How Do You Catch A Monkey?

by Dody Gibson

Shaka Zulu was a TV mini series, also now available on video. It is based on a true story of a powerful and most savage Zulu leader, who united his people into a mighty empire. The setting is the spectacular and mysterious diorama of the Dark Continent, South Africa. Superstition, extreme cruelty and trepidation were the principles Shaka used to rule this nation. This culture was in marked contrast to the European expansion to that area.

Lord Charles, of Cape Town, sent a military delegation to Shaka in hopes peaceful arrangements would enable these two very diverse peoples to exist amicably. Shaka was motivated by courage, ancient tribal prophesies and the belief that he was immortal. But, though he was immersed in this mystical environment, he was unusually intelligent and had a sense of logic and reason. This even led to some religious discussions about the King of Kings.

Captain Fairwell had built a guarded closeness with this powerful Zulu warrior and spent time in his presence. He personally witnessed the chilling cruelty of this one man who had absolute power over life and death of his subjects.

The mission of Captain Fairwell and his companions was to bring these two antithetical nations together merging custom and respect for their differences. On a return from Cape Town, he came cautiously into Shaka's presence and awaited recognition.

Shaka was familiar with various inducements England had offered previously. After a long pause and without turning toward his guest and in his slow enunciation, he broke the silence.

"Tell me, Zebana," (his name for the Captain), "How do you catch a monkey?"

Captain Fairwell responded, "A gourd is used that has a narrow neck. The top is cut off and something is put inside, a piece of fruit or something shiny. He reaches in and grabs the bait. He then is trapped because he cannot withdraw his fist."

Shaka continued, "Once the monkey realizes he is trapped, why does he not let go of the bait?"

"Because his greed makes him blind," the Captain answered.

"And what is he greedy for," Shaka asked?

"I suppose for something he cannot have," was the answer.

After another long pause, "And what new bait have you, Zebana, brought for this monkey? I yearn for something shiny."

I immediately saw an application of this old African fable to problems of weakness in our Christian lives today. We all want to go to Heaven. We want to serve God and find ourselves in His favor on Judgment Day. But too often we want to hold on to some of the things that brought us pleasure before we obeyed the Gospel. The worldliness of sin is our gourd and it has a very narrow neck. Unless we let go of the shiny things inside and give our lives wholly to the Lord, we will not be able to withdraw our soul. We rationalize that little things are okay, such as; some forms of entertainment, some clothing styles, things we may eat or drink or some of the friends or places we may go.

Sisters, we must set a good example for others who are watching. Walking a tight rope may be okay in the circus but it will not work in a Christian life. Remember, the only way you can fall is down. Let us practice seeing how far away from the border we can walk, instead of how close we can come without stepping over. "I'm pressing on to higher ground. New heights I'm gaining every day."
Millstadt, IL 62260

Dody Gibson See other articles by Dody Gibson