We received a rousing call to arms from another clan and it disturbed the camp at our new village. I saw people walking around scanning the sky, looking in the bushes, turning over rocks, searching for the origin of this speech. Children burst into tears, cowering to the laps of wailing inactives. Archers ran for their bows, and swords were grabbed, and spears too, and all stood in readiness of some kind of attack from the spirit world (I noticed that we had a long way to go in the art of combat when I saw a young man with his bow back to front and three warriors were where taken to the witchdoctor with deep slashes to the hands after holding their swords by the wrong end). One man stood in the centre of the meeting house and swore never to smoke prairie weed again, while many others quickly packed their pipes.
I sprang to the dais and called for calm, explaining that it was simply how communications happened in this strange world. But, the people said, ‘What is that voice?
‘That is Tarzan,’ I said simply.
‘But that is a different voice,’ they called. ‘It has none of his usual blustery tones.’
I had to agree with that; we are more used to hearing that voice speak of detail, of rules, of acronyms, of delay, of obfuscation, but I said to my people, ‘It is what we politicians call a headland speech (or we will once we find a headland). It is full of motherhood statements and philosophical aims. I know, this sounds more like ourselves than something from the Simians.’
Later that day we had a comedy festival to celebrate the opening of the meeting house and the start of building the trading post. The two jokes that brought the most twirling and foot-stomping were these:
Why did the Simian grow a banana? … Because he couldn’t grow a pear.
There was an Ancestor, a Sauromati and a Tachyon in a tavern. In the corner, a local suddenly stood, frothing at the mouth, throwing up, leaking from every oriface. Quick said the Ancestor, give him some prairie weed to make his last minutes worth living. No, said the Sauromati, give him water, I can sell him some for a good price. The Tachyon looked around and found some of his kin and went to them. Later that week at the funeral of the man, the Tachyon suddenly stood and urgently shouted, “let’s have a meeting!”
I interdrummed Tarzan afterwards and said, ‘Mate, don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to piss on another’s parade, in fact I applaud your brave motivational oration and agree with the general thrust of it, but I am waiting for the follow up, for the inevitable 5-point program of action, the 2-page contract, the 7 trials that we have to undergo in order to prove our veracity. If your general call to action walks hand in hand with individual tribal independence and freedom, if it does not come with a list of provisos, then I am happy to speak further. It is, after all, almost an echo of much that I have been saying for months – expressed in new words, certainly, even couched in revolutionary fervour, but essentially espousing the characteristics of open and truthful and trustful cohabitation of many tribes doing what they want to do with the cooperation and support of friends. Essentially an Ancestors philosophy. I for one welcome that.’
Not so, the tribe. I told them that I will pursue this matter to see where it went. But they were not impressed. I saw many wise heads shaking and some less wise ones staring blankly in disbelief. The man who had sworn off prairie weed walked away in a pall of smoke.
Obviously I must tread carefully. We have a saying: A deciduous tree can’t suddenly decide to be a conifer.