Title The Wisdom Of Age – An Ovambo Tale

Arthur Nick Greases

Date release 2006

Type Short Story

Brief Plot Overview

This is a story about a young boy, in an African village who, through his birth right becomes king.

His father, once a famous, old king ruled over his people for many years. He built a great kingdom often consulting with older men of the village as was their way in these times. The older men act as advisers in village society because they were wise through their experiences of life.

When the king died his oldest son was still quite young to take on his new role and overcome by his own self -importance and the power he would have.

The young king at this youthful stage of life thought that only the young had wisdom.  He believed the young should rule and got the other young men in the village to agree with him and support his law that all older men should be killed. He wanted to remove the influential elders. “We feel it would be good to do away with the old men as they are not worthy to partake in the kingdom’s new reign”

There was one young man who disagreed with the group and who hid his father. He helped his father escape and hid him in a cave taking care of him as best he good, avoiding detection by the other young men.

This was important as later a crisis affecting the king would require the old man’s wisdom. The young King’s life was put at risk and none of the young men knew what to do so the boy who had hid his father had to risk exposing him to death in order to save the young king.


Interesting characters

I thought that the way the young king was thinking was both interesting and weird because no matter how ”overcome by his own self-importance” he was should have remembered that as soon as he got old the “kill all old men” law would then apply to him.

In Africa the old people hold all knowledge about how the world works making them an important piece of their society so getting rid of them seems like a stupid idea and a waste.

the young King lacked  imagination and the ability to look into the future, and like many young egotistical men he was focused only on himself.

 Challenges the characters had to overcome

The challenge that the young king had to deal with was own lack of real world knowledge and that of his followers. They did not know what they did not know.

The crisis for the young king came about as a result of the way he liked to look. . Some of his young followers killed a Zebra and made a very special and fancy garment out of its skin for the young king to wear.

What they did not understand is if they did not cure the skin properly before sewing it would eventually go through a shrinking stage as it dried out.

The Kings was so impressed with himself in the new garment he kept wearing it and then eventually realised it had gotten so tight he could not take it off and it was starting to suffocate him.  The skin became a rapidly shrinking robe of death.

Another member of the village faced a real challenge. The young boy who had hidden his father faced the challenge of admitting his father was still alive and possibly having him put to death.  In providing the answer to save the king, which he got from his father,  he had to admit where he got the idea from.

The young king asked “where did you get the wisdom to save me your king, when all the other young men did not have the knowledge to do so” The young boy had to risk his father’s life in order to seek the wisdom of the old man in helping to save the young king.

Messages I took from the Text

The message behind the story was about respecting age and the wisdom that comes with age.

The idea was that the older you got the wiser you got. Being wise is not just being smart, but also being experienced and experience comes with time and actually doing stuff.

This is because as you go through life you learn and are exposed to more situations that teach you. It’s simply a matter of having had enough time.


Who I would recommend this book for

Someone how likes old legions that have a moral about how things in our world came to be.

A person who enjoys understanding the past and how that affects what we know now.

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