Confidence of Champions IV: Powerful Stories from the Jungles of Africa
By Chris Kanyane
Every night before I go to sleep I practice this visualization: I close my eyes and visualize myself flying with the eagles high in the sky. I visualize myself leading the eagles in the sky. I hear myself flapping my strong wings and soaring the sky. I feel myself powering through the strong wind. I feel myself basking in the quietness of the higher skies.
You know why I picture myself as an eagle? As a young boy in the jungles of Africa I used to hunt. And in my hunting expeditions I saw the behavior of eagles.
I still remember the first time (as a young African boy in the jungle hunting) I came face to face with an eagle. It was in the mist of the storm. There was this powerful storm and this eagle was powered down this storm. It was standing on a shrub starring at me. And I thought to myself, "Well, don't get excited; he is not going to hurt you." With that assurance I approached near to the eagle silently and began to study it.
I found out that the eagle is a very odd bird. His feathers are so tight you can't pull them out with a pair of pliers. He is a huge mammoth bird, one of the biggest there is. I looked at him, his great big gray-looking eyes. There was a squirrel nearby making noise, "chatter, chatter, chatter." The eagle was not noticing that squirrel so much; he was watching me. I could see those great big eyes watching me. He was not afraid of me. He just looked up at me like that. I kept noticing him feeling his wings. I said to myself, "I see now. That is the reason. You're not afraid of me, because that God gave you those two powerful wings; and you know good and well you could be high in the blue sky there, before I could even pierce you with my sharp arrow."
I watched the eagle for a length of time. And he saw that I loved him too much, that I wasn't going to hurt him. And so, he wasn't afraid of me, but he just got nauseated with that "chatter, chatter, chatter; chatter, chatter, chatter" of the squirrel. He eventually got tired of it, so he just made one great big jump, flopped his wings about twice and was away in the sky.
That big eagle never flopped his wings anymore. I kept watching it. His wings spread fourteen feet from tip to tip. He just seemed to know how to set his wings, and every time the storm would come in, he would ride up higher. And the storm would come in; he would ride higher. And I stood there and watched him till he became just a little bitty speck. He got tired of that, "chatter, chatter, chatter" of the squirrel!
So the daily visualization reminds me of this encounter I had hunting in the jungle. Since that encounter I told myself that I will not be a squirrel going "chatter, chatter, chatter" while eagles are soaring the sky. If that squirrel with its "chatter, chatter, chatter" tried to follow the eagle, he would have disintegrated in the air. The feathers would fall out of him and he would be blind when he got up there.
So when I grew up to be a man and living in the big city of Africa, Johannesburg, I visited the Johannesburg Zoo. Before visiting Johannesburg Zoo I often heard stories of how animals are caged, and I hated those stories very much. I thought, "I don't like to see animals in a cage - I like animals and birds free, where they can roam the jungles and fly freely."
I arrived at the Johannesburg Zoo and paid the required fare. I started to walk around the Zoo looking at the baboons, monkeys, secretary birds and so on. After roughly an hour I got tired and looked around for the canteen I saw earlier to buy a soft drink. As I looked around I nearly collapsed and died on the spot when I saw a big eagle in a cage. I thought, "That is the saddest sight I ever seen." That great big fellow, he was laying there on the floor when I got up to him. His great wings laid out. The feathers were all beaten off his head and around his neck and over the ends of his wings. I looked at him. He crawled across the cage. He looked back across the cage like that. Here he comes...! And he hit that cage with his head and wings with a blast. The feathers would fly; he would fall back. And then he'd get up again; he dropped back this a way and he looked up. And he flew just as hard as he could, and hit his wings and head against the cage, and fell back. He laid there and his big eyes rolled around, looking up. Lying there, looking up in the sky where he really ought to be, where his heart longed to be; but these bars were placed between him and that vision.
Oh, I thought, "That's one of the saddest sights I could look at." You see an eagle is a heavenly bird. He was born to soar the sky; and here, by the trickery and devices of man, he is caged up. He is a heavenly bird; he knows nothing about the ground, like I am a horse's uncle. If I had the authority or enough money and time, I would have bought that old eagle and let him go. Let him go free where he wants to.
This scene of a caged eagle reminded me of a story my mother told me while still young... Long ago a man working in the corn field caught an old crow and tied it up. After some months, and beginning to be winter, the other crows began to fly over and said, "Come on, Johnny Crow, let us go south; let us go south; the winter is coming."
The old crow had become so poorly, he could hardly walk. A good man came by at that time and felt sorry for the old crow and cut him loose. And when he did, the other crows came overhead and said, "Come on, Johnny Crow, let us go south." But he had been tied so long he had forgotten he could fly and said, "I can't do it; I can't do it." He didn't know he was free.
The moral is obvious.