Living in prides of up to 30 individuals at one time, Lions are very social creatures. Prides generally include three males, a number of females, and their young cubs. External factors such as famine and drought can also dictate the size of prides, with numbers increasing or decreasing depending on the availability of food and water. Both male and female lions have a roar that can be heard 8km away.
Males and Females also hold very different and distinct roles in the pride. Male lions guard the territory, which can be as large as 260 square km, by chasing away intruders and marking their territory with urine. Females are in charge of hunting, using team work to take down prey.
The worlds fastest animal, the Cheetah can run at speeds of up to 110kmph. It can reach that top speed in 3 seconds. The cheetahs tail is long and flat, and can be used as a rudder, to control steering, and to maintain balance when running.
Their spots are solid black, and are on their skin as well as their fur. Their “tear marks” that run from the inside of their eyes down to their mouths, reflect the suns glare, helping them to hunt. A mother cheetah can carry between 2-8 cubs in her litter at any one time.
My mother went to check up on Peter that night and we soon learnt that he was dying from AIDS. The entire neighborhood instantly withdrew from him in revulsion. My mother, however, went to see him every day. She kept him company, cooked for him and shared stories to lift his mood. When Peter was eventually hospitalized, my mother would wait impatiently for my father to come home after work so that they could drive down to see him. Peter’s family in Germany didn’t want to have anything to do with him. He had abandoned them all those years ago and they were still clinging to their anger, not caring that the man was dying from a cruel and dehumanizing disease. In the end, the only person at his bedside when he died was my mother.
It was only when I grew up that I fully understood the extent of my mother’s kindness and courage. As Somalis, our mainstream culture is modeled on extremely orthodox and conservative values. There are only straight lines. Coloring outside the box is taboo, and when I was younger and Peter was dying, people were quick to remind my mother that she was stepping out of line to help him. I once asked her why she did it, why she helped Peter in the face of tremendous hostility from our family members and community. Her answer was straightforward. “This man is a human being. It is my Islamic duty to help him.”
Years later, after I came out as gay to my family, most of them were quick to disown me. My mother, however, refused to give up on me. I had always imagined that my father — a liberal former professor — with his multiple degrees, cosmopolitan savvy and fluency in five languages would be supportive. But in an eerie parallel to the way our neighbors in Nairobi had reacted when they first heard that Peter was dying from AIDS, my father recoiled from me in disgust when I came out. Echoing the same generosity of spirit and loyalty that she had once shown Peter, my mother, who did not possess multiple degrees or fluency in five languages, stood by me again and again whilst facing pressure from everyone around her.
My mother reminds me everyday that human kindness and empathy have no borderlines. This is not an abstract conceit mired in convoluted politics. It’s an elementary part of being cognizant and alive. I’m proud of the life I have built for myself from the detritus of trauma and rejection. I’ve grown up to become exactly the man I dreamt I would be when I was a child. I thank my mother for lighting the way.
Diriye Osman’s is a gay Somali man and his critically-acclaimed collection of short stories about the LGBTQ+ Somali experience, “Fairytales For Lost Children”, is out now and available on Amazon.