Upon reading the title - “The Gentlemen of the Jungle” – readers might expect Jomo Kenyatta's short story to revolve around some gentlemen who end up in the jungle. However, the story reveals itself to be a fable, which means that the author uses animal characters with human personality traits to deliver a moral lesson about society.
The gentlemen of the jungle are Mr Elephant, Mr Rhinoceros, Mr Buffalo, Mr Alligator, the Rt Hon Mr Fox, Mr Hyena, Mr Leopard, and the King of the jungle, the Lion. Their gentleman-like qualities are mostly suggested by their diplomatic attitude and their formal language: “ ‘In our opinion this dispute has arisen through a regrettable misunderstanding due to the backwardness of your ideas. We consider that Mr Elephant has fulfilled his sacred duty of protecting your interests.’ ” (p. 173, ll. 3-6)
However, here we also notice their sense of superiority over the man, whom they consider to be too ignorant to understand what has happened between him and the Elephant. Moreover, they treat the man unjustly – they do not listen to his testimony (p. 172, ll. 38-42) and take his hut and the other huts he builds:
‘Mr Elephant shall continue his occupation of your hut’ (…) But no sooner had he built another hut than Mr Rhinoceros charged in with his horn (…) This procedure was repeated until Mr Buffalo, Mr Leopard, Mr Hyena and the rest were all accommodated (p. 173, ll. 10-20)