Leopard at Letaba

Jonathan Kariara poem Leopard tree Africa

Came across a young leopard on a recent journey to Mozambique from South Africa. We took the route through Kruger National Park and the Giryondo Border Post.

We were just north of Letaba Rest Camp, headed for the border crossing…

Jonathan Kariara poem Leopard tree Africa

Leopard at Letaba (not in a Muu Tree)

Beautiful, no?

And speaking of beauty, here is a story about a leopard, or maybe about an older brother taking advantage of his younger brother? You decide.  “A Leopard Lives in a Muu Tree” is by the late Kenyan poet, Jonathan Kariara. I discovered it in a 1963 Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry (3rd edition) that I picked up recently.

I’ll leave you with that below.

Love, MarLa

A Leopard Lives in a Muu Tree
by Jonathan Kariara (1935-1993)

A leopard lives in a Muu tree
Watching my home
My lambs are born speckled
My wives tie their skirts tight
And turn away –
Fearing the mottled offspring.
They bathe when the moon is high
Soft and fecund
Splash cold mountain stream water on their nipples
Drop their skin skirts and call obscenities.
I’m besieged
I shall have to cut down the Muu tree
I’m besieged
I walk about stiff
Stroking my loins.
A leopard lives outside my homestead
Watching my women
I have called him elder, the one-from-the-same-womb
He peers at me with slit eyes
His head held high
My sword has rusted in the scabbard.
My wives purse their lips
When owls call for mating
I’m besieged
They fetch cold mountain water
They crush the sugar cane
But refuse to touch my beer horn.
My fences are broken
My medicine bags torn
The hair on my loins is singed
The upright post at the gate has fallen
My women are frisky
The leopard arches over my homestead
Eats my lambs
Resuscitating himself.

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