Gcina MhlopheSouth AfricaWriting1997
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From: "Mata Mata", a children’s musical

 

Up on the hills of Nomakhanda, there once lived a very unusual kind of tortoise. Yes he had a shell, with thirteen segments like all other mountain tourtoises, and yes, he could pull his head in to hide whenever there was a threat of danger. But his legs were very long and the scales on them were very rough. His nails were long and had good grip to hold on to what ever he wished to hold on to. His neck was extra ordinarily long with strange flower-like bumps in a row at the back and in front. Most of all you should have seen his eyes, round and sharp with curiosity. His nose was very pointy and his mouth could open very wide like that of a hippopotamus. And did Mata Mata love to talk! He was always talking to himself, to birds, to snakes, to chamelions, to anyone at all who was willing to lend him an ear for a minute or two. You see, Mata Mata had every reason to be boastful. He could walk very fast with those long legs of his. And dancing was his favourite pastime. All who knew Mata Mata associated him with his loud mouth and his fast dancing. Though far from good looking, he had a very charismatic personality, and many animals sort of liked him. Early one Spring morning, Mata Mata woke up and had something to eat, sat around feeling really bored. He tried to make up a new song but it was not going anywhere. He tried to take a little nap but sleep decided to run away from him. Some funny Hadida birds were flying above him making such a noise! This was too much for him so he stood up and decided to go for a walk once and for all. He had only taken a few steps when his eye was caught by something bright and shimmering in the distance. He looked hard, trying to make out what it was but it was no use, he could not tell. So Mata Mata decided to hurry on down the hillside to go and see what that pretty sight was. He had always been curious and it irritated him to see something and not know what it was. Spring flowers were blooming everywhere, their fragances filled the air with enchantment and glee, bees were having so much fun collecting juices and nectars for making honey. Butterflies were in quiet motion, flying all over in loosely choreographed dance patterns like many magic flowers. Animals walked around easily enjoying the sun and some seemed to be showing off their clean and shiny skins. Mata Mata saw and admired all of this, and then continued on his journey down. The closer he got to the lake that had attracted his attention in the first place, the happier he got. It was as if he had found the fountain of all happiness.