The Shilluk King
I'm writing the second book in the Not How I Planned It series. This book is currently titled: Life in a Tumble Dryer. Here is part of a story about meeting the Shilluk (Cøllø) king.
We learned that the king never looks behind. So, it was with great interest that we watched how he would sit down. He backed up until he was standing on the leopard skin rug in front of his chair. Then someone made sure to position the chair where the king was about to sit. I don’t think the person placing the chair would have had his job for long if he had miscalculated the location of the chair and allowed the king to crash to the ground.
We assume a king will wear a crown, and the Cøllø king is no exception. However, instead of gold or silver, his crown was made from the mane of the giraffe. The king has special rights to any giraffe that is killed, either intentionally or by accident. The incident must be reported immediately or there will be a fine to pay. Tradition says he gets the use of all the parts of the giraffe, though I expect he shares the meat once he has what he needs. The mane and the tail are of particular value. The mane is formed into a circlet and worn as a crown.
After our meeting, we were escorted to a house and invited to sit and relax. Shortly, a man entered the room and everyone stood up, including us! I would not miss that clue again (as I had with the Sudanese ambassador in Nairobi). He turned out to be the Shilluk equivalent to the Prime Minister. He had worked as a medical technician before being promoted to this position, and he spoke excellent English. We asked questions, and he offered more information about what we were seeing. He pointed out that he wore a necklace with three strands of beads. As with many symbols, the number of strands showed his high status. Those wearing two strings or one string had lower status. So, I asked if the king wore four strands.
The prime minister laughed, as did everyone else! “No,” he explained. “The rädh wears a single strand of beads.” I believe they made his necklace with ivory beads.