The “Racist Monkey” in Africa

After rummaging through the very, green pastures of the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Manyara in Tanzania, Africa, I decided to plop down onto a beach chair, occasionally prancing to the shore to dip my “corn-ish hens” into the salty, crystal clear waters of the Zanzibar beach coast. However, before engaging in such relaxation, I wanted to cuddle baby tigers and chat with a cheetah over a cold glass of wine at the Cheetah’s Rock in Ngunwi. Not your normal way to relax, but that glass of wine temporarily relieved the implosive aggression that I held captivated under my skin. Crushing my lips together and attempting to refrain myself from displaying symptoms of the “angry black woman” syndrome, I could not be at peace with the words that spurred from the supposed animal trainer/owner, Jenny, earlier on during a presentation. You probably want to know, “What did she say? What did she say?” Well…not so fast! Let me walk you through it and see if your emotions stir in the same pot as mines.

Jenny was doing a great job. She had a ride that transported us to and from this safe haven for wild animals. Her accommodating staff greeted us with coconut drinks, while we waited for all of the paying participants to arrive. We later then started off with Chaka, the oh so lovely zebra. So far, I can tell that the animals were so well taken care of.  We got to chill with Chaka, and before we moved on to the next enclosure, Chaka and I were cool. I became a zebra whisperer. Don’t judge me. That’s how I felt. We exited the enclosure and headed to the next. My pride was seeping out of my pores, and I was almost sure that I was going to leave Cheetah’s Rock with having ridden Aslan’s back. Oh yea, Aslan is the great, white lion that was saved for a later encounter. We visited some of the other animals such as:  bush babies, lemurs, peacocks, hyenas, and others I will fail at trying to name at the moment. Soon after, we had the luxury of finally visiting the monkey. I think this monkey was one of the monkeys that had blue balls. What? No literally, in Tanzania there are little monkeys running around everywhere, and some of them literally have bright, blue male parts. I can’t remember if this monkey had them or not, but it looked like one of them.

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Now, that’s beside the point. I love monkeys. Especially, the small ones you can hold, but I later found that Manfred, the monkey, would NOT like to meet me because Manfred was a racist. Say what? I didn’t say that! That’s what Jenny said, while setting me ablaze with the fire in her eyes as she informed everyone loud and clear that Manfred was a racist, and if you are black with dark skin (such as myself) there is a strong chance that he would bite you. If you go inside, you go in at your own risk. Whoa…whoa…whoa…wait! What? An uncomfortable silence floated in the windless air. As adventurous as I am not, I was going to prove her wrong, so I went inside anyways…wishing a monkey would. She then went on as to why Manfred didn’t like “dark people”. He was supposedly kidnapped, abused, and almost starved to death by some locals trying to make a buck. She stated that these monkeys were usually captured to make money off of tourist who pay to snap pictures with monkeys, pet monkeys, or even get monkeys drunk at bars for entertainment. There are comments and reviews about her mention of her unwanted presence in Africa. Despite the lack of hospitality from the natives, she claimed to have left her native country willing to fight to keep these wild animals safe from these horrible people.

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This may all be true, although, I can honestly say that the whole time I was there, I have never witnessed such accusations, and none of the other visitors agreed to see such claims. You know what? I’m lying. There was a boy with a small iguana, and I am guilty by accomplice of a monetary transaction for a photo. Anyways, it wasn’t enough to settle my soul. From what I saw, about 98% of the staff at Cheetah’s rock were Africans, and Cheetah’s Rock is in Africa. Her rationalization was that two other black people were bitten by Manfred, so I guess that was careful observation to make such claim. Well, long story short, I was never bitten. In fact, he ate a piece of food off of my leg and went about his merry business. Unlike humans, Manfred took that day off from being a racist, because he probably later learned how stressful it can be. Maybe he just needed a break from it, or maybe he felt the effects of being stereotyped and felt like a hypocrite. After all, Manfred was a female. They later found out that Manfred was a she after being brought there. By then they got used to calling her that, and never bothered to change her name, said the expert animal trainer herself.

 

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2 replies »

  1. Keeping wild animals in the first place and then having them handled by as many people as pay to see them up that close probably is stressful for them. Maybe it’s amazing more persons of any race don’t get bit. Glad you proved the lady-of-limited-thinking wrong, though.

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