The Test Of A Zulu Boy
Posted On: 2021-03-12

Cubmaster, Bobcat candidates, and their parents.

White adhesive tape, Bobcat badges, safety pins.

The Cubmaster brings boys and their parents forward.

Cubmaster: [Boys' names] have successfully completed the test for Bobcat. Before we present them with the badge of the Bobcat, let me tell you all a story of long ago, about the test young Zulu boys, were given.

Before they were allowed to become scouts and warriors, Zulu boys had to pass a pretty tough examination. This is what they had to do:

When a boy was nearly old enough to be a warrior, he was taken aside, stripped of his clothing, and painted white all over. He was given a shield and a small spear with which to protect himself and to kill small animals. He was then sent into the bush.

Anyone seeing the boy while he was painted white would hunt and kill him, and that white paint took about a month to wear off-it would not wash off.

So, for a month the boy had to hide in the bush and live as well as he could. He had to follow the tracks of the deer, and creep near enough to spear the animal to get food and clothing for himself. He had to make a fire to cook with by rubbing two sticks together; he had no matches. He had to be careful not to let his fire smoke too much, or it would catch the eye of scouts on the lookout for him. He had to be able to run long distances, climb trees, and swim rivers in order to escape from his pursuers. He had to be brave and stand up to a lion or any other wild animal that attacked him.

He had to know which plants were good to eat and which were poisonous. He had to make his own cooking pots out of tree bark or clay. He had to build himself a well-hidden hut to live in. He had to take care that wherever he went, he left no tracks for his enemies to follow. If he snored when he was asleep, it would give him away to a keen-eared enemy. He soon learned to sleep with his mouth shut and to breathe quietly through his nose.

For a month he had to live this life, sometimes in burning heat, sometimes in cold and rain. When at last the white stain had worn off, he was able to return to his village, where he was received with great joy and allowed to take his place among the young warriors of the tribe. He could go on to become a 'ring-top'-that is a proven warrior, who was allowed to wear a ring on his head. Then he could possibly go on and earn the honorable title of a wolf. But you can imagine that many boys who went out did not get through their white period at all. Some were killed by wild animals; some were killed by enemies; and some died of starvation, exposure, or by drowning. Only the best among them survived.

It was a pretty stiff exam, wasn't it?

Cub Scouting has its tests also. With the help of your parents, you have completed the first test of a Cub Scout-Bobcat.

It is now my pleasure and joy to present this badge and to call you a 'Bobcat.' (The Cubmaster gives the badges to parents to pin on the boys.)

Are you now ready to follow the [Wolf, Bear, or Webelos] trail? (The boys answer.) You have answered that you are ready. Then seal that pledge by giving the Cub Scout Promise. (They do.) Let me now, as the leader of this tribe, give you a reminder of the tests that lay before you. (The Cubmaster places a strip of white adhesive tape on each boy's forehead.) Remember that some do not successfully complete the tests. In the Cub Scout Promise, you promised to do your best. If you always remember to do your best, you will successfully walk the trail of the [Wolf, Bear, or Webelos]. Go now and do your best, and return to me as an honorable [Wolf, Bear, or Webelos] Scout.