The okapi – no ordinary knife

2012-03-02 10:14

We all should know that there are hidden meanings to everything we eat, wear or carry in our pockets. And how those meanings are interpreted depends on who is doing the interpretation.

For instance, a pair of All Star Chuck Taylor high tops on the feet of young black men wearing fishermen’s hats might just be a pair of comfortable shoes to them. But people of the sweeter side of the breadline will almost always see it another way. Those shoes have become synonymous with smash and grabbers or purse snatchers. Just like a purple suit and a matching fedora will always scream pimp daddy, without question.

However, very few utensils have enjoyed as much of a reputation on township streets and rural passages as the contraption of wood and steel we call an okapi.

It has over the years worked its magic as a badge for a well-earned street cred, and as the proud mark of an elder well worth his weight in slain cows.

The okapi is no ordinary knife. It’s a repository of a vast set of holy traditions and memories that run as deep as the wounds of plain halfwits and all manner of simpletons found lost in the streets by ravenous thugs.

You wouldn’t tell this from just looking at it though. The ideal one is a mere 10cm when folded and tucked away in the back pocket or lying innocently in a tool drawer.

However, with a slight up-swirl of the owner’s adrenaline, this simple utility tool turns into a murderous extension of a thug’s arm, or the ritual slaughterer’s devoted instrument – erect at a terrifying 17cm. The vicious blade announces itself with the animal that names it etched halfway on its side from the pointed tip.

On the neck and spine of its elegantly polished handle runs a silver plating that gives the okapi its distinctive two-toned design.

It starts out thick and elliptical, becoming thin and pointed as it reaches the tail. At the halfway point is where the blade meets the mahogany handle, complete with the decorative ring for detail.

Now, should you find an okapi clenched in a sweaty palm, the silver back lining provides for a cold stinging sensation as if to keep your pulse in check.

The ring, which novelty collectors often use to turn the okapi into a key ring, has been reported to be very useful by experienced users. It’s said that after a really deep stabbing, this knife, like any other blade, tends to get stuck. In that event, you can use the ring to pull it out with the help of your thumb.

That done, the object can continue with whatever dialogue your dashiki is hip enough to get it into.

» Follow me on Twitter @Percy_Mabandu


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