"Leopard of Mt. Kilimanjaro" was a song that a teacher remembers memorizing and singing when he was an 11-year old elementary school student. At that age he didn't understand what the song meant to say, but hearing it so often on TV, the words have stayed with him for these past thirty years.
He left the teaching profession--troubled by the number of girls absent from class because of their decisions to have abortions--to begin a full time study of sexuality and other life issues. He knew he was exchanging a field for which he had spent years in preparation for a field that offered no guarantees in earning a living, but he felt that was his calling and made the change. The lyrics of the song were a great help in giving him the confidence to make the move.
Have you ever seen a hyena
walking at the foot of the mountains in search of food?
Those hyenas in the mountains
scavenging for rotten meat?
I long to be the leopard, not the hyena,
that climbed to the top of the mountain and froze to death.
That leopard of the snow-covered Kilimanjaro.
Overnight a great man, overnight a nobody,
for now I rest in the dark corners of earth.
The city is full of ambition,
and nowhere can I be found
in the middle of this city,
among its many bright lights,
completely abandoned. But why should that matter? A man named van Gogh lived a more miserable life than I.
In our competitive society we are easily puffed up and just as quickly become anguished because of the situations we find ourselves in: "overnight a great man, overnight a nobody." Leaving the security of a school job to try something new did pose a problem for him, he admits, but remembering the words of the song was a great help. The song recalls the time that van Gogh went to a mining village with all the zeal of the Gospels to become a great painter.
Though the song's lyrics made an impression on him, he laments that the lyrics of today's songs have little in common with the songs he remembers as a child.
Prime-time TV, when many of the young will be watching, have musical performances in which the lyrics of many of the songs have little positive value for the young, and these vocalists are the ones that become the idols of our young. Their parents know that the lyrics are not what they want their children to emulate but there is little they can do. Unfortunately, these vocalists are becoming the teachers and role models of our young. They are determining the thinking of the next generation.