When the Lion Feeds

The well read person will recognize the headline as the title of a book by famous South African author Wilbur Smith in his very first historic novel.  He would go on with the theme from there to publish more than 20 follow ups of which most were translated and published in a fair number of languages and the author became a household name amongst international publishers.

Wilbur Smith did not explain his choice of title in the book and that only became known after the Afrikaans work was published under the title “Iets moet Sterf” [literarily “Something has to die”] in English.

At the time of going to press South Africa had severe censorship powers over the Press and every single new publication had to pass the Censor Board where one of a few or even one of the censors had the power to ban the work.  They had the power and did not have to publish their reasons.  ‘When the Lion Feeds’ was banned outright.

The reading public never found out what the reason was until much later.

Smith talked to his publishers and they immediately found the probable cause; went ahead with the Afrikaans Dutch edition in which they omitted one small line and published.  The censor Board passed it with no objection.  We had the Afrikaans version under the title of ‘Iets moet Sterf’ and though we all talked and wondered we were never told of any changes to allow it to pass and we of course did not have the original English version ‘When the Lion Feeds’.

I found my own version of ‘When the Lion Feeds’ in a second hand bookshop on Sunset Boulevard where you are just short of entering the Pacific Palisades and Hollywood.  It was on my first visit to the States May 1981 and I also found my own copy of James Michener’s book ‘The Covenant’ in the same store.  The Covenant was also banned in South Africa and finding both in one American store was pure joy and a real treasure.

I proceeded and smuggled both books into South Africa.  It was one of the greatest days in my life when I added them to my personal library.  I climbed into the pages and was, I am sure, one of the first in the Nation to find the reason why ‘When the Lion Feeds’ was banned but ‘Iets moet Sterf’ was not.

There is a tiny paragraph where it becomes clear in both works what the origin of both titles alludes to.  It in short refers to old African folklore that for the lion to eat something else must first die.  In the English version a short reference to race [purely innocuous but enough to raise the shackles of the censor board reader] was included just before that in ‘When the Lion Feeds’; but deleted from ‘Iets moet Sterf’.

Old folklore informed their young ones that the lion only kills when he is hungry, AND ONLY kills as much as he needs.  Thus a small pride under a new young male will only select a smaller prey than the old lion with a large pride of females and young ones he must fend for.  The male lion makes the decision on what size animal is required and the female lions do the stalking and the killing.

For all these reasons old folklore warns their young ones not to venture out on the plains or in the woods when the lion is hungry.

Then something happened in the past week; if you have the same habit of the lazy reader who reads the last few paragraphs in a book to see whether he likes it before he buys it, you must not do it this time.  If you read this you must start at the top; if you don’t you will miss the entire theme and join the ignoramuses employed by Western Powers in Foreign Affairs and Diplomatic Missions and Embassies around the Globe.

What happened was that a wannabee Lion cried a few days ago; real lions don’t cry but fake wannabee lions do.  This fake is hungry and the pride has become unhappy with him as leader of the pride.  His leadership has not been to the benefit of the pride and he has turned rogue.  He is unhappy because he only has ten months from this morning and the rogue kills for the sake of killing.  Old folklore warned against the rogue lion.

You have to warn your young ones, America.  The next ten months the rogue will kill anything in sight; it’s called “crying with rage” at being found unfit to lead the pride.

Read this Drivel and cry for your children.

Ike Jakson

In Americus GA saka Americoon




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