Somalia, 1988
As Ibrahim and I walked back to the small village of Banta on a narrow foot-
path through fields tall with corn, a low growl silenced our chatter about the
weather and the possibility of rain. We instantly fell silent and slowly turned
to see an adult male lion stepping out of the corn onto the path about a dozen
feet behind us, assessing us with what we hoped was little interest. We froze,
panicked, understanding the real possibility of attack and the futility of at-
tempting to run away. After looking us over, the lion tossed his head and
crossed the path into another cornfield, disappearing from view but leaving us
trembling with our hearts in our throats. Shocked, we exchanged astonished
glances and quietly agreed to move as quickly as possible without running to-
ward the village. Ten minutes later we came upon a village farmer in her field
and breathlessly described to her our adventure. Her kids ran ahead with the
news and by the time we reached the village our neighbors were gathering to
hear all about our encounter with the lion. Xassan, the government- appointed
head of the village and the patriarch of the family compound where I lived,
was distinctly displeased and demanded that I stay within the confines of the
village until the lion had left the area. We learned that the lion had already
killed a camel and damaged several farms before our late afternoon face- to-
face meeting. Our assault by a lion would have been a major headache for him.
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