Agoxo, the Lion-Slayer, was the Hunter of Hunters, the Scourge of the Wild, a monster’s nightmare, a beast’s regret. He was a bogeyman’s bogeyman, the fire that lit Shere Khan’s tail, the reason why wolves die famished. At the mention of his name sabretooths bowed; mammoths grew extinct; dragons preferred to be called flies when Agoxo was near!
A household name in the Six Villages, Agoxo had refined his art of hunting to the point where he had a subspecialty – lions. The tales that surrounded this giant of a man were the stuff of legends. His exploits were well known even by the unconcerned Weavers of the West. To the animals of the forest, he was Fear incarnate.
One legend had it that his greatest rival, also a hunter, challenged him to spend a night in a lion’s den. Agoxo agreed. He made his first marriage consummate in that den, with witnesses to attest to his feat. So amazed was his opponent by this feat that he gave his twin daughters to Agoxo to do with them as he pleased.
Despite his achievements in the open fields and his resultant wealth, none of his five wives could give him a son. Only daughters.
Desperate for answers, he turned to the spirits. The oracles he consulted warned him, that he could never have one, and that any attempt to do so would seal his doom.
‘A SON WILL BRING TO YOU GREAT TROUBLES’, they echoed.
“It is only a fool”, Agoxo responded, “who needs tutelage from the gods, on how to exercise his loins.”
Not being one to cower under the veil of a prophecy, he found another wife, and this time, was blessed with a son. Filled with joy, he named the boy Matata (meaning Troubles), as if to mock the gods, that he had solved that problem which they couldn’t.
Matata grew as a hansome young lad… perfect in all regards except one…he was always sleeping. He could fall asleep on his way to the farm; while he was eating; in the middle of a conversation; even while he played with his comrades. He was sacked from school before he turned twelve : he was too slothful to be taught. The farmers thought the same of him. So did the beadmakers and locksmiths. Soon, he was nearing manhood with no skill to boast of.
Even when it was time for his initiation rites, the elders refused to see him through. The boy was just too lazy. Before he could take on an antelope like his peers, he had to at least demonstrate that he knew a thing or two about the lores of the land. He couldn’t sit through a single training session. He slept right through them.
But Agoxo, annoyed by this treatment of his boy, decided to train Matata himself. Instead of antelopes, Matata will take down lions!
No amount of spanking, swishing, smacking nor insults could keep his boy awake. Agoxo persevered, for he was bent on shaming those green-eyed elders. Soon, it was time for a practical session. Matata will be a man!
That night was pitch dark as the pair crept through the thicket towards the lions’ den. Matata’s objective was to grab a lion cub, put him in a sac, and return to the village as a complete man. Agoxo guided him as they crawled on. They were patient until the older cats were far away, and only the lioness of the den remained with her cubs.
Agoxo promptly tranquilized her, and led Matata to pick a cub up. He left his insignia in the den; a formality. The two immediately began to run for their dear lives : Knowing lions well, Agoxo knew that it will not be long, before the roaming pack sensed their presence.
Lions could be heard roaring from afar, as the pair bolted breathlessly. Paws could be heard nearing the pair as they made their way out of the now deadly grassland. But in the heat of the escape, when their lives were on the line…
Matata fell … asleep. Agoxo stopped running abruptly. The lad had fallen under the weight of the cub. Lions could be smelt yards away.
Agoxo stood in a trilemma. If he left empty handed, his reputation would be stained and a son lost. If he picked up the cub, the lions will feed on his boy, and if he picked up his boy, he will not be able to run fast enough before the lions caught up with them both. He had to stay and fight!…
It was not the fear of a feline ambush that broke his mettle. No. He had faced worse. It was not the teeth that sheared through his flesh, like butter, on every side. No. He fortified himself with herbs before every mission. It was the disappointment in his boy. Even as he fought gallantly, he watched as his son slept soundly, as though in the comfort of his mother’s bossom. Seven lions were no easy feat, even by his standards, and he soon found himself using the sleeping lad as a shield…
The following morning the villagers woke up to meet a denuded and battered Agoxo, lying at the village edge and bleeding piteously. Beside him awoke a refreshed, relatively unscathed Matata. There were no lions to show for their troubles. Agoxo needed urgent care.
His career, indeed, took a nosedive that night : Left with only one eye, one hand, and one leg, Agoxo had ultimately been subdued. His vast estate had now been reduced to a mere hut. His wives were waylaid, by better suitors, and taken from him, one by one. All he had were his thirty or so daughters.
Agoxo often shook his head in disbelief. That boy couldn’t have been his blood. Never.
Unfortunately, he was right. But who cares?
– One and a Half Men
– So of All Animals, Lions?
– A Case of Narcolepsy