Once there were three Maasai elders. Like all Maasai men, they each had a Maasai sword. Now the first elder was a strong man, and he did not fear anything. Because he was so strong and brave, he stopped carrying his sword with him. Instead, he kept it in a safe place, hidden in his house. So one day when that elder went into the forest to search for a lost cow, he did not carry his sword with him. But before he found the cow, a hungry leopard found him! Even though that elder’s arms were very strong, because he did not have a sword, the leopard ate him.
The second elder was wiser than that elder who was eaten by the leopard. Even though he was also strong and brave, he always carried his sword with him. However, he did not take proper care of it. He did not use it very often, and he never oiled it. When the sword in its sheath became wet, he did not dry it. One day, his favorite sheep became lost in the forest. Before he went to look for it, he made sure that his sword was in its sheath on his belt. Soon, he found his sheep and began to lead it back to his village. But before he emerged from the forest, he found a lioness which wanted to eat his sheep. Because he had his sword, the elder was not afraid. But when he tried to draw the sword out of the sheath, it was stuck! The sheath had shrunk and the sword had rusted, so that the sheath held the sword tightly. While he was struggling to remove his weapon, the lioness killed both the man and his sheep.
The third elder was the wisest of all. Everyday he carefully sharpened the blade of his sword and oiled it before putting into the sheath. Every morning he made sure that the sword was loose in its sheath so that he could remove it quickly if he needed it. He never left his house without securing the sword to himself on his belt. So one day during the dry season when he was looking for a lost cow, he was prepared for any trouble he might find. And he did find trouble! For when he found his lost cow, it had just been slain by the largest lion he had ever seen! In his anger, he drew forth his sword and attacked the lion. Even though he was not carrying his shield or his spear, he was able to defend himself with his sword because his disciplined practice of using it every day had given him great skill. As he was fighting the lion, two of the elder’s friends who were also in the forest heard the battle and ran with their spears to help him. Together, they slew the lion.