The Wisent and the Buffalo, A Short Fable about the Afro-Euro-American Relation

The Fable

A lonely wisent bull from a northern meadow once decided to explore the southern meadow. Stepping from the green grass to the yellow grass he there found an abandoned buffalo calf. The wisent bull saw in the buffalo calf an opportunity for herd forming around himself as alpha bull and asked the buffalo calf to come with him to the new north-western meadow of the bison. The buffalo calf however refused. The wisent bull didn't take that and tied a rope on the one side around his own waist and on the other side around the waist of the buffalo calf. Wherever the wisent bull now went, there the buffalo calf had to follow. 'You are bossy!' protested the buffalo calf then. 'You are complaintive!' the reaction then was of the wisent bull. Thus they travelled together to the north-western meadow where they lived together. With the passing of time the buffalo calf grew into a grown buffalo and the wisent came to the realization that it wasn't appropriate to bind a grown fellow bull to himself. Thus he untied the rope. The buffalo was now free to go where he wanted. Nevertheless not much changed in the relation between the wisent and the buffalo. Where the wisent went, there the buffalo followed, as if the rope was never untied. 'You are bossy!' the buffalo kept protesting. 'You are complaintive!' the wisent kept reacting. Both bulls did know that the rope had disappeared, but they were so used to their mutual relations that out of habit they maintained these. One day however the frustrations about the mutual relations rose with the buffalo, and he give the wisent a bump with his horns. The wisent was shocked and didn't really know if he had to apologize for his bossiness or had to reprimand the buffalo for his complaintiveness.


The wisent bull is the European and the northern meadow is Europe. The entering of the wisent in the southern meadow represents the colonizing of Africa by the European. There he found the African, symbolized by the buffalo calf. That the buffalo is still a calf and the wisent a grown bull indicates that the African at the entrance of the European in Africa was still less developed than the European, expressed by their unequal relations of power. That the wisent bull saw in the buffalo calf a possibility for herd forming around himself as alpha bull symbolizes the self-centred intention of the European to use the African for his own interests. The rope with which the wisent bull bound the buffalo calf to himself represents then the execution of the racial law or racial lawlessness which enslaved the African to the European. That the buffalo calf had to forcibly follow the wisent bull everywhere indicates the obedience which the African had to give to the will of the European. Their travel to the north-western meadow of the bison symbolizes the colonization of North-America by the Europeans and Africans, whereby the bison at the side symbolizes the indigenous North-American. That the buffalo comes to stand grown next to the wisent in the north-western meadow symbolizes the equality of the (in the meantime) Afro-American and the Euro-American, and that the wisent comes to this realization represents the becoming aware of the aforementioned equality by the Euro-American. The untying of the rope symbolizes then the abolishment of slavery and apartheid. That the relations between the wisent and the buffalo however after the untying stay the same indicates that also after the abolishment of slavery and apartheid the Afro-American kept a docile attitude towards the Euro-American, who towards the aforementioned kept a leading attitude. This attitude then has, according to the fable, nothing to do with the ruling laws but with the psychic states which developed on base of former ruling laws. These psychic states are by the buffalo and the wisent expressed in the blaming of each other. As the buffalo protests against the wisent by calling him 'bossy, thus the Afro-American protests against the by him considered dominance of the Euro-American. And like the wisent reacts to the buffalo by calling him 'complaintive', thus the Euro-American reacts to the by him considered ungrounded complaints of the Afro-American. The risen frustrations of the buffalo which lead to the given bump to the wisent symbolize the risen frustrations of the Afro-American and his offensive protests which hit the Euro-American. This shocks, like the wisent, the Euro-American. And the doubt of the wisent about how to react represents conclusively the dividedness of the Euro-American about how to react to the protests: a part of the Euro-Americans apologize and a part of them reprimand the Afro-American because of the already present constitutional equality.


The European and the African share with each other a history of centuries and it is plausible that they are engaging a shared future of centuries. The history has for a long time been characterized by a physically enforced boundedness of the African to the European, of the Afro-American to the Euro-American. This boundedness formed the psyche of both in relation to each other. The privileged position of the European, later Euro-American, in relation to the African, later Afro-American, has imbued him with the delusionary idea that it are only his exertions which brought him success. His masterhood over the latter made the illusion root in him that he is superior. On the other side the unprivileged position of the African, later Afro-American, in relation to the European, later Euro-American, has imbued him with the delusionary idea that his exertions are useless and that he will never be successful. His servitude under the latter made the illusion root in him that he is inferior. The collective psyche of the Euro-American is still dominantly bossy and the collective psyche of the Afro-American is still dominantly complaintive.

The difference of nature of both types of psyche brings in interaction friction and misunderstanding about. The Euro-American feels misunderstood by the Afro-American in his assertiveness, and the latter feels misunderstood by the first in his victimage. This mutual misunderstanding sometimes leads at both sides to frustration and even anger which, when not immediately expressed, are bottled up. This goes in the above described relation especially for the Afro-American. For the master who exerts his will in general experiences less frustration than the servant whose will cannot be exerted. Thus we see the Afro-American on base of a presumed servitude which by the presumed master is denied much frustration and anger bottled up. And because the psyche, both individually and collectively, has only a limited capacity it cannot be otherwise than that at certain moments such frustration and anger make themselves known in an explosive way in the outer world.

This we saw for instance happen with the Black Lives Matter demonstrations which followed the filmed death of an Afro-American citizen through the actions of an Euro-American police officer. The Afro-American with those protests bumps the Euro-American, who is divided in his reaction. A part of the Euro-Americans acknowledges the victimage of the Afro-Americans and joins the demonstrations and another part denies that victimage and wishes a stopping of the demonstrations.

It can be said that in the relation between Afro- and Euro-Americans with the demonstrations a point of crisis is reached. It is not the first point of crisis and it shall likely not be the last point of crisis, however nevertheless it is a point of crisis. Now a point of crisis can be visualized as the small part of an hourglass where the two conical parts thereof come together and are connected. It is in this way that a crisis connects the past with the future. A crisis always offers possibilities for a renewal because therein the ways of the past are evaluated and the ways of the future are designed. And that thus also goes for the Afro-Euro-American crisis which is here the subject of consideration.

This crisis of relations between Afro- and Euro-Americans offers a good chance to better them. Betterment however also means change. And because relations consist of attitudes it are the latter that have to change, better. The present attitudes have been described above. The Euro-American relates to himself as superior, to the Afro-American as bossy and to the society in which both come together as active. And the Afro-American relates to himself as inferior, to the Euro-American as complaintive and to the society in which both come together as passive. It are these attitudes of which the relation between Afro- and Euro-Americans consists and every change of attitude therein will also bring about a change of relation.

The above means that it is asked of the Euro-American to let go of his superiority complex to the point of acknowledgement of equality, to bring his bossiness towards the Afro-American to a support of the self-determination of the latter, and to bring his social activity to a rest so that a social space comes to being for the Afro-American. Of that latter then is asked to let go of his inferiority complex to the point of acknowledgement of equality, to bring his complaintiveness towards the Euro-American to an acknowledgement of the self-determination of the latter, and to bring his social passivity to assertiveness so he can take in social space.

The above mentioned changes of attitudes regard all psychic factors. The unequal relations as they now exist between Afro- and Euro-Americans are not so much physical but rather psychic of nature. For the physical rope, to word it according to the introductory fable, has already been untied. The emphasis in this crisis then should be laid upon a change of psychic elements instead of physical elements. After all it is mainly the physical reality which follows the psychic reality. The continuing inequality after the constitutional equalization shows this. The removal of cultural expressions of the Euro-American then is not of decisive meaning. At its best it is of value to work out the bottled up anger and frustration of the Afro-American. However when no psychic changes follow the old relations shall be maintained and new anger and frustration shall be bottled up.

It is also not so that only the Euro-American is asked for a change of attitude. For a maximal change this is also asked of the Afro-American. It are the attitudes of both parties which maintain the present relations, and not just the attitudes of the Euro-American. The Euro-American must create space for the Afro-American, but the latter must demand that space for himself. And that demanding he doesn't do so much through the removing of Euro-American cultural expressions and through protests but by conquering in a constructive way a place in society. May thus then the Afro-Euro-American crisis be the incentive for that.