The Simb & The Virus

If presented the opportunity, life has a way of connecting experiences and cultural events. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the recent Coronavirus outbreak and it reminded me of The Simb. According to the Senegalese legend, back when the country was mostly forest, there was a lone hunter who set out to find his next meal. Instead, though, he found himself being hunted by a lion. The hunter fought valiantly and managed to get away with his life, but the lion captured a piece of his soul. The hunter went crazy, spending the rest of his life acting like the beast that captured his spirit.

Every year during the rainy season in Senegal, the season of the forest, a group of about five men and women reenact an interpretation of the legend. They dress as lions, with elaborate, majestic and convincing costumes. They dance, roar, sing a traditional song and even chase spectators. It is a spectacular sight. The only way to make the group stop pursuing you is to throw money at them. Then, just as quickly as they came, the lions disappear until the next rainy season.

Now, the quick arrival of an unwelcome guest, the coronavirus, and the feeling of being hunted seems relevant. It weighs heavily on people, and it can be consuming. Humans are hunters. We are used to attacking, not being attacked. It feels as though we are face-to-face with the lion. The government is society, throwing all available resources at the lion. In reality, all the hunter needed to do was lay low. While some of us are doing everything we can to make this disappear, others are running toward the danger, putting themselves at risk by going out, not wearing masks or gloves and disregarding guidance. They are standing tall. They are hunters after all and hunter don't back down. 

The moral of the story is that even the best hunters can become prey. Never go toe-to-toe with a lion, because you will lose in one way or another, and nothing is worth risking your soul. Stay safe, my friends, and lay low. We will overcome this beast together and be better for it when it’s over! 

Photo by Julia Kuntzle