African tales – scorpions

August 18 – Scorpions do not have many friends, and their enemies are many. As a youngster growing up in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) I may have been one of their few “friends”. At any rate, I enjoyed collecting them and even handling them. If a scorpion is held by the tail, next to its stinger, it is harmless except for its pincers and can be used to frighten or impress less-enlightened folk. Thinking to impress my African friends, I once cut off the tiny, sharp tip of a scorpion’s stinger and then went around with the scorpion in my hand, showing off my magical powers. But it did not long survive and soon its life blood had leaked out through that little opening.

Scorpion stings are very painful, and a few can be fatal. My mother was twice stung, right in the house, and was very uncomfortable for a couple of days. I put my hand on a little one once and was stung and I had swollen nodes in my armpit for a while, but it was not serious. A lady on our mission station, a newcomer to Africa, was stung and became very depressed. She was under the impression that scorpion stings were fatal and she was doomed to soon pass away. Why was nobody more sympathetic and sorrowful, she wondered? After she had survived and recovered, her impression of her colleagues improved greatly. Read more…

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