The character of Madala is introduced and the others learn a lesson about assumptions and letting go of tribal beliefs.
Themes Found in This Story:
- Judging others before you know them
- Letting go of old ways and beliefs that contradict the Word of God
- Power that tribal beliefs hold over African people, even believers
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” II Corinthians 5:17
Two lion cubs named Tshameka and Reë were playing on an old Land Rover they found in the bush. “Oi!” a voice croaked. “You kids get off my car!” An old chameleon was glaring at them, and quickly they leapt down from the car.
“Ow!” cried Tshameka. He had cut his paw when he landed.
The chameleon crawled down the side of the car to have a look. “Hurt yourself, have you?” he grunted. “Hang on a tic.” He scuttled up and into the car and was back in a moment with a roll of bandages. When he reached for Tshameka’s paw, Tshameka quickly pulled it away. “I’m not going to hurt you,” the chameleon said with a sigh. “My name’s Madala, by the way. What’s yours?”
“Tshameka,” the cub said. “That’s Reë, my sister.”
“Next time, you two should ask before you go climbing on other people’s property.”
“Yes, sir,” said the cubs together. “We’re sorry.”
“Well, there’s no harm done,” Madala admitted. He tied the last bandage on Tshameka’s paw. “Let’s get you home.”
The cubs led Madala back to where they had left their friends, who all jumped away and hid when they saw Madala. “Don’t be scared of Madala!” said Reë.
“Yeah! He’s nice!” Tshameka added, holding up his bandaged paw as proof.
Madala crossed his arms. “So, why are all you lot afraid of me, then?”
“You’re a chameleon,” said Maro, the dancing lemur, poking her head out of the leaves.
“Yes, I am aware of that, thank you,” he snapped. “Your point?”
Jos, the Abyssinian roller, ruffled his feathers uncomfortably. “Well, chameleons are bad,” he said.
“Are we, now?” Madala asked. He leaned back on his tail and scowled at the bird. “And who told you that, hmm?”
“It’s what all the stories say. You know, the gods send the chameleons, and then bad things happen,” said Kili the rhino.
“Hmph,” grunted Madala. “These two told me that you’re all followers of Jesus, yes?”
“Yes,” said Nyati, the cape buffalo.
“Mm-hmm. So the ‘gods’ this young fellow was talking about,” Madala said. “Do you believe in them?”
“Of course not,” Suloliko the zebra duiker said, shaking her head vigorously. “They’re false gods.”
“Well, at least you’ve got one thing straight. So, you believe in the One True God.” Madala said. “And you don’t believe in the false gods?” They all shook their heads. “And if these gods are false, then so are the stories about them, yes?” They all looked at each other thoughtfully and started to nod. “Then why in the world would a follower of Jesus believe those stories and be afraid of a chameleon?”
Nyati cleared his throat. “Well, when you put it that way, it does sound awfully silly.”
“We’re sorry, Madala,” said Suloliko. “It was wrong of us to judge you like that.”
“You’re right,” said Maro, sliding down from the tree. “As long as we have Jesus, we don’t need to be afraid of other gods and stories. Will you forgive us?”
“I suppose so,” Madala said, a smile creeping onto his grumpy face. All the other animals circled around Madala to welcome him into their group.
“Yay!” said Reë, clapping her paws. “Now we can all be friends! Oh, we’re going to have so much fun!”
And Reë was right.