“The best man in the whole tribe is Masabo the brave,” everyone chanted. You could see for yourself, at any time of the day, just how brave he was.
He would jump to the ground from amazing heights, fight poisonous snakes, catch scorpions with his bare hands, and cut the palm of his own hand with a knife - without even a flinch.
But they said the exact opposite about Mutabazi. No one had seen him catch even a monkey.
One day, they met each other in the forest, and Masabo was showing Mutabazi a coral snake he had just caught, when a downpour began, the likes of which no one had ever seen.
They both ran to look for shelter under thick foliage and there they stayed until the rain had stopped.
However, when they were about to leave the shelter, they heard the roar of a tiger, a couple of meters away.
The foliage was very thick and dense, and the tiger wouldn’t be able to get through to attack them.
However, the tiger was almost at the entrance hole.
If it happened to come in and find the two tribesmen there, they certainly wouldn’t get out alive.
Masabo was getting restless. He wanted to get out of that tight hole, and confront the tiger in open space, where he could fully use his great hunting skills.
Mutabazi on the other hand kept gesturing at him to keep still and be quiet, but Masabo, tired of being stuck with a coward, leapt out of the thicket, and surprised the tiger.
The tiger suffered a couple of deep wounds, but soon recovered and hurt Masabo with two swipes of its paw, throwing him to the ground.
The tiger took the initiative, and leapt upon Masabo, but Masabo’s spear, in the hands of Mutabazi, interrupted the tiger’s attack.
The tiger turned away, wounded, but the spear moved as fast as a beam of light, and with incredible precision, hurting the animal again and again, until it fell to the ground, lifeless.
Masabo, shocked, and bleeding freely from his injuries, witnessed all this while lying flat on his back on the ground.
Never before had he seen anyone take on a tiger, and use the spear with such calmness and strength, as he had seen Mutabazi do.
Neither of them said a thing. Masabo’s grateful expression needed no words to be understood. Nor did they need words to know about Mutabazi’s wounded hand, or the fact that they were leaving a tiger skin there in the forest.
From that day on, people gradually remarked less on Masabo’s braveness. They thought maybe he was less courageous than before.
The strangest thing was that they now noticed that Masabo’s old spear was among Mutabazi’s things.
But Masabo just smiled, and remembered the day he learned that true bravery lay not in seeking out danger, but in controlling one’s fear when danger crosses your path.
Moral: Bravery is a lot different from recklessness. Bravery is not searching out fear or danger, but being able to control fear when it most matters.