22 Nov Slow and Steady
It is often said that if you cannot fly, run. If you cannot run, walk. If you cannot walk, crawl. By all means, keep moving. This story depicts that this saying is true. We only lose when we stop. Slow and steady wins the race.
Slow and Steady
by Daramfon Etim
A long time ago, in the animal kingdom, the king decided to organize a race to celebrate his 20th year as king. The winner of the race would be awarded a special role in the palace and lots of gifts. The swiftest animals, like the cheetah, gazelle, and eagle, were all excited. Some of them even began to label
themselves as the winner of the race before the day arrived.
A few weeks before the race, the king asked those interested in joining the race to come to the palace. These contestants would live and train in the palace until the day of the race.
Along the highway to the palace, Hare was trodding with his luggage on his back. The Antelope called out to him,
“Mr. Hare, where are you rushing with that big bag? Don’t tell me you are leaving town when a great feast is around the corner.”
“Oooh! don’t be silly,” Hare replied, laughing.
“If you must know,” he continued. “I am on my way to the palace because I am going to participate in the race.”
“Are you sure of this decision?” The Antelope asked in surprise. “I was at the palace a few days ago and felt intimated. Do you think you stand a chance against the likes of Eagle and Cheetah?” He further inquired.
“I understand your concerns, my dear friend, but there is no harm in trying,” Hare replied.
As both of them stood conversing, Tortoise, who was also heading to the palace, passed by.
“What are you two arguing about? I could hear your voices even before I got close enough to see that it was the two of you,” said Tortoise.
“How nice of you to ask,” Antelope replied almost immediately. “Perhaps it would be nice for someone else to talk to Hare if that would make him change his mind.”
“Don’t be silly Antelope,” Hare chided. “This is my sole decision, and I expect you to support me as my friend, not talk down on me.”
“As much as I would enjoy watching both of you banter like children, I have somewhere to go. So please hurry up and explain to me what the problem is?” Tortoise stated, feeling irritated.
“Sorry, Tortoise. I do not intend to waste your time, but I think you should hear this. Mr. Hare, my good friend, has decided to join the race, and I am trying to explain to him that there is no chance of him winning, but he is not listening to me,” Antelope narrated.
“Oh! I see,” Tortoise replied. “I do not see any reason why he should not join the race if he wants to. He might win! After all, I am also joining the race. The king did not say that the race was for some specific animals. In fact, he encouraged everyone to join if they wanted to.”
Antelope and Hare immediately started laughing. They laughed so hard, and soon, they were rolling on the floor. Mr. Tortoise felt really angry. He only stopped to inquire what was wrong, but they had turned him into a clown.
“How do you intend to win the race when you can hardly walk? You can’t even walk fast enough to get to the palace on time, and you intend to participate in the race?” Hare said amidst laughter.
“My dear friend, I thought you were crazy but listening to Tortoise has made me realize that you are very much okay. How is that even possible? He is the slowest animal in the entire Kingdom. How will he even be able to walk fast enough to get to the starting line?”
By this time, Tortoise was boiling with anger, but he had already made up his mind to join the race and was going to prove to everyone who would love to see him on his way to failure that he was going to win.
When Tortoise got to the palace, he was greeted with strange looks. The animals present were shocked to see him. Some even began to murmur. When he got to the palace for registration, the animals in charge were all shocked. Some even started laughing when he told them he was joining the race.
The next day, all the animals were assembled, and training began. The Tortoise always came last in all the different pieces of training, but that did not stop him. He made sure to pay attention to instructions, and he took notes of every observation made by the trainers and his fellow teammates. Slowly all the animals began to adjust to the fact that Tortoise was going to join the race. Still, that didn’t stop the animals from thinking that his fate was already decided. As the slowest animal in the entire kingdom, there was no way he was even going to emerge as the first ten to win the race.
When the king heard that Tortoise was joining the race, he was impressed, and he made up his mind to reward Tortoise after the competition because very few animals had shown such bravery, especially in the face of great difficulty.
Two days before the competition, Hare called Tortoise aside to talk to him.
“I have been watching you through our stay in this palace, but I still can’t figure it out.”
“Figure what out?” Tortoise asked, looking confused.
“Your master plan of course,” Hare replied, laughing. “You don’t expect me to believe that you are genuinely joining the race, do you?” He asked.
“I am disappointed that you would think so low of me!” Tortoise shouted and left angrily.
On the day of the race, all the animals gathered together to watch the race; even emissaries from other kingdoms were present to honour the king on the anniversary of his 20th-year reign.
Before the race started, the other animals were distracted by the attention they got as participants of the royal race, and they forgot a piece of important information that the race was going to be long – they had been instructed to carry water.
Every animal except Tortoise forgot. When the race began,
some animals who started the race well became tired and dehydrated and had to stop. The Tortoise was still in the race, but he was far behind. He saw from a distance that the other animals became tired, and they began to either leave the race or those who struggled fainted. This motivated him, and he put in all his energy and continued. But he saw that the Hare was still in the race even though he also forgot to bring his water. The Hare was fast, but his strength was slowly fading away, and
he couldn’t run as fast as before. He started walking, and Tortoise was a few inches behind him.
Hare was very thirsty, but he didn’t want to stop. He looked behind him and saw the Tortoise slowly making progress. He looked ahead and saw a stream, and he decided to stop for a drink. Out of exhaustion, he fell asleep.
Tortoise slowly made his way past the Hare and continued until he got to the finish line and won.
Slow and steady wins the race. Never give up on your dreams.
Owners of the story: Western Nigeria