Act 1, Scene 4: A Little White Lie


Uncle Makane: “Long ago a lazy hunter was sitting under a tree, fat springbok grazing below him in the clearing. Suddenly he noticed a movement in the shadows - a female cheetah seeking food! She moved closer and closer to the herd, singling out a springbok who had wandered away from the rest. Suddenly she sprang forward and brought it down with great speed. The hunter watched the cheetah dragging her prize to some bushes, where three bautiful cheetah cubs were waiting for her. The hunter was filled with envy. He wished that he could have such a great hunter provide food for him and decided to steal one of the cheetah cubs and train it to hunt for him. ”

Uncle Makane: “He waited until the cheetah set off to the waterhole, leaving her cubs behind in the bushes. They were still to young to be frightened of him or to run away. He first chose one, then decided upon another, and finally stole all three. When their mother found her babies gone, she was broken-hearted. The poor mother cheetah cried and cried until her tears made dark stains down her cheeks. She cried so loudly that she was heard by an old man who came to see what the noise was all about.”

Uncle Makane: “The old man was wise, and he became very angry. The lazy hunter was not only a thief, he had broken the traditions of the tribe. A hunter must use only his own strength and skill! He went home, and told everyone about what the lazy hunter had done, and together they drove him away from the village. The old man took the three cheetah cubs back to their grateful mother, but the long weeping had stained her face forever. Today the cheetah wears the tearstains on its face as a reminder to all hunters, that it is a dishonour to hunt in any other way than that which is traditional.”


%HND% Curtain - open

%AMB% AMB-06 - Campfire Night

%LIG% Lights on

%ACT% Kioni sits at the campfire [3-4], looking at the stars and singing a song

Kioni: “Jambo, jambo bwana”
Kioni: “Habari gani, mzuri sana”
Kioni: “Tuimbe tucheze sote”
Kioni: “Kiswahili ni lugha ya Africa”

Kyanga (off): “Kioni! Kioni!”

%ACT% Kioni stops singing, startled.

%ACT% A group of hyenas comes in from [1]. Two of the hyenas are carrying a spear on their shoulders, to which Lori is tied.

Kioni: “Yes? What is it! Oh, Kyanga! I didn't expect you back so soon. What happened?”

Kyanga (excited): “Lions! Hundreds of them!”

Kioni (alarmed): “What? You can't be serious!”

Kyanga (excited): “Well, actually, it was only one. But he had three friends with him!”

Kioni: “Aha. So it was four lions?”

Kyanga (excited): “No! The other three weren't lions. But they called for help, and THEN suddenly there were eight!”

Kioni: “Lions or Non-Lions?”

Kyanga (excited): “Lions! Well, five of them at least. And we beat them up! Well, actually, they beat US up. But we were faster than them!”

%ACT% Kioni sighs.

Kioni: “I see. Five lions and three non-lions.”

Kyanga: “Exactly!”

Kioni: “Okay. And who is *this*? Is she one of the three non-lions?”

Kyanga: “Well, when we attacked, the one lion who called the other lions went out of his way to protect the non-lions who were with him … and I wondered, why he was doing that? I've never before seen lions caring for non-lions! So I thought, they must be allies of some sort! So, when the four new lions came to help the one lion, we grabbed one of the non-lions, and … here she is. Shall we throw her into the fire right away … or would you like to talk to her first?”

Kioni: “I think I'll try talking to her first.” (continue talking!)

%ACT% (In the background) Kyanga nods towards the carriers, and they put Lori in the empty cage.

%SND% 0401 - Cage close

Kioni: “Thank you Kyanga. You did a good job. You may take the rest of the night off and get some rest.”

Kyanga: “Thank you, my queen! Your wish is my command!”

%ACT% Kyanga and the other Hyenas bow towards Kioni.

%ACT% Kyanga leaves.

Kyanga: “Good night, Kioni!”

%ACT% The other Hyenas go to both sides of the stage, beginning to perform everyday tasks. (Sharpening their spears, hanging up laundry, etc.)

%ACT% Kioni turns to Lori.

Kioni: “And now to you … hello? HELLO? Hmmm….”

%ACT% Kioni takes a bucket of water and empties it over Lori.

%SND% 0402 - Splash

%ACT% Lori coughs and spits, and wakes up.

Lori: “What … where … who are you?”

%ACT% Lori coughs some more.

Kioni: “I am Kioni, Queen of the Hyenas.”

%ACT% Lori stares up at Kioni, then jumps to the back of her cage.

Lori (in panic): “Aaaah! Hyenas!”

Kioni: “Yes, I'm a hyena. And you are my prisoner. Do you have a name?”

Lori (shivering): “M … m….my name is Lori … please don't eat me!”

Kioni: “Oh, what a good idea! Maybe that's precisely what I should do with a useless little critter like you!”

%ACT% Kioni opens her mouth, moving towards Lori threateningly

Lori: “Noooo nonono! I'm not useless! I can do a lot of useful things! Like, washing the dishes! Or singing! Or telling stories! Or …”

Kioni (sarcastically): “Oh! You're a storyteller! How wonderful! I love stories! Especially true ones! You don't happen to know the one about a lion and his three strange friends trespassing on our land in the middle of the night? Especially the part about who sent them, and why? Sundyata knows that we're patrolling the borders, and he also knows what we do to trespassers. Has he gone totally out of his mind now?”

Lori: “I don't know! I've never heard that name before!”

Kioni (angry): “Liar! How can you be the ally of lions and not know King Sundyata! Don't make me lose my patience!”

%ACT% Lori whimpers.

Lori: “I'm just an anthropomorphologist! I swear! I'm nobody's ally! Lionel is just my friend!”

Kioni: “Lionel? How pathetic. Who would name a child after his own species? Sundyata is the king of ALL lions of the Ogwambi plains. If you're a friend of Lionel, you're a friend of Sundyata, and that's precisely the kind of friend I love to have for dinner! So what's your real business here?”

Lori (crying): “I'm merely a science student who's recently arrived here. And the others are nothing but my friends!”

Kioni: “All right. It seems I'll have to take other measures. How about spend a day outside in the sun without water? Maybe THAT will loosen up your tongue!”

%ACT% Lori whimpers.

Kioni: “Naki! Naki? Nakisisa! Come here you little rascal!”

%ACT% Nakisisa scrambles on stage, carrying a spear.

Nakisisa: “Yes, mom?”

Kioni: “Where have you been again all evening? It's time for me to leave for the great nighttime hunt. I'll be back in a few hours. Until then, I need you to keep an eye this prisoner.”

Nakisisa (surprised): “What? I'm allowed to guard a prisoner? All on my own? To what do I owe this honour?”

Kioni: “It's time for you to finally learn some responsibility. So don't take it lightly. I'll be on my way now. If she says anything useful, let me know when I'm back. Okay? Take care.”

Nakisisa: “I will! Thank you, mom!”

%ACT% Kioni leaves to [1].

%ACT% Nakisisa sits down in front of the cage

%ACT% Nakisisa stares at Lori, holding her at spearpoint.

%ACT% Lori stares back at Nakisisa. No words for a couple of seconds.

%ACT% Lori realizes he's just a boy, and regains some of her self-confidence.

%ACT% Lori looks at Naki's spear, then up at naki, then at the spear again.

Lori: “This thing is pretty pointy.”

%ACT% Nakisisa pokes Lori with his spear.

Nakisisa: “Silence, prisoner!”

%ACT% Lori flinches

Lori: “I'm sorry.”

Nakisisa: “I said SILENCE!”

%ACT% Lori sighs.

%ACT% Another brief pause.

Lori: “So I'm Lori. What was your Name again? Nakisasa?”

Nakisisa: “Sisa! It's Nakisisa!”

Lori: “Well hello then, Child of the Shadows.”

Nakisisa: “Huh? What was that?”

Lori: “Well, Nakisisa means 'Child of the Shadows', doesn't it?”

Nakisisa (amazed): “Oh! How do you know?”

%ACT% Nakisisa lowers his spear.

%ACT% Lori chuckles.

Lori: “I know because I'm an anthropomorphologist!”

Nakisisa: “A what?”

Lori: “Someone who learns and teaches about all the animals' culture, language, history, stuff like that. All the ancient knowledge.”

Nakisisa (all excited): “Oh, you mean, like a shaman?”

Lori: “Uhm … err … a shaman?”

%ACT% Lori has an idea!

Lori: “Oh! Of course! Yes, that's exactly what it means! Like a shaman!”

Nakisisa: “Well, too bad the shamans have disappeared a long time ago! And on top of that, you're a fox. Foxes can't be shamans. You're just a liar, and I'm not going to fall for it!”

Lori: “But what about my ancient knowledge? I knew the true meaning of your name, after all!”

Nakisisa: “That's not ancient knowledge! There are many people who know stuff about names! But look at this.”

%ACT% Nakisisa shows Lori the pendant he is wearing around his neck.

%MUS% 0403 - Mystery

%VID% Show a closeup of the pendant on screen.

Nakisisa: “My mother gave this pendant to me when I was little. She's the queen of the hyenas, but even she does not know the meaning of the symbols on it. THAT's ancient knowledge.”

Lori: “Let me have a look. Don't worry, I'm not going to touch it.”

%ACT% Nakisisa moves closer, and dangles the pendant in front of the cage. Lori looks intently.

Lori: “Oh! How interesting! This looks vaguely familiar. Symbols like these have been used by many different savannah tribes. Well, perhaps not exactly these, but with a little guessing I might be able to make sense of them. Hmmmm …”

Nakisisa (mocking): “Hah. I knew you couldn't read them. Nobody can.”

Lori: “Wait, wait, wait! I see it now. Yes! I think the symbols describe an event that occurs at regular intervals, like every moon, or every year. It's hard to say, because the symbols are not very similar to anything I've seen before. It seems to be an event associated with advice, or knowledge. Concentric circles like the ones surrounding these runes often mean the preservation of something. Or a secret. Or both. And look at this … this looks like a river, or a path, which relates to either the passing of time, a journey … or an ascent.”

Nakisisa: “Oh come on, you're just guessing.”

%ACT% Lori gets out her notebook and draws a copy of the pendant inside

Lori: “Some call it guesswork. Some call it interpretation. What I see here is a relic used in an annual shamanic ritual that involves travelling upwards on a secret path to seek counsel, truth and wisdom. And look at this: An eagles' talon reaching down from the sky!”

%ACT% Nakisisa's jaw drops.

Nakisisa: “Wow! This is precisely what I've talked about to a friend just a few hours ago, and there is no way you can know about this! Unless … you really ARE a shaman! By Mwezi and Angani!”

Lori: “Yeah, I guess I know a few odds and ends.”

%ACT% Nakisisa looks to the left and the right, then moves close to Lori.

Nakisisa (whispering): “I don't know who you really are, or where you come from. But ever since I've heard about the legend, I've been dreaming to meet the lords of the sky! Will you show me the secret way?”

Lori: “Ehh … uummmmm … oh, yes, of course! But only if you let me out of this cage. My … uhhh … shamanic powers don't work in cages. All the pointy edges and stuff. Very bad feng shui! It totally screws up my reception!”

Nakisisa: “All right. But don't try to fool me. I'm a mighty warrior. I'm not afraid to kill you. You may be a shaman, but you're still just a fox.”

Lori: “Understood! I'll do whatever you say!”

Nakisia: “Then come with me.”

%ACT% Nakisisa opens the cage, and Lori walks out.

%SND% 0404 - Cage Open
%MUS% 0403 STOP

Nakisisa: “We need to meet with a friend of mine before we go. I hope you're not afraid of lions.”

Lori: “No, not at all. Some of my best friends are … eh. Sorry. Never mind.”

%ACT% Lori starts putting the notebook away.

Nakisisa: “Wait, what is that?”

Lori: “It's a notebook. It's like a … magic container. It contains all the knowledge and stories I have collected so far!”

%ACT% Lori picks up the book and opens it.

Nakisisa (excited): “Oh, stories! I love stories!”

Lori: “I keep hearing that a lot. But it's great, because I've got plenty of them! Have you ever heard the Story of Hansel and Gretel, by chance?”

Nakisisa: “No, never!”

Lori: “Oh, very good!”

%ACT% Lori rips out a page of the book, throwing it behind her.

%SND% 0405 - Rip, crumple, throw

Nakisisa: “What was that?”

Lori: “Oh, nothing, just a loose page. Come on, let's go. Your mom is going to come back soon, isn't she?”

Nakisisa: “You're right, let's go.”

%ACT% They begin to leave …

Lori (to herself): “I think this is going to be a very interesting journey …”

%MUS% 0406 - Ending Music


%ACT% They leave

%LIG% Lights out

%HND% Curtain - Close