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Kaang's People

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Long, long, long ago all the animals and all the human beings lived together beneath the surface of the world in peace with the great god Kaang, the creator of all things. Every creature understood every other and no creature wanted for anything. Although there was no sun, it was light and warm and all lived in comfort and harmony.

During this blissful time, Kaang began to plan the world above where all creatures would eventually live. First he created a wondrous, magnificent tree, the branches of which spread over the entire surface of the country, he then created all the wonders within it. When he was satisfied that all was good, he dug a hole deep down to where the humans and animals were living.

He took a man by the hand and led him up through the long passageway to the world above. He sat the first man down by the hole and they waited. Soon a woman wandered up through the hole and the couple explored their new world with all the wonders in it.

Delighted with everything, they called down the passageway and soon the other people and all the animals, led by the inquisitive, long-necked giraffe, were streaming out of the hole.

What wonders they found: the excited birds flew up high into the tree, twittering their delight at all they could see and many animals jumped and scrambled into the branches wanting to see further for themselves.

Amidst the excitement and noise, the great god Kaang, pleased at their delight with his creation, called all people and animals together under the tree. “I will tell you the laws of this new world,” he said. “You are to live together in peace and harmony. You will talk together and listen to each other. But this is a new world, and very fragile.”

Turning to the humans, he went on. “Under no circumstances must you make fire; to do such a thing would be to bring great evil upon this beautiful world.”

They promised solemnly that they would never do this. Satisfied, Kaang left them to enjoy their new world and went away to watch in secret. For a while, all went well. But then the sun started to slowly sink beneath the horizon. All the people and animals gathered together to watch this strange phenomenon. But once the sun had gone, the world became dark and cold.

The humans could not see as they lacked the eyesight of the other creatures. The humans became cold as they lacked the fur and feathers of the other creatures. The humans began to be afraid. They huddled together in an effort to keep warm and shared their worries with each other. “What is happening? Will the sun ever return?” The fear spread fast amongst them.

The animals too began to be afraid as they saw the people change and heard what the people were saying. As the dark time continued, the fear began to turn to panic. “We are going to freeze to death. How can we live if we cannot see?” And soon one man shouted, “We must start a fire, then we will have light and warmth and we can survive.”

“Yes, yes!” all the people agreed, forgetting the words of Kaang and their promise to him. The fire was lit and the humans gathered around and could see each other in its light and could feel the warmth of the flames on their chilled bodies.

They started to relax and smile at each other. They turned to their friends, the animals, only to find that they had started to run away, terrified of the fire. “Come back, there is nothing to fear.” The people stood and shouted, but the animals could no longer understand them and only heard shouts and yells which terrified them further. In no time at all, every creature had run away and hidden.

Sadly, the people now remembered their promise to Kaang and realised that by breaking it, they had also broken the understanding between humans and animals for ever.

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