a vegetarian,” said Leopard. “I’m not like Cow. I don’t eat grass. I like my steak. And I like it rare. There’s no one else in sight. What shall I eat if I let you go?”

“But red meat is not good for you. It causes cancer,” argued Tortoise.

“Ho, tweaa! Who told you?” asked Leopard.

“It’s true; they’ve proved it in Dimona,” replied Tortoise.

“Where’s that?”

“It’s in Israel. There’re some black people there who’ve proved it.”

“So what do they eat?”

“Fruits and vegetables.”

“Nonsense,” said Leopard dismissively. “Those are people. Black people.  Look at me, I’m black and white. And I am Leopard. Can you imagine how embarrassed I would be if Lion or Tiger caught me eating an Or a watermelon? Or le…le… lettuce?  Or bambara beeaans?  Whaaat!  P-l-e-a-s-e!” Now Leopard was furious. He let rip three wild roars. Grrrrrrrrr! Grrrrrrr!! Grrrrrrrr!!!  This was definitely not the Coke side of life. 

The die was cast. Tortoise was destined to be Pringles for Leopard. “Can I ask one small favour?” Tortoise pleaded.

“Don’t play games with me, you pathetic, old, wrinkled, bald reptile!” Leopard barked in rage. “What could you possibly desire when you are nothing but dead meat, hein?”

“I want to dance.”


“Please, Leopard, I just want to dance smaaalll,” Tortoise said plaintively.

“And then…..?” Leopard queried curiously.

“You don’t worry; after that you can eat me… even with ketchup on the side,” Tortoise replied.

“Are you sure?”

“Oh, wallahi! I swear la!”

“……Alright, Tortoise. Go ahead. Dance,” said Leopard.

Now, come and see. Tortoise danced and danced and danced and danced. He stomped on plants. He uprooted shrubs. He ripped apart tree branches. He tore the leaves. He squelched the berries. He kicked the rocks. He scratched the earth. He kicked up storms of dust. And when he was done, he mopped his sweaty, gritty, hairless, furrowed brow and stared up at Leopard with a brave look in his beady eyes.

“What on earth --- and the pun is intended --- was that about?” asked Leopard.  (This here Leopard studied a bit of literature too!)

“Well, you see,” said Tortoise, “I know that I cannot fight you. My fate is sealed. But anyone who passes this way tomorrow cannot help but say that a man met his match here.”

This must be Robert Mugabe’s game plan. 

He knows he’s going down. 

But he wants to leave a legend.

The original fable is published in Chinua Chebe’s “Anthills of the Savannah.” It is re-told here, however, as a Sakyi-Addo 21st century “remix”.

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Last updated at : 30 May,2012
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