The sun was fast disappearing from the sight of the clustered Africans, who stood on the other side of a clearing from a small mud hut. They eyed the hut warily, and when a little boy dropped a rock onto a boulder, they jumped at the clatter.
“Muabo!” Sebo exclaimed in a hushed voice, “please do not do that—you might anger the Great One.”
“Who is the Great One?” asked Muabo.
“He is the great witch doctor,” Sebo said, “He can do anything.”
“We are here because he can keep us from starving?”
“Why are we so afraid of him?” Muabo asked.
“He is a very great witch doctor,” Sebo said, “and can do many things. We are afraid of what he would do if we angered him.”
“Why would he be angry at us if he wants to help us?”
“I don’t know, but I heard that he has killed people for breaking one of the Great Laws.”
“But we haven’t broken the Great Laws,” Muabo said, “so why are we afraid?”
“We don’t know,” Sebo said, “and that’s why we’re afraid.”
“Why are we standing here? What are we waiting for?”
“Someone has to go ask the Great One to help us, but we’re all too afraid.”
Muabo smiled. “I’m not afraid. Can I go ask?”
“No, no!” Sebo gasped. “Do you want to be killed?”
“I’m hungry,” Muabo said. “And I think the Great One is good.”
Muabo walked towards the hut.
“No, Muabo! Don’t!” Sebo exclaimed, trying the grab him.
Muabo dodged Sebo’s arm and ran to the hut.
The Africans gasped and backed into the edge of the jungle, fearful, but wanting to see what would happen.
Muabo went up to the door of the mud hut, and asked to come in.
“Come in, young Muabo. Welcome.”
Muabo ducked inside the mud hut. He blinked. It was much larger in here than it appeared from the outside. And much brighter. He squinted.
“Are you afraid, Muabo? Come sit on my lap.”
Muabo saw the Great One sitting on a stool. He ran over and clambered onto the Great One’s lap.
“You are hungry. Why don’t you eat this?”
While Muabo chewed on the hunk of smoked meat, he told the Great One all about how they were starving, and needed his help.
“Why are they afraid of me?” the Great One asked.
“Because they don’t want to be killed,” Muabo said.
“But they are my people,” the Great One said, “I don’t want to kill them. I want to be their friend.”
“Sebo told me you killed some people.”
“Yes, I did, though I did not like to. They did not want to be my friend, and they broke one of the Great Laws. They defied me.”
“I want to be your friend,” Muabo said. “I think you’re nice.”
“That is your mission, Muabo,” the Great One said. “Your people need to know that I want to be their friend. Go tell them, and do not worry about food. Before you even asked, the answer was on its—or rather his—way.”
Muabo came out of the hut to find his people gathered around a great water buffalo they had just killed, cutting off great chunks of meat.
“He just came walking up to us,” Sebo said wonderingly. “Like he was on a mission.”
Muabo smiled. Like the water buffalo, he had a mission, but the water buffalo had finished his mission, while Muabo had yet to start.
“He did have a mission,” Muabo said. “The Great One sent him, because he wants to be our friend.”
And the Africans gathered around as Muabo told them what the Great One had said.
Inside the hut, the Great One smiled. Muabo was a good boy.
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