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The Lion King and George
When I first watched the Lion King I was knee high to a grasshopper. A young buck enthralled by the images, story and Elton John's awesome song "The Circle of Life". It wasn't long before the kids in my Grade 4 class told me that Sir John was gay and therefore I was also gay for liking the song, but that's another story and probably an interesting case study for scholars of human sexuality. Needless to say, I was unable to properly enjoy another Elton John song until I was 16 or so and realized that 1. Elton John is truly awesome, 2. who gives a fuck what his sexual orientation is, and 3. nobody can perform ‘Rocket Man' like William Shatner (check it out on You Tube).
Anyways, when I first watched the Lion King I rightly assumed that it was set in, well, Africa. You know, that continent where you can't throw a stone five feet without hitting a hippo, elephant, rhino or wildebeest. As I grew older I realized that Africa is indeed an entire continent and while those aforementioned species are indeed widespread, you can't just walk off a plane in Cairo and risk being stampeded by a herd of impala. Now, I come to the gist of this update which I am sure you have been waiting for while I rambled on about Sir John, Grade 4, and bigoted childish schoolmates. The Lion King afforded me my first taste of Swahili, the artificially created lingua franca of East Africa. I was introduced at an early age to words like rafiki (friend), simba (lion) and jambo! (please speak English to me).
I always liked the sounds of those few words and when one of my childhood schoolmates whom I always looked up to as an intellectual better told me one day that he would just love to learn Swahili I was hooked on the idea… unfortunately not the practice as I never progressed in my extracurricular study of the language. However, upon arriving in Cairo all those weeks ago I met our Kenyan driver George who was quite fond of incorporating Swahili into his day to day interactions with us Mzungu (white men). He taught me words like habari (how are you), mizzuri (great), asante (thank you). This was excellent preparation for when I entered the land of the real Lion King, Kenya and Tanzania where almost everyone speaks Swahili. It's great to be in a place where interaction in the local language is facilitated by an early introduction (go Disney!!).
Anyways, I wanted to make this a far longer update delving into differences between Kenyan and Tanzanian Swahili, Jambo vs. Mambo, and how I admire the guys on the tour who have really made an extra effort to learn a local language (John Stowe's Arabic is quite impressive)… but I have just been attacked by about a million bugs again due to the light of my computer in the night and just don't feel like elaborating on this idea with a few thousand flies scrambling up my nasal passage.
You are more than you have become
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