AIDS – Blind Men and the Elephant

Indians and Elephant– A Hindu Fable:  John Godfrey Saxe’s {1816-1887} version –

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -“Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he,
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!



Isn’t this true about everything we claim to know or understand?

Are they not  mere claims?

Can anyone’s point of view ever be anything but a point of view?

Why do people dig trenches and fight over differences of opinion or over whose view is right and then view each other through cross hairs?

Who is right? And does it really matter who is right?

Take as an example the grave matter of AIDS in Africa.      

It is mighty clear that this disease called AIDS has become pretty “Elephant”  in the minds of most people and that the solutions  are as many as there are blind men. Those who talk of food insist it is a cure all. Those who say the anti-retrovirals are the cure are right – from their point of view. Those who praise condoms say there is nothing like them. Listen to the abstainers and you would think the problem is solved and what about the sensitizers. Ahh! They say, “What we need are more sensitization seminars, period”. And from the other side someone shouts, “They should be circumcised!!” Well, they are all like our Indian friends  partially right as far as partial knowledge goes and yet all wrong due to a lack of insight into the whole. Lack of IN-SIGHT.


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One thought on “AIDS – Blind Men and the Elephant

  1. Nii ndi mugikuyu mungari wa mbari ya Kiiru.
    Culture is the absolute cure for all our problems starting from social decadence, corruption, disrespect for parents to mention a few. Gikuyu culture had everything done with a spiritual angle.We were believers of one NGAI mwene nyaga, mumbi wa thi na iguru.We had taboos that guided every aspect of life.Kindly lets all learn and educate our children on culture before it is too late and we lose all elder citizens who are custodians of our wisdom.

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