Children's Fiction

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Sisimizi Amuua Tembo

Ant Kills Elephant

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: MPB Enterprises, 2004. 62 p. ISBN 9976-983-13-1. Ages 6-8.

Language: Kiswahili

Publisher: MPB Enterprises

This story is based on a common African motif of a small, despised animal killing a bigger and stronger one. Peace and harmony in the jungle are shattered when the animals allow their egos to govern their behaviour. As the author writes, "Hatimaye kila mmoja alianza kuonyesha ukali wake ili wanyama wengine waweze kumuogopa" (Every animal began to show his fierceness so that the others may fear him). Buffalo starts the trouble by engaging in a dance that destroys the grass. The other animals take up the challenge of the destructive dance and go even further by dominating and tearing to pieces the weaker animals. Leopard and Lion roar and scare the others, but when Elephant arrives on the scene, he hurls Lion to the ground and becomes the king of the jungle. Elephant forces all the animals to serve him. When they cannot tolerate the oppression, they conspire to overthrow Elephant, but none is strong or clever enough. Ant asks to be given a chance, but the animals laugh at him. However, he persists until the animals yield to his request. The clever ant tracks down Elephant at the well and crawls into his trunk. The irritation makes Elephant mad, and he thrashes around, hitting his trunk against trees until he collapses and dies. The story ends with the animals celebrating with a song in honour of Ant.

This entertaining story has an uncomplicated plot. Its main theme is that the big and powerful (dictators) can be defeated by the small and powerless (the subjects). This message is couched in simple Kiswahili with a tinge of humour, notably during the boastful show of strength from a series of powerful animals. The black-and-white illustrations are graphic enough to tell the story. However, the book could have been better edited by adding quotation marks to the dialogues in the story.


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