Someone wisely observed that an elephant is hard to describe, but you’ll know one when you see it. (For a good illustration of this idea, see the poem in Amandala, 17/10/2004.) The principle applies to a variety of “elephants”, the origins of folklore being an excellent example. Writing as “…a Barracks Boy” in a local paper in December, 2004, Mr. Alfonso C. Ramirez had several of them in mind as he provided us with a trove of historical tidbits. Here’s one from the era of the standpipes:
I was lucky at the standpipe since there was only one person ahead of me. Many times one had to wait long periods just to get a bucket of water. The situation many times caused tempers to flare…as over-zealous patrons, fought for their turn (sic) to get the precious water. There were persons who actually controlled certain standpipes and these stand-pipe bosses were called “Bembes”.
I don’t know about you, but my money is on the guy who has actually seen the elephant he is describing for us.