Cross posted to Daily Kos

Good morning, good morning, and welcome once again to Sunday Griot! I’m so glad you took time out of your Sunday to hear a story. And you know what? There’s a secret to this story, but I’m not going to tell you what it is yet. That’s what makes it a secret! So pull up your chair and sit back while I tell you the story of Why The Monkeys Have No King.

Once upon a time, the chimpanzees and the monkeys got along much better than they do today. They lived in a great jungle. Bananas grew on one side of the jungle, and dates on the other. In the very oldest times the chimpanzees would just take any food they wanted, but long before my story begins they had come to an agreement with the monkeys. If the monkeys would stay on the side of the forest where the dates grew, the chimpanzees would not bother them. The monkeys loved bananas when they could get them, but they loved not having to fight the chimpanzees more. So the two groups just kept to themselves, and for the most part the monkeys ate dates, and the chimpanzees ate bananas.

In those days the monkeys lived near a cartload of men, and they would occasionally go out and see what the men were up to. They didn’t get too close to the men, though, because they knew men didn’t know the difference between strength and death. But that’s another story.

Anyway, one day some of the monkeys were out watching the men coming and going, and one of the monkeys — an exceptionally curious one who was something of a troublemaker as well — decided to go see what happened inside those big caves the men kept walking in and out of. So, he entered the biggest, most impressive cave in the village, and below saw an amazing sight. A man in fine clothes was barking like men do, and when he barked, the other men would do things! One fetched him some water to drink. Another brought him some food to eat. One of the female men was fanning him to keep him cool.

The little monkey looked around at the men. They were all wearing fine clothes, and the only difference between them that they could see was that the man who was doing the ordering around had a fancy hat on his head. A very shiny hat, with points and sparkly stones! So the monkey came down to get a better look.

“Well, hello there,” the man said in his own tongue as the monkey approached. “We don’t see many of you down here. Would you like something to eat?” and he offered the monkey a date.

The monkey wasn’t interested in dates, as he ate those all the time. If it had been a banana, that might have been a different story. Instead, the monkey snatched the crown from the man’s head and scampered away with it. There was a great deal of shouting and running around, but the monkey escaped with the crown in his hand and returned back to the jungle to his own kind.

The other monkeys all gathered around. “What’s that you got there?” one of them monkeys asked him.

“It’s a man-hat of some kind,” the troublemaker replied. “One of the men had it on his head, and the others did what he told them to.”

“Like what?”

“Like, oh, fetch him food and stuff.” Then the monkey had an idea. “Hey, how about this? Let’s play a game. I’ll put the man-hat on my head, and then you guys do what I tell you to.”

The monkeys were up for a game, so they all decided to go along with this.

“OK!” said the newly self-appointed monkey king. “Everybody put your left paw up in the air!”

All the monkeys obediently raised their left paw.

The little king thought this was great. “All right then! Let’s all jump and hoot!”

And all the monkeys hooted and jumped for all they were worth. They would have been hooting and jumping anyway, so they were happy to do this now.

They continued this way throughout the day, with the monkey king telling them to do silly things like marching or rolling around on the ground and the monkeys happily doing them.

Then, eventually, the monkey king decided he was hungry. The monkeys had all been playing for a while and no one had bothered to remember to eat. He had seen the human king tell his subjects to bring him food, so he decided that was the next thing to do. “Bring me . . . some bananas!” he declared.

The monkeys grew silent. “What is it?” he asked.

“Well, uh,” the monkeys murmured, “the chimps have all the bananas.”


“We can’t break our promise to the chimpanzees. They will start attacking us and they are much stronger than we are.”

The little king monkey started to scold. “Are we monkeys or are we not?” he shouted. “It’s about time we started being able to eat bananas if we want. Strength in numbers! We should be able to eat bananas if we want, shouldn’t we?” He continued on like this for a bit, and eventually a group of monkeys followed him to the other side of the forest for a banana raid. The others, knowing what would happen, tried to stop them, but were unsuccessful, and hid, fearing the worst.

Well, you can probably guess the result. There was an awful fight and some of the monkeys were killed, including the would-be king. The crown, too big for him to begin with, had slipped down off his head and over his arms and made it impossible for him to run or fight properly.

Much later, when the chimpanzees had moved on from the area where the fight had taken place, the monkeys went and retrieved the crown from where it had fallen. They then returned to the edge of the man-village and tossed it back toward the village as hard as they could. They wanted no more part of having a king, and from that day to this the monkeys do not have a king, because they remember what kind of trouble having a king can cause.

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