Thinking things through

Philosophy for Juniors

Humfry Hippo
Thoughtful Tales for Little Ones


Selfishness and Guilt




Philosophy for Seniors

A Matter of Life and Death

Human Needs

Humfry hippo moves home

Tale 5 provides an opportunity for children to:

  • Talk about making new friends.
  • Think about being welcoming to strangers.
  • Reflect on how special friends are in your life.
  • Consider how they can keep both old and new friends.

Tale 5: Humfry is happy in his new home

Humfry enjoys his new life. He has a nice new waterhole, with plenty of fresh water to drink.

He has trees to shade him from the mid-day sun, and he likes his new friends, Joel, Flo and Emeka.

Joel tells Humfry that he, Flo and Emeka came to Uganda from the Congo. They used to live in Virunga National Park, home of the mountain gorillas. Unfortunately, the humans there seem to have gone mad. They were always fighting each other. Things became so dangerous that they had to leave. They miss their home – especially their friends and family. But Uganda is a more peaceful place to live. They are pleased that they met Humfry, who has become their good friend. They are grateful to him for letting them share his waterhole. It is the perfect place to relax in the heat of day.

Humfry was missing home and beginning to feel lonely before Joel, Flo and Emeka came along. They all get on well together and this makes him very happy, but Humfry has not forgotten his old friends and he hopes to see them again…sometime.

When he is resting in the shade of the trees, Humfry loves to watch the other animals coming down to the waterhole to drink when it is hot. You can always tell when the zebras are coming. They announce their arrival with a raucous neigh. Zebras are very fussy about water. They like it to be clean and they always blow away the dirt from the surface before they drink.

Antelopes, like these eland, approach the water cautiously, looking around them all the time. They are worried that there might be a crocodile in the water or lions, lying in wait ready to catch them. They stay at the water’s edge for the shortest possible time. They drink quickly and retreat to the safety of the bush.

Wart hogs appear from nowhere. They trot out of the bush and stride confidently to the water’s edge. They hold their tails in the air, like little flag poles. Each hog drinks quickly and leaves before danger strikes.

Humfry likes to watch all the animals, but his favourite is the giraffe. Giraffes are so very tall, and he is always amazed by how they get their heads down to reach the water. They spread their front legs as wide as they will go, then slowly lower their long necks and heads to drink. The water has to be sucked a long way up their necks. Humfry is surprised that it ever reaches their stomachs.

It is late afternoon, but the sun is still high in the sky. He watches the butterflies sipping water and minerals from the wet mud by the side of the waterhole. There are so many of them. Whenever an animal disturbs them, they fly up in a colourful cloud and then slowly resettle to their place in the mud.

Humfry thinks to himself, “I am so happy here. Life couldn’t be better!”

But, can you guess what happens next?

Quiet! Shh! Humfry thinks he can hear faint mumbles in the distance.

He turns his ears towards the sound and listens very carefully.

The mumbles get closer and closer, and louder and louder.

It reminds him of when Joel, Flo and Emeka arrived.

Who could it be?

Humfry wonders if, this time, it could be his old friends. Perhaps they have followed him to the new waterhole. He starts to feel excited at the thought of meeting up with them again. His ears twitch and his tail waggles in excitement.

Would he be disappointed again? Are there more strangers coming to share his waterhole? Welcoming Joel, Flo and Emeka had turned out well. But did he want even more strangers to come?

In the distance, he could see three hippos, approaching the waterhole. As they came even closer, he realised they were familiar faces. To his great joy, he could now make out his lovely cousins, Pietro and Arianna. And, they were with one of his best friends, Alice. It is such a long time since he had seen them. He could not contain his excitement.

Joel, Flo and Emeka could not believe their eyes when they saw Humfry’s reaction. One minute he was bathing quietly in the water. The next he was yelling, at the top of his voice, “Hello, cousins!”. “Hello, Pietro…., Arianna…. and Alice.” “It is Humfry!”, I am here, says he as he rushes through the water towards them. He moves so fast that he leaves a huge wave of water in his wake. He bounds from the waterhole and rushes through the grass to greet his cousins and his old friend. And they rush towards him. In fact, they rush so fast that it looks as if they might crash and bump heads. Fortunately, they stop just in time. They have so much to talk about that they chat twenty to the dozen. They all want to tell their stories, and nobody can hear what the others are saying.

After a while, when the excitement subsides, Humfry says, “Should we get into the water and cool down?” “I have made some new friends from the Congo. Would you like to meet them?” Pietro, Arianna and Alice are delighted to meet Joel, Flo and Emeka. It is good to have new friends who come from such an interesting place. They had heard of the Congo, but these are the first hippos they had met who actually come from there.

They tell each other what they have been up to in the last few days, and of their lives before that.

Here they all are together, lying contentedly in the cool water, learning about each other’s adventures.

They are so pleased to be together that they don’t feel the least bit hungry, but I think they will be, by the time it gets dark. Don’t you? At night-time they will do what all hippos do. They will go onto the land to feed on the grass.

Until then, they will chatter and enjoy watching the other animals come to the waterhole to drink. As Humfry points out the butterflies to the others, he sees his favourite animal coming down to the water.

Can you remember which animal that is?

Yes, it is the giraffe.

And can you remember how the giraffe manages to drink?

He spreads out his front legs and slowly lowers his neck and head down to the water.

Humfry has found such a lovely place for his new home.

Life is perfect, now that he has both his old and his new friends with him.

And, they all lived happily ever after!

Between true friends even water drank together is sweet enough.

African proverb

%d bloggers like this: