UJIMA Collective Work and Responsibility

The Great Drum

The lion sent out a message for all the animals to come to a very special meeting. Messengers went far and wide to spread the news of this meeting. As soon as the animals heard the message, they hurried right away to the council circle. It was about three weeks before they were all gathered. The lion was very disappointed.

"We have got to find a way to get everyone together more quickly!" shouted the lion.

Anansi had an idea. "What we need," he explained, "Is a great drum, one that can be heard all over the forest. When the great drum is sounded, everyone will know right away and come swiftly to meetings."

Everyone agreed that this was a fine idea. The animals were divided into groups, each group taking on a different part in the construction of the drum. The first group cut down a large tree.

The second group trimmed off all the branches. The next group hollowed out the tree. Then sculptors worked to decorate the drum. They worked hard through many days. On their way home at the end of each day, they would sing;

Life is labor,

We are tired and hot,

We work so hard,

Because we work for our people.

Everyone worked except the monkey. While the others labored, he found a nice shady spot to hide and eat berries all day long.

When they were on their way back to the village, Monkey would join them as though he had been working with them all along.

Monkey sang:

Life is labor,

I am tired and hot,

I work so hard,

Because I work for my people.

Anansi watched and knew exactly what Monkey was doing, but Anansi said nothing. When the Great Drum was finished, it had to be brought to the council circle. The problem was that the Drum was very heavy and no one wanted to carry it. It was then that

Anansi spoke up.

"Since no one wants to carry the Great Drum and we have all worked so hard already, I suggest that the laziest person among us carry the Drum."

All the animals thought this was a good plan. Each of them looked around, trying to think who among them was laziest. Who hadn't they seen working? First one looked at Monkey, then another and soon all eyes rested on the monkey.

Monkey stepped out into the center of the circle and announced, "I just want to make one thing perfectly clear. I will not carry that drum!"

All the animals laughed. Anansi said, "No one mentioned your name, Monkey. All we said was that the laziest person should carry the Drum."

People were wondering to themselves, who was laziest among them. But the monkey did not have to wonder. He knew very well who was laziest. He came forward and made it clear when he spoke.

So it was agreed that the monkey had to carry the Great Drum to the council circle

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