“Mark of The Hyena: An Electric Eclectic Book” – By Mark Fine

mark of the Hyena
Available on Amazon

I’ve enjoyed Mark Fine’s writing since I read his novel, The Zebra Affaire. Delighted to find his Electric Eclectic novelette, Mark of the Hyena, I eagerly dove into reading it. Fine’s writing is almost poetic; his use of words musical. This short story captures all the beauty and harshness of sub-Sahara Africa. When the San Bushman of the Kalahari, N!xau, comes across the barely living Professor Werner, this cautionary tale of “civilized” man versus “savage” begins.

N!xau and his tribe have been pursuing an Oryx antelope when they discovered Werner, injured and dehydrated. Werner is in Africa fulfilling a bet; a bet he was confident he would win. The professor believes the San are “inept primitives.” However, it is the primitive San who provide Werner with some liquid which is acquired using fundamental skills; skills Werner, an egotistical American, knows nothing of. However, Werner views himself as superior to these diminutive people. Unable to communicate effectively, Werner is brought to the camp and cared for by N!xau and his wife, K/ora.

Instead of appreciating the skills of the people, Werner views them as ignorant. Judging himself as superior, the tall, pale man believes he is entitled to all they can offer. Neither aware of, or caring to understand, what the tribe values, he takes advantage of their generosity.

What Werner fails to appreciate is his lack of understanding of the ways of the people and the dangers of the situation show him to be the ignorant one. He is spied committing a heinous act by N!xau’s son, !Xi. Even a child in the desolate area is wiser than the well educated foreigner. The consequences of Werner’s false belief that he is the supreme being in this situation is proved wrong in a most delightful manner.

Fine’s ability to present characters as diverse as these is a tremendous skill. The Bushmen are simple; their wisdom born of generations of experience passed down orally. Werner’s education does him no good in the strange environment he has taken no time to familiarize himself with.

Fine educates the reader in this story. Set against the rich panorama of Africa, he reminds us that modern man is not always wiser or better equipped to survive in all settings. Sometimes it would be better to observe and listen; he might learn something valuable that can save his life. I highly recommend this well-written and profound story.



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