Every respectable African wanderer has bumped at least once into a strange looking creature made all too famous by a Disney character. If you want to be truly respected, you need to have a friend called Pumba
I got lucky, I met a real life warthog with a personality disorder called Pumba early on. Although it was such a cliché for him to be called Pumba, it didn’t make him any less cool. The Pumba I met was at the wildlife rehabilitation centre not because he was injured but because he didn’t quite know what it meant to be a warthog – the struggle was real. He was raised in a farm amongst dogs and somewhere along the way he decided that short of barking, he was a dog too. He was one of the most unique and endearing creatures I’ve encountered. He had favorites humans, despised humans, and loved a good belly tickle. He was also a bit of a bully, one look at those sharp tusks could definitely tip the balance towards another minute of strokes.
We became friends during a Sunday nap. He came for cuddles while I was lying under a tree, we snuggled up, we napped. We became loose friends. He wasn’t my favorite and I wasn’t his, but our energy worked together. I found him funny, he knew I would give him carrots and go on a walk with him so we kept each other company.
Although he was normally friendly to everyone (even towards the people that wanted to cook him on the fire), the one thing that stuck to me though was how much he despised 2 people: another volunteer and Penelope’s son. They always denied it, but I’m sure there was a reason for it. I’ve known people and wildlife for a while now, the puzzle always fits. One day she through a rock at him and his vengeance ended up with a proper bang! Broken water pipes in her room, chewed shoes while he happily bathed amongst all the floating things. It was hard not to laugh (or to think she didn’t have it coming). How he managed such a quiet disaster remains a mystery.
True to his character though, Pumba really lived by a Hakuna Matata motto most of the time – or rather his version of it. It meant no worries as long as the food kept coming. It a short while he gave a me a different outlook on life. He showed me how simple and plentiful things can be if you let go of what isn’t and enjoy what is, but also how you should stand up for yourself and not let yourself be scared off for fear of ending up in the fire. The life lesson that you too can be a Pumba for someone else. Let them know that it means no worries and that someone has got your back, even if it means fighting lions together. It makes all difference.