All That and a Bag of Chips

This is a slightly edited translation of “The Elephant and the Ant” as told by Chief Mandala*

Mandala, Malawi

For Ms. Dallner’s Grade One Class and also for Beatrice, Samuel, Hannah and Jack.

One of the stories that my parents used to tell us when we were little girls was about Pride.

There was a time that an Elephant was on a journey travelling. Along his way, he met an ant. Together they journeyed and they were on their way going to a certain village. As they were going, they found that ahead of them there was a bridge. The bridge was made of wood and of some strings and poles and it looked very weak.

The elephant was a bit scared and said ‘how am I going to cross the bridge, it looks so shaky and I’m a heavy thing’ but he gave himself some encouragement and then he started crossing. As he was crossing, the bridge started shaking and the ant was afraid and he asked Mr. Elephant, ‘can I climb on your back because you are a big guy and that way I’ll be safe with you’.

The elephant was like ‘oh ya, come’. So they went along and the ant climbed up on the back of the elephant. They crossed going to the other side of the bridge. When they got to the other side of the bridge, the ant jumped from the elephant’s back and said to the people in the village ‘did you see how we shook that bridge’? The ant started bragging, ‘look guys, I am the giant. I am the man! I shook that bridge. It was shaking, it was about to drop’!

The elephant got so furious because he knew that it was all because of him and then here is an ant that was trying to be all that and a bag of chips.* The elephant was so fed up that he stamped on the ant and the ant died on the spot.

The elephant was trying to show the people that even though the ant thought he was so amazing, he really wasn’t. It was the Elephant who was the big guy and shook the bridge.

When I was growing up as a child, this story taught me to remember to be in oneness with other people and also to cherish kindness and gestures of other friends.

Always be thankful for what other people have done for you because if you are not going to be thankful with other people’s things or gestures or kindness then next time they will never lend a hand again when you are in trouble.

 ***

* Chief’s are the top leaders in their villages.

**All that, and a bag of chips’ was a phrase popular in the early 1990s meaning ‘all that and more’ or ‘something cool’.

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