The Songs We Will Sing.

#57: The Lion Sleeps Tonight: The Tokens :1961

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I first heard a lion roar at the Tiergarten Zoo in Berlin. It was so loud that it literally shook the enclosure as the sound reverbirated. At that time I had absolutely no idea that I would travel to South Africa and visit &Beyond Game Reserves on either side of the Kruger National Park. But I have, twice, thanks to 2 of my adult offspring who have South African spouses and who have lived and worked on game reserves. I have vivid memories of sitting on the truck in the middle of a pride of lions with blood stained faces, manes and chests from last night’s kill (when we were there on the early morning drive they were sleeping it off) but they were all around the truck, one less than 3 feet away from where I sat. Or to watch lions mate in their pefectly free, natural and wild state -or to lie in bed at night and hear the lions roar, the monkeys in the trees screeching to warn other animals that the lions were on the prowl and the hyeneas’ laugh amongst other sounds of the African bush. These memories are etched deep into my heart because not only do they represent wonderful and amazing experiences, they represent the love of our grown children who organised these experiences and while we were at the lodges co ordinated everything and ensured we had the best of times.

We were fortunate to be able to go, with representives of The Africa Foundation, into an African villiage where we visited a kindergatren and were present at the opening of a community health centre. Hubby and I were the only white people there and the African folk had a word which they kept saying and it turned out they were talking to each other about the fact that they had white people in their community that day. It was again a wonderful experience, one which I am very grateful for, and to say that it opened my eyes to the way these folks live and take care of each other in circimstances which are so simple would be an understatement.

It also gave me some context to this song. If the village is quiet and the lion is sleeping, the village is afforded some safely. There is also a very sad story behind the writing and performing of this song by it original artists in the 1930s. I have provided a link below for you to read the full story.

“When Solomon Linda wrote a song about lions preying on cattle, he could never have imagined the ultimate irony—that he was inviting a much more savage breed of predator into his own life.” —by Bill DeMain

But for me this song brings flooding back most wonderful memories of the beautiful country and people of South Africa. And it also serves as a reminder that metaphorically “the lion” is everywhere and always on the prowl, seeking who he may devour.

2 replies to “The Songs We Will Sing.

  1. Thanks for this posting Estelle, I really enjoyed reading of your South African experiences.
    So sad to hear of Solomon Linda’s saga.


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