A Baboon Story from Lesego Rampolokeng

In Jerusalem at an International Poetry Festival I became friends with a poet from South Africa: Lesego Rampolokeng. He told a story of how a man’s property had been overrun with baboons. He’d tried everything to force them to leave. They refused. They ate everything. Ridiculed the man and his family. So as the last resort he hired a Poet.

A poet?

Yes, a poet. As I said, he’d tried everything else known in the universe for convincing baboons to leave. It’s a rough science.

The poet arrived for his appointment to get rid of the baboons. They watched curiously to see what the landowner had to amuse them this time. They saw a human in slicked-down shoes, shaggy jacket.

The landowner watched as the poet went out to the baboons. The poet spoke. He was too far away for the landowner to hear his words. First the baboons laughed. Then they cried. And then they ran away.

The poet returned to the amazed and grateful landowner for his pay. The landowner counted out the cash to the poet, then asked:

What did you say to the baboons to get them to leave?

First, said the poet, I told them I was a poet. Then I told them how much money I made as a poet. And then I told them I was going to read them a poem.

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