Your youngsters can learn alongside as they hearken to brief story writing contest winner, Flying Colours.
This STOR14S episode, written by Angela Younger and browse by the star of X-Males Edi Gathegi, will probably be launched on Spotify and Apple Podcasts on July 16, or you’ll be able to hear right here:
And in case you take pleasure in this story, study extra at GEANCO, who’re serving to to forestall the unfold of COVID-19 and enhancing lives in Nigeria.
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by Angela Younger
African starlings are brightly, brilliantly coloured.
A few of them are shiny violet-black. Some are shiny blue and inexperienced. Some are violet and a few are yellow. Some even have splashes of pink and orange on their our bodies.
However on each African starling there’s at the very least one patch of black.
However it wasn’t at all times so. There was a time when starlings had been plain black. It was at the moment that a horrible factor occurred: a day when the starlings thought their eardrums would burst, a day a lot of them didn’t survive.
On that day the wind watched the starlings standing in huddles on the bottom with their heads hidden below their wings. The wind whistled and whispered, “Inform me what’s improper.”
Sixteen starlings turned their faces to the wind and mentioned: “A horrible shriek is torturing our eardrums.”
“It gained’t cease, we’ve by no means heard something prefer it earlier than. We are able to’t hear ourselves assume. It’s so loud, we are able to’t even fly.”
At that second a shadow fell throughout the good plain and the wind whipped spherical to see a tall black cloud spiralling in direction of them.
When the cloud blotted out the solar, night time arrived in the course of the day. The shriek was so loud that the starlings may solely stare on the place the place the solar had been and surprise if this was the top of the world.
However the wind whistled near the bottom and gathered the starlings spherical as she mentioned, in her lowest gentlest voice, “That shriek is the shriek of the locusts. I do know as a result of I’ve heard it earlier than. However you starlings, and I, are the one ones on earth who can hear it.”
The shriek got here nearer and nearer because the wind whispered, “As a result of we are able to hear it, we’re the one ones who can do what have to be accomplished.”
“What have to be accomplished?” mentioned one of many sixteen, in a really small voice.
“We should struggle them,” mentioned the wind. “Earlier than they eat every part of their path. Earlier than they destroy our land. Earlier than there’s nothing left.’”
The sixteen starlings shuddered.
“We’ll muster a military,” roared the wind as loudly as she may, to verify the starlings heard her above the shriek.
“We’re on this collectively.”
The wind gathered the starlings of their hundreds and the sixteen led their fellows in big flocks, whereas the horrible shriek of the locusts made them assume they may explode.
Some flocks ploughed into the large swarm from its sides; some flew excessive on the wind, flattened their wings and nose-dived into the strong shrieking mass whereas the locusts hunched below their shells and sharpened the spikes on their legs.
However the wind got here from all instructions and helped the starlings pierce the locusts’ shells with their sharp beaks, the air was a mass of flying black feathers and falling our bodies.
It was a horrible, scary struggle and lots of instances the terrified starlings felt too weak to go on. However the wind whistled and whispered that they had been preventing for the lifetime of the earth herself, and the starlings had been stuffed with distinctive braveness – a braveness they’d by no means felt earlier than.
They returned repeatedly to the guts of the sticky-black swarm of locusts, whereas the wind blew them onwards.
Some starlings had been blinded, some had been spiked and others bled a lot from their rubbed-raw beaks that they fell to the bottom. However, at any time when she may, the wind carried them removed from their battlefields to security.
Six of the unique sixteen starlings had been among the many wounded: they’d led their flocks into the shrieking swarm till they had been so drained they fell to the bottom whereas the battle raged on above them.
However simply when the shriek was at its sharpest and the darkness of the swarm was at its deepest – simply when the starlings thought they actually couldn’t go on – chinks of sunshine began appearing contained in the shrieking swarm. The chinks of sunshine warmed the starlings’ backs, once they blinked up into the attractive yellow gentle they gathered what was left of their energy for one last assault.
The wind blew and blew. However, this time, because the starlings ploughed in and nose-dived down, the shrieking swarm scattered.
On the finish of that lengthy and horrible day, silence returned to the good, flat, grassy plain within the coronary heart of the guts of Africa, the solar shed a wonderful orange gentle on the starlings’ victory and the wind carried them residence.
When the starlings woke the subsequent morning, the wind ruffled their feathers in honor.
The wind spoke to all of them “All you starlings who fought the locusts yesterday, all who ploughed in and nose-dived down, all who discovered their braveness and refused to let the shriek defeat them,” the wind took a deep breath, “you’re the bravest of birds. You defended the earth towards her enemy. You’ve got gained a terrific victory.”
The starlings drank from their little gourds of water because the wind mentioned, “The bushes and the thorn bushes, the grasses and all of your fellow creatures have requested me to thanks for preventing for them.
“They know they wouldn’t be right here this morning, if not for you. Lots of your fellow creatures spent the night time bringing water from the good pink river to point out you the way grateful they’re.”
The starlings started to wash their sticky black feathers of their little gourds of water. “All that thrives on this earth,” the wind mentioned, “all of your fellow creatures have agreed that the earth’s highest honor shall be yours. From at the moment, each starling who fought the shrieking swarm will probably be awarded good flying colours. There isn’t any increased reward nor deeper thanks.”
The starlings stopped cleansing their feathers and gasped.“Watch the colours come,” mentioned the wind. “First, comes the pink of the earth whose life you’ve got saved.”
The starlings noticed streaks and rays of pink circulation in direction of them within the mild wind. Some caught it and rubbed it onto their breasts.
“Subsequent comes orange,” mentioned the wind. “The orange of the solar as he set on the finish of your victorious day.”
Rays of orange rippled by way of the massed ranks of starlings. Some caught it and ruffled it onto amongst their feathers; some rubbed it onto their bellies.
“Subsequent,” mentioned the wind, “comes yellow. The yellow of the solar that lights and warms our days, the yellow the shrieking swarm so almost took away without end.
“And right here too is inexperienced, the inexperienced of the grasses and the inexperienced of the bushes who wouldn’t be right here this morning, with out you.”
Yellow and inexperienced shimmered on the wind among the many starlings. Some caught the yellow and put it on the backs of their heads, some flicked inexperienced onto one another’s wings and all their our bodies started to glow with the colours.
“As you select your flying colours,” whispered the wind, “keep in mind your fellow starlings, those who fell yesterday. Depart a black patch someplace in your our bodies for his or her sakes.”
The starlings stood nonetheless and silent as they remembered their fellows.
“And now comes pale blue for the morning sky, and deep blue for the night sky: the identical skies that will have been misplaced to us without end, with out you.” The wind mentioned.
The blues flew in direction of the starlings. Some made deep blue stripes on their wings; others rubbed pale blue flecks onto their throats.
“Now comes violet,” mentioned the wind. “The violet of the very biggest. The violet of heroes.”
When the violet swirled in direction of the starlings they caught a number of it: they swished it onto their bellies and swung it onto their wings and swirled stripes of violet spherical their necks.
“Lastly,” mentioned the wind, “comes white.”
The starlings streaked white onto the ideas of their wings and striped it throughout their breasts.
“Put on your flying colours with delight,” whistled the wind. “Inform anybody who asks you that you just earned them in a terrific battle that saved our world.”
The starlings’ colours shone and shimmered within the daylight and the wind hummed and thrummed round them, congratulating them on their victory.
And that, as you would possibly have already got guessed, is the explanation African starlings are brilliantly, brightly coloured. It’s why there are shiny violet-black starlings, shiny blue and inexperienced starlings, violet and yellow starlings, and starlings with splashes of pink and orange on their our bodies.
It’s additionally why each African starling carries at the very least one patch of black on his or her physique: to remind them of their fellow starlings, those who gave their all within the nice battle towards the shrieking locust swarm.
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