Every family, be it a clan, a tribe or even a modern society, has its own traditions and way of life. Each has a method of creating thought processes that become deeply ingrained within the most inherent of our behaviors. History, then inherence are woven in with new fibers of DNA; ensuring immortality for all.
You can embrace your heritage and flourish amidst the bounty you've been gifted or suffer the consequences of disregarding your own nature. Regardless of the path you choose, your past and that of your ancestors will remain, burrowed, into the deepest recesses of your core. These are the burdens carried within all of humanity.
"Mondi, will you tell me about the Wild Horses of Sandawe?" Called, Nelson. He was more than ready for their night time story.
"Again?" I asked in mock incredulity, as I walked into his room. "I'd wager that you know it word for word. Why don't you tell me the story?" I smiled, knowing full well he could.
"Mondi" was the first word he ever spoke. As he got older, and I'd correct his pronunciation; slowly Annunciation mommy. One day he finally responded, "Everybody has a mommy, only I have a "Mondi". I could only smile at his logic. He always had his reasons and I was proud to be his Mondi.
Each night, before bed we'd read about ancient civilizations. He found great fascination within these fables and folklore but his true passion was born on the night of his third birthday when I first told him of the Sandawe tribe.
"I'll go first then you can tell me the rest?" He stipulated. Smiling, I nodded in agreement as he began.
"Nine hundred and ninety-seven years ago, lived a tribe of hunter-gathers, called Sandawe. Their existence in, Tanga, Tanzania was documented as primitive and obscure, even by early AD standards. Though few had ever laid eyes upon these mystical people, everyone had a speculation. Some even claimed direct knowledge but nobody could provide proof.
Some said that they were evil and cursed by God; to never gain prosperity or fruitfully multiply. Many others said they are blessed; by the very hand of God. He had gifted them with a greater enlightenment and supreme peace. Theirs was a paradise, serene and majestic. Cleverly disguised in torturous poverty; their secrets were safe from the world."
He motioned my turn, "Now you tell me of Sharik. OK?"
"I'll tell you." I replied, continuing the story.
"The High-Priestess Sharik, was the most highly honored healer of all of Sandawe history and their Queen in the truest sense. Hers had been a noble life of service, as had her mothers' and grandmothers. Their legacy traced back many centuries. The Sandawe lineage was known for its purity, but only the direct bloodline of the High-Priestess was pure enough to render a powerful healer.
All of the High Priestesses were favored by God and gifted with the power to heal. Their praises and prayers would grow as flowers and all that surrounded them flourished with beauty. Countless centuries of Priestess-praise had created a paradise in the shadow of heaven. The Sandawe lived in bliss, only a whispers' reach from God.
The blessings of a Priestess were abundant, her burdens and sacrifice were equally so. Sharik had always felt a greater abundance burdens than blessings. From the beginning of history each High-Priestess lived her life knowing the precise certainty of her fate, down to moment of death. She'll learn from her mother until she reaches her eighth birthday then she'll learn from the elders and then the tribe. She will live a long life and give birth to a daughter on her eightieth birthday, eight years later she'll die.
This "noble gift" had always made her feel trapped as though she were sitting in a cage, waiting to die. For, the event of her death would be Gods finest joke of all. God rewarded The High-Priestesses with eternity in heaven, burning brightly as a star.
"A STAR??", was the only response Sharik could muster the day her mother spoke
Sharik knew she wasn't like all of the Priestesses before her. She found it troubling, nearly devastating, that they were all destined to lead identical lives, save a few incidental details."
Nelson interrupted, "That still doesn't sound like such a great way to spend forever, not to me"
"Imagine, Nelson," offering my usual response, "Being the brightest star that a person sees, a constant gleam to light their way, able to impart wisdom and guidance as they stare up at you, in awe, pondering the complexities of life.
To this day, they shine brightly on the Sandawe and those with purity of heart. The Priestesses were gifted eternal bliss. But, as we both know, Sharik didn't want to be a star either and was determined to change her fate. " I continued the tale.
On her third birthday, she was told of the proud heritage and craft of her ancestors and found it too confining to accept as more than a fable. Then at five she learned of life, death and eternity; silently she choked on emotion and vowed life would be different for her. She’d never, so easily, let go of her own child and couldn't fathom being banished to the sky as a lonely star for all of eternity.
She had always found comfort in prayer and her heavy heart wasn't lost upon her maker. It was her constant prayers and songs of praise that had earned her tribe the most glorious paradise heaven would grant was her unwavering devotion brought her but, her angry tears became sobs, drowning out the sound of Gods promise. She sought her peace by the ocean with the wild horses, admiring their unity and freedom, deducing they must be Gods favored creatures. The very thought filled her with uncontrollable rage.
Clenching her fists, she raised her arms to the heavens cursing Gods twisted joke. She cried from the depths of her tortured soul with all the fury of a thousand High Priestesses that suffered before her, demanding to know what her ancestors had done to procure such a mercilessly predetermined fate. Her anguished cry brought plague upon world that destroyed each and every source of warmth or comfort for all of man kind. Her torment ripped through the floors of heaven and angered her merciful God. He was a jealous God and her loss of faith
God felt her pain and offered release, gifting her 1000 years of freedom and 3 children. She would spend her years as a horse. "You’ll have a family next to you for, what will seem, an eternity. "You’ll run freely across the shore of the Indian Ocean. For a 1000 years your life shall be bliss. You'll spend the second 1000 year period as a star and your tribe will greatly suffer under your bright gleam. After the pass of these 20 millenniums, you will be reborn High Priestess of the Sandawe. It is your people that will begin to rebuild the ruins of your ancestors’ paradise."
To this day members of the Sandawe tribe see these magnificent wild horses galloping across the beaches of the Indian Ocean. Smiling, most are reminded of the childhood tales of a High-Priestess that destroyed the Sandawe paradise.
I couldn't bring my self to tell Nelson of the suffering we will face in 3 years when Shariks millennium of bliss comes to an end. Let alone, that it will last for a thousand years. For now, I must remain focused on keeping my vow to protect the book of Ancients and Elders. Soon the tribe will send for me and our struggles will begin.
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