Sunday, February 22, 2015

He is greater than the greatest! (YH#2)

                                                                                         Attribution: Yusuf Hashim
Image: Courtesy of Yusuf Hashim - A Mursi boy (here)

Modern Day Explorer #2
Modern Day Explorer #1 (here)

Yusuf Hashim says:
This is a Mursi boy, who couldn't be more than 12 years old, with an AK47 Kalashnikov on his shoulder. He demanded money when I shot this photo of him. I didn't want to argue with that globally acclaimed widow-maker, so I gave him 20 Birrs for this photo. That's equivalent to about 50 cents
The wealth of most African tribal people is based on cattle ownership. There's lots of inter-tribal cattle stealing going on and that AK47 is being used for guarding the family's herd. An AK47 is usually part of the bridal gifts that a young man wanting to marry, has to give to the bride's family, including probably 20 to 30 cattle.

You need to go to Africa to see how much the cow is revered in rural Africa. Wealth is measured by the number of cows one has. Among the Surmas and the Mursis and Suris, cows are seldom slaughtered for meat. Instead, they drink cow's blood mixed with meat. Cow poo is sacred and not unclean. Fresh cow poo is often smeared over the face and body for medicinal purposes. Prior to milking a cow, the hands are often washed with fresh cow urine.

The given words:
tiny perched uncut umbrella delicate
post river petals blue yearning hopeless

He’s the greatest
Unlike Muhammad Ali
He’s tiny not  muscular nor a fighter
But with an AK47 perched on his shoulders
He is greater than the greatest

Uncut diamond barely 12 years of age
He provides the umbrella
To safeguard his family’s wealth
A man’s job entrusted into delicate hands

He’ll be at his post by the river
Petals of flowers red and blue
Surrounding the country-side
Provide the color besides
the body and facial decoration

This is a man’s job
for the future man of the household
His yearning for 20 heads of cattle
is not a hopeless cause
Not at all!

For Brenda's hosting at Sunday Whirl
Wordle #200 with the given words
and Mary's at PU's Poetry Pantry #240


  1. This could be read as tragedy..instead the ending shows how wonderful determination of spirit can be

  2. An AK47 is usually part of the bridal gifts... Say it ain't so, Hank. Love and violence go hand in hand.

  3. My ocd would give me a heart attack there, cow poo on the face and washing in cow urine? Blah, shiver thinking about that haha AK47 though, sad the way things work.

  4. I have to say that this use of an Ak-47 is a lot better than most I have seen..

  5. Coming from a major ag area I can appreciate this young man's hope (and responsibility.) There is value in the land that can be robbed in a moment and all aspiration with it.
    An excellent snap shot of this young man in image and words. What a trip - I envy you!

    1. Our young men had rifles to protect the ranches an AK-47 would be overkill

  6. the thought of kids needing an AK47 is rather disheartening...i was hoping he was not a boy soldier...i guess though that if he dreams of cattle that may carry him through...

  7. AK47 in the hands of a twelve year old boy to safeguard family's wealth seems to be the cover of a book...the story is yet to be very sad...

  8. I like that you see him as greater than great. At age twelve, he is protecting his family's assets and his own future. That is a grave responsibility,


  9. I was relieved this was not a child soldier. His face is so tender and beautiful. This was a very interesting read, Hank, a glimpse of life in that area. Really good stuff.

  10. I will hold out hope that this boy eventually will turn into a man who could protect his cattle without the use of an AK-47.

  11. some children have to grow up too soon.

  12. An extraordinary window onto his world. Thank you.

  13. Thank You for this remarkable post!

    ALOHA from Honolulu

  14. This was a post at it's very best. Wonderful to read, Well done Hank.

  15. I really enjoyed the background notes and picture Hank ~ I appreciate on what is called a treasure in their lands - interesting to note that the cow is not slaughtered yet revered ~

  16. Oh how the world has changed and the weapons more deadly even for protecting and demanding payment. A child asked to be a man too soon.

  17. glad you included the preface info, i was able to appreciate the poem in depth
    have a lovely SUnday

    Thanks for linking in to my Sunday Lime

    much love

  18. An AK-47 in the hands of a child, or an adult for that matter, is always worrying and sad. I pray for the day when they will no longer need these deadly weapons.

  19. Excellent! Very, very interesting.

  20. Hank,

    This was a very interesting and educating piece of poetry and information. Sad that AK47s are a part of that way of life, especially to the requirements of such a young boy. The old traditions are respected and retained. Amazing in this world of such fast-paced changes..

  21. This both beautiful and sad, mainly because we don't understand how the other half (or more) of the world thinks and acts. For all of globalisation we still are little wiser. Great post Hank.

  22. This really brings home how little we know of other cultures.

  23. sometimes we need to understand why these children has to work instead of going to school. a powerful piece

  24. The understanding we get from travel and conversations is so great. Well written

  25. He is blessed to have cattle to guard. I like the fact that a rifle can be part of a dowry or a bride price. I have learned of cow manure taking the sting out of insect bites accidentally.

    Even within these United States our cultures vary greatly.We can all learn much from each other. After all we are One.

  26. This poem is a marvelous creation, tender and ironic that death should bring hope of life. What country/area of Africaa is this Mursi child?

    1. Would have to ask Yusuf for the answer. Don't really know! Good that you asked


  27. I'd pay the kid to take his photo too. No sense courting disaster! You've been in some unlikely places, Hank, and you tell some wonderful tales!