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The Price of Ignorance
One day, a beautiful snow-white horse named Bakari stood tied to the post where his Master had had left him for perhaps the hundredth time. In the distance, he saw a pack of zebras grazing freely on the plains. He admired their glossy black stripes from afar. Bakari desperately wished his white body had those majestic stripes. The way the zebras’ manes fluttered in the wind made Bakari want to become one of them more by the second. Most of all, Bakari envied the zebras’ freedom. He yearned every day to run free across the plains, never worrying about his Master’s demands.
He muttered to a fly named Rafiki, who loved to buzz around him, “One day I will join the zebras. There is not a moment I do not think about it. I yearn to be free!” Yet, Bakari’s time to dream was short as his Master soon returned, ready to ride. Nevertheless, Bakari was chanting the word freedom from that day on.
As the days turned into months, Bakari was still not free, never mind a zebra. One cool day, his Master tied him to a pole in a field while he conducted business in a neighboring village. Bakari stood there wishing the rope would magically fall from his neck. Soon, Rafiki came buzzing around and landed on Bakari’s shoulder. He seemed particularly excited, but Bakari did not think much of it.
“Hey there, my friend. Have I got news for you!” said Rafiki.
In Bakari’s most sarcastic voice he said, “What could it possibly be Rafiki?”
“ I was buzzing about,” said the fly, “near a pack of zebras.” Hearing the word zebras, Bakari’s face lit up. Rafiki continued, “I told them about you. I told them about your craving to join the zebras. I told them about your desire to be free on the plains. They listened to me. And guess what? The pack wants you to join them and be free…”
“You have to be joking with me. This must be a dream,” interrupted Bakari.
“No, friend,” responded Rafiki, “This is no joke. The herd is on its way right now. They will set you free to join them…” Again, the fly was interrupted. This time, it was not by Bakari. Instead, it was by the thunder of zebra hooves as they raced across the field towards the two. The pack was about twenty big, all with perfect white and black bodies. In no time at all, the herd arrived. As the stallion stepped forward, Bakari could barely believe his good fortune.
“My name is Shaka. I am the stallion of this herd. Rafiki is a friend of mine, and I speak to him often. He told me of your desire to join us. Is this true? If so, we will set you free and allow you to live with us on the plains, as nature intended us all to be.”
Barely able to speak, Bakari said, “Yes, sir. It has always been my dream to be a zebra. It would bring me nothing but sheer joy for that dream to be fulfilled.”
Solemnly, Shaka stated, “Then it shall be.” With that, the herd set to work. First, the zebras began chomping on the rope tied to Bakari. Within minutes, the zebras’ teeth, which were strong from a diet of wild grass, chewed through the rope.
Bakari was free. For a moment, he was too stunned to react. Then, the herd, surrounding him for protection, began to gallop back towards the direction from which they had come. Bakari ran as fast as his legs could carry him, his heart pounding from excitement. Every muscle in his body felt a rush of adrenaline as he and the zebras were soon out of sight on their way to the plains. By the time his Master returned to find him mysteriously gone, Bakari had galloped with the herd farther than he had ever been before. He was finally with the zebras on the plains. He was free and deliriously happy.
Bakari began to prance around the field shouting and hooting with joy. However, he did not notice the rest of the zebras looking nervous and huddling together into a tight clump. He was even more oblivious to the lions sneaking up from behind. Rafiki, who was buzzing above the group, saw the next scene unfold before it actually happened.
He shouted to Bakari, “Look behind you! Run!” But, it was too late. As the pack of zebras took off together, the claws of the first lion sunk into Bakari’s back. Faster than lightening, he was pinned to the ground by three ravenous lions. Growling and snarling, the leader of the three, Mustafa, paced around Bakari’s restrained body.
Bakari shouted, “What are you doing? I am a horse, not a zebra. I never heard of a lion eating a horse. You have to leave me alone!”
The lion replied, “I must correct you, my entrée. Here on the plains, I do what I want and eat whatever looks appealing to me. Though I have never eaten a horse before, I see no reason why you will not be delectable.” With that, Mustafa signaled to the other lions that it was chow time, and the meal began.
Once the three lions were satisfied, Mustafa spoke again, “My brothers, I feel that it is important to take two pieces of information out of this experience. One is that horses are just as delicious as zebras, if not more. The other is that you must always look before you leap. Otherwise, you might land in someone else’s stomach!”