Born into captivity, Nduna the lion, was quite used to living in the cage of the zoo. He had other lions to play with, food was plentiful and the lions were the main attraction at the zoo, life was easy. However as Nduna started growing older something deep inside him was awakening, he started questioning what purpose a lion had. He would ask the other lions and each one had his own answer however Nduna could still not find peace. He enjoyed life at the zoo as he knew nothing else. During the day when the other young lions were wrestling and showing off for the spectators Nduna would lie in the sun and search his heart. He starting tuning in to what it meant to be a lion. He would get urges to get out the cage and stroll to the antelope to hunt one of them. These feelings scared him, so one day he went to talk to the old wize lion Nyathi. Nyathi carried the scares of battle, he was once a wild lion captured and brought into the zoo. Nduna questioned Nyathi and asked him where these strange feelings are comming from and what it all meant. Nyathi was angry, how dare you question all the blessings we have he snarled at Nduna. Ourfood is plentiful, we are safe and everyday is the same for us we have nothing to fear. Nyathi chased Nduna away telling him to get on with playing and appreciate what they had. Nduna was shocked, this wize old lion did not have the answers. The situation seemed hopeless. Over time Nduna started hating the zoo, his cage that provided everything he needed to live had become a prison. Ndunas urge to hunt had grown to such an extent that every the visitors at the zoo and the people that fed him started looking like fair game to hunt. Nduna knew that something much bigger awaited him, that there was more to being a lion than living this sheltered life. Nduna grew angry, he didn’t like the other lions in the enclosure anymore, could they not feel what it mesnt to be a lion. Nduna would growl and snarl at the zoo keepers. The other lions grew fearful for Nduna and they warned him not to threaten the zoo keepers. He had to calm down, he had better not disrupt the peaceful situation and the way of the life they wer used to. Nduna tried, for the sake of the others he did his best to accept what they had and be gratful. His heart ached, something deep inside was crying out. Something had to give. Nduna went to see Nyathi again, please he begged help me understand, I do not want to disrupt your world, but I cannot go on what is this thing inside me? Nyathi saw the torment in Ndunas soul, he remembered the days hunting on the plains, fighting for survival, chasing hynenas, watching the sun set over didtant horizons. Nyathi realized that it was he who had died. He could make things right now and safe another from the same fate, that who give him peace and make him feel that these years locked up have been worthwhile. Nyathi sat and told Nduna of the world out there, he told him how good it was and what it felt like to really be alive. He told him of the dangers, the nights without food, the times when a lion struggles to survive and most importantly he told him of the peace that one feels when they are fufilling their destiny. Go out and be a lion my child he roared. Go awaken that flame in your heart.
Nduna went to sleep that night knowing where he belonged, however he was still in the cage and he had no idea where the wild was or how to get there. He also knew that if he every did get to the wild he would have to leave this life behind, that pained him, he loved the other lions. Would they every understand that he didn’t leave to spite them, he just had to leave to keep living. That night was the longest night of his life, he could hear the noctural animals in the zoo and he imagined hunting them, his heart was racing with excitment. He was also depressed knowing that there was no way out, now that he had seen his destiny and what it meant to be a lion, he was still stuck in the zoo. No matter how much he dreamed of being out where he belonged he could not get out.
Nduna was angry the next day and when the man who fed him came into Nduna cage Nduna rushed at him ready to tear him to pieces. Something stopped him just as he was about to pounce on the man. The other lions wer furious, how could he threaten the people that provided for him. They feared for Ndunas safety as well, the lions knew that the zoo keepers could not risk their safety and they would do something. They spoke to Nduna at length begging him to submit to the zoo keepers, begging him to think of his own safety, the people will kill you if you threaten them they said. Nduna agreed to calm down for the sake of the others, yet part of him thought that if the people kill him he may be bette off. That evening when the zoo keepers came to feed the lions Nduna charged again, filled with rage he was ready to take his destiny into his own hands, yet once again he stopped just short of harming the man. The other lions were furious and let Nduna alone to face whatever might come his way, they wanted no part of the games he was playing.
The next morning a nervous enegry filled the air, the entire zoo was quite and all the animals were restless. Nduna could sense something had changed. No visitors were arriving, each lion kept to themselves. He saw a small group of men walking to the lions cage carrying something with him. Nduna realized what was about to happen, he had overstepped the mark and the people were comming for him. He wanted to run, he wanted to cry out to Nyathi to help him, he was terrified, he knew that today was the last day he would see this enclosure, the last day he would see his family. The men stood at the fence and pionted the rifle at him, Nduna surrendered to fate, his destiny as a lion never to be fufilled. He felt the sting in his leg and involunatarily jump, his vision fading he glance over to the other lions, they were all hiding. Then it was over.
He could hear voices and feel his body being dragged, something inside him still lived, he still had a destiny to fufill. He still had a life to live, he was afterall a lion, the was a lion that said no to captivity and yes to freedom. He was a lion and he still had to taste the blood of a frsh kill, he still had to chase away the hyhena’s and steal food from a leopard. He wanted to experience all the things Nyathi had spoken of and more, he would not give up. He opened his eyes and infront of him streched the horizon that ran forever, there were plains and mountains, valleys and bush. Animals roamed without fences. The giraffe and wildebeeste grazed together, there was no cage and he was free. He heard a noise behind him and turned, and there on the Land Rover was the man with the rifle, smiling, his eyes filled with tears. The unspoken language of the universe connected their hearts and they understood each other. The man knew that he had freed Nduna to live his destiny, Nduna knew that the man felt his spirit singing. Nduna got up glanced at the man, and turned, with nervous excitiment Nduna walked out to start new adventures.
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