Apes and hyenas ruled the land in another place far away from ours. These rulers were heartless and cared for nothing but their own interests. They would often take the children of any dissidents as ransom. Any dissident who continued to question their diabolical reign would see their children slaughtered right before their eyes. All the animals shivered in fear anytime an ape and chimpanzee would walk along their path. Many others would kneel and beg for a tiny morsel of food for the apes and hyenas controlled the wealth of the land.
It so happened that an election would take place every five years to choose a new ruler for this land. Sadly, the system was in such a way that only apes and hyenas could stand for office. Humans, known as quiet dissidents among the many animals of this land, were opposed to this system but they could not speak out for they feared for their children. Lately, the quiet discontent among humans had been getting louder and so the apes and hyenas decided that it was time to put an end to this political menace for the last time.
Carefully, the apes and hyenas captured two of the most prominent leaders of this human unrest and forced them to stand trial before a mock tribunal. They asked the humans to vote for who would became ruler. Unfortunately, the choice was either an ape or a hyena as per the system. The first human in fear for his children quickly choose an ape. The ape leapt up in joy and said, ‘Yes. This is democracy at work. Can you not see how beautiful it is? Even the loser finds it just.’ The hyena replied, ‘Yes, even I the loser find it just. What a beautiful system we have.’
The animals gathered round at the mock tribunal marveled at the sheer nature of this democracy that even the loser would rejoice in opponent’s victory. ‘Truly, this is a great system,’ they whispered among themselves. What the animals did not know was that the apes and hyenas had a deal. Whoever wins the vote grants the loser close to half of the land’s wealth for the duration of his reign.
In so doing, there would be peace between the apes and hyenas and the other animals would be none the wiser. A few squabbles here and there would give the animals an illusion of democracy and so the apes and hyenas played these parts beautifully but in reality, these two were always close business associates.
However, the most peculiar thing happened in this land for the first time. The second human refused to vote. The apes and hyenas threatened to take his children as they had threatened others but he stood his ground. Then they threatened to kill him but still, the man stood his ground. Frustrated, the apes and hyenas put a knife to one of his son’s and immediately the man said, “I have no quarrel with you but if you touch my son then my wife, my other sons and my daughters will all rise against you.”
Then the apes and hyenas started to tremble with fear. Never before had an animal failed to succumb to the threat of his own death or that of his children. Then, they said, “you shall vote or we shall kill you and your entire family.” Still the man stood his ground but this time he said, “Then let my blood and the blood of those who die with me be upon those who choose to play by your rules. They are greater culprits of our present injustice than you will ever be. You, on the other hand, I pray that your terrible hearts may one day see light.”
This last statement startled every animal gathered in the mock tribunal. They began asking themselves, ‘Who is on trial here. Is it the man, us or the apes and hyenas? Why does this man curse us? His death is of his own choosing, is it not? We only exercise our democratic right.”
The apes and hyenas saw that the animals gathered round had begun having their doubts about the system. They quickly decided to end the man’s life and that of his kin before the animals realize what is happening i.e. before the animals realize that participating in choosing who is to rule them under the present system is nothing more than complicity in perpetuating the inequality and injustice that plagues them.
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