This time Sasa did not laugh on their way to school. She wanted to believe Bongi’s baboon story, she was even surprised that the baboon had a name, and if it had a name as Bongi claimed then it is very likely it talked, like people.

Sasa was apprehensive for she was taught that baboons were evil and used by witches. Nevertheless, she wanted to see for herself, she wanted to meet Kop but Bongi wasn’t sure whether or not that would be a good idea. Kop was scared of Bongi’s mother, but Sasa was just a girl. Still, Bongi wasn’t sure.

She thought hard about Sasa’s request. She couldn’t concentrate in class. She did not sit for lunch with Sasa. Actually, Sasa sat with Mumsy and her group. Mumsy was the popular girl in school.

After school, Bongi told Sasa that she’ll have to first ask Kop whether it wouldn’t mind the meeting, but Sasa wasn’t impressed with this response and took a different way home.

The very night Bongi was there with Kop. She told the baboon about Sasa’s request to meet it but Kop was totally against it and also warned Bongi not to tell others about its existence. Kop was afraid of people because they were quick to judge and often quick to harm what they disliked.

“People are easily threatened by what they don’t understand Bongi. Please, it can only be you,” said the baboon.

“Okay,” Bongi said guiltily. “But why did you choose me Kop, why did you come here?”

Kop thought for a while. “Well,” it said, and then it started to circle the tree. “I like you Bongi. You’re kind and you like people,” it paused, before adding with a smile, “and animals too.”

Bongi’s chest swelled with tenderness seeing Kop this joyous.

It then told Bongi the whole story…

Apparently, Kop had come to eat the raspberries from the trees in Bongi’s yard one evening when it first saw her. Bongi wasn’t sure whether this equalled trespassing but Kop was a wild animal and they didn’t need permission to feed, but this was a human settlement where ownership was respected; still Kop couldn’t know.

The animal was chatty on that night. It further told Bongi about its late baboon mother who lived in captivity in one of the township houses. Bongi wondered how that was possible since people needed official permission to keep animals in their homes. The baboon mother gave birth to Kop in the nearby bush and left it there. It did this so that its offspring could live freely and not the way the mother had lived; used and abused by her handlers. Bongi was also curious to know about Kop’s father but she did not want to raise that question.

“I’m a born-free Bongi, like you,” Kop said, grinning and showing its fangs.

Bongi wanted to laugh, she was even surprised that Kop knew the word ‘born-free’. It was obvious the animal was also born in democratic South Africa.

Bongi was pleased with her new friend but little did she know that that, Sasa was spying on their meeting, peeking through a loop the size of a soccer ball on the property wall of Bongi’s yard.

Though the visual of Kop was unclear from Sasa’s distance, she saw enough: like when Bongi stroked Kop and when Kop was performing the baboon dance. She also heard them chuckle heartily like old friends. Sasa’s foot trembled on the ground in a panic as she watched the two. And unlike Bongi, she did not like presence of the baboon here.

***

Tell us: What do you think Sasa will do now that she knows about the baboon?