My Tribe

By Shamma Esoof

We were here first.

We were here before Kuala Lumpur was even Kuala Lumpur. We’ve been here for countless generations.

Our land was invaded. We now have to live among the Invaders. We are an inconvenience. Helplessly, we have watched as the Invaders imposed themselves and their ways on us.

We became entertainment for them. They come in their cars, on their motorbikes. They bring their kids. They throw junk food at us. They throw sticks and stones. They point and laugh at us. They stomp at us, scare us. They kidnap our babies. We don’t know where they take them. We just never see them again.

There isn’t much to eat here. Starved, one day my friend picked up a red thing on the ground. It looked like candy. Someone had thrown it in his direction, laughing. It exploded in his hand, mutilating him.

He agonized for days. We couldn’t help him. We could only try to comfort him. A few days later, he got hit by a car and passed away. My friend. My family.

We are many, you see. We live together at the same place in Ampang. Life is far from easy in this big city but we are resilient. We take care of each other. We take turns to watch all the babies. We teach them to stay far away from the Invaders. We are a community. We endure.

We have to rely on the very people who put us in this situation for food. They bring us stale bread, mouldy cake, sugary and salty junk food. Then, they leave all the trash behind. Occasionally, some of them will try to clean up. More Invaders will litter the next day.

Invaders don’t seem to know that it is rude to throw food at us. Some of our elders do not appreciate it, so they march up to them and yank the food out of their hands. The Invaders do not know how to give with dignity. They throw, spit, curse, laugh.

Invaders are violent and vicious. They think the same of us. They don’t seem to know that we only get that way to protect ourselves. They, on the other hand, seem to enjoy inflicting pain on us. Invaders don’t seem to know a lot of things.

If they only knew that we feel pain, love, joy and sorrow. Just because we are monkeys, does not mean we don’t deserve respect from the human Invader.

Shamma Esoof Submission 2
Photograph courtesy of Shamma Esoof


Shamma lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She is an animal welfare activist and award-winning wildlife portrait photographer (she graciously provided the picture on the left), concerned with nature conservation and raising awareness about animal cognition. For more about Shamma, visit

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