Tribesmen by Dr. Caligari

Umbrella trees sat in large formations on the other side of the blistering valley. Abasi lay on a large boulder which clung to the hillside, looking onto a valley sprinkled in guinea and spear grass; they gently swayed with the breeze. The sun was setting and he saw black smoke from a campfire on the horizon, the smoke rose up into the orangey Tanzanian haze.


Abasi was a photographer taking pictures in the hills to sell online. He had just bought himself a hugely expensive camera with an ultra-long zoom and many filters which allowed him to take crystal clear images. Near the umbrella trees, baobab trees grew and he noticed two gazelles near a thorn bush seeking solace from the heat. It was still hot even when the sun was setting, at night the heat would bloom into a deep frostiness. He was wearing a straw hat, a white vest, and khaki shorts. To warm himself he had a small flask of whisky.


He focused his camera ready to take a good picture; he zoomed in deep on a high agglomeration of tall spear grass but couldn’t see anything interesting. He zoomed back out and tried to find those two gazelles near the thorn bush but they were gone too – Abasi put his camera down and used his naked eye to scour the topography. He saw large beige coloured dots across the valley underneath an umbrella tree. Upon focusing his camera again he saw they were lions: four females, and a large alpha male. They’d killed the gazelles and were devouring them under the umbrella tree. Abasi took a few snaps of them but the picture he really wanted was a one of the African sun at the perihelion before setting.


Then he saw some bushes shake and figured it would be more lions – he was wrong, three tribesmen emerged from the wilderness carrying primitive shields and spears, one tribesman had a handful of javelins; they were half naked and dressed in tribal clothing consisting of warm colours.


He’d heard of these scavengers before. They were rare to find now, those types of hunter-gatherers like their Neolithic ancestors. Most tribesmen had defected to the world of big cities and modernity, whilst others turned to agriculture. The hunter-gatherers would follow a pride of lions, wait for them to kill, then attack the lions until they ran – leaving their catch behind for the hunters to take. Abasi found them fascinating.


The tribesmen formed a strong line, as if Greek hoplites, and walked slowly towards the lions, trying to make themselves appear humongous as they marched closer. The lions surveyed. The females looked at the male to see what action to take. The male lion ran towards the tribesmen before launching a Hercule of devastating jabs with its claws and vicious snarls, but the tribesmen still walked forward managing to deflect all blows made by the male lion. The male lion backed off and roared. In retaliation the tribesmen threw their missiles; after which the lions ran, leaving the gazelles’ meat behind. The tribesmen collected the meat and ran off into the African wilderness – not knowing Abasi had been watching the battle unfold through his camera lens.


Abasi looked up just as the sun finally set, it was dark.