Trade in Lions
Lions in Culture
The city hall of Oran, the second largest city in Algeria, has two giant lion statues in front of the main entrance. Local legend reports lions present in this area around 900BC. The last two lions were killed on a mountain close to the city, now called The Mountain of Lions (La montagne des Lions). This mountain is the symbol of Oran. (html)
Oran’s city seal, adopted in 1967, features two rampant lions and the profile of one of the lion statues outside the city hall. (html)
The Return of the Lion - A story from Algeria
There was a country called Beloved-Land where a civil war raged from 1990 to 1999. The citizens of Beloved-Land were tired of war, insecurity, injustice and poverty.
100,000 citizens had died in the hostilities and many more were considering leaving their beloved country. Everybody wanted an end to the hostilities, which came with a great price. The problem was that the people were traumatized by the civil war, and there was no one willing to take leadership of the country upon himself.
People gathered, talked in whispers among themselves, looking for that “special one”, but nobody would step up to the plate.
Then a dog approached the people and said that he could run the country and said “I can run your country. If you humans cannot run your country I will do it and I will do it much better than you.” The people pointed fingers at the dog, telling him that he did not deserve this position. “If we appoint you the lion will be mad.” The dog thumped his tail and spoke with great determination. “If I can bring a recommendation from the lion, will you, the people, appoint me as your leader?” The people discussed this option amongst themselves.
“Of course.” Then the dog went into the forest looking for the lion. He was fearful and showed it by approaching the king of the forest with his tail between his legs.
The lion roared with disdain. “Why did you come to my domain you dirty dog? Are you looking for trouble?” The dog whined and said, “No Sir! I want to be elected as leader of the country. The people want to elect me as their great leader, if you great and mighty lion will recommend me. If you give me a recommendation and I am in a position of power, I will give you everything that you desire. All will be yours without you lifting a finger.”
Ancient rock engraving in the Sahara Desert at Tadrart, Algeria
The lion shook his tawny mane and agreed to recommend the dirty dog, but only on two conditions. The first was that he would not accept bribes and the second was that he would do it so that the people would have unity and peace would reign in the country of the Beloved-Land. The dog, his tail wagging vigorously asked the large, tawny lion to come back with him to wilaya. They were about one kilometer from the meeting place of the people when the dog said “Hey lion, what if I tie your legs with rope, would you agree to that Mr. Lion. It would set the scene that you are a nothing.” The dog stared at the lion for a couple of minutes. “When I am elected, I will free you, do not fear, this is just for show.” The lion was a dolt and did what the dirty dog told him to do. The people could not believe their eyes when they saw the lion lying in the grass, a prisoner of the dog.
The dog, elected leader of the country, basked in his power and forgot his promises that he had made to the lion. The animals made their way to the wilaya, to see the President doggy. Among them was a tiny field mouse who discovered the captive, hungry, and very angry lion. “Oh, the shame”, he squeaked with great pleasure, “lion king of the jungle, how could a dog be elected President and not you? Let’s cut a deal. I will untie you, if you promise me that when you make the coup d’état, you will become President and I will become your second in command.” The lion, freed from his ropes, went into exile in Africa. After a while in exile, he came back to Beloved Land. He roared in a famous speech “I do not accept a place where a dog jails you and a mouse sets you free. I will make Beloved-Land the best place on Earth”
Chaalal D. (2005) The Return of the Lion (html)
Lions in the News
|Lion hunting in Algeria: Destruction of flocks and herds. Lion and lioness at bay||html|
|Lions reach across continents to help badly burned boy||html|
|The Sabbath lion: A Jewish folktale from Algeria||html|