Dogs in a Manger & Ever Grazing Cattle – Double Wahala for the Guardians

There was a dog lying in a manger who did not eat the grain, but who nevertheless prevented the horse from being able to eat anything either.” Laura Gibbs (Wikipedia)

The metaphor of The Dog in the Manger is said to be from an old Greek fable usually ascribed to Aesop’s Fables. This phenomenon however is not just a fable but a reality in the present time. Dogs in a manger include the envious, who are usually incurable according the Nigerian Philosopher, he says “the bottom line is that success invites envy and envy is not easily cured.” Olusegun Obasanjo (My Watch). See more from the Nigerian Philosopher in the related article in the link below:

Leadership means getting things done – with Epictetus, the Nigerian Philosopher and Seneca

Rather than using their time and brains to think constructively, the envious dogs in a manger, spend time plotting evil against the guardians of the State. What the Guardians possess, does not affect the meal tickets of the envious, but they would insist on focusing on trying to spoil the success of the Guardians. While these dogs in the manger waste valuable time with envious thoughts and plots, the Guardians keep on breaking new grounds and increasing the gap between themselves and the dogs, stirring up even more envy; this goes on and on like this, because we have been told that the envy of the dogs in a manger is incurable. This phenomenon has been there since antiquity; but the trouble is not only having dogs in the manger, but also having to deal with the greedy who like cattle, cannot stop grazing. Hear Plato on this:

Those then who know not wisdom and virtue, and are always busy with gluttony and sensuality, go down and up again as far as the mean; and in this region they move at random throughout life, but they never pass into the true upper world; thither they neither look, nor do they ever find their way, neither are they truly filled with true being, nor do they taste of pure and abiding pleasure. Like cattle, with their eyes always looking down and their heads stooping to the earth, that is, to the dining-table, they fatten and feed and breed, and, in their excessive love of these delights, they kick and butt at one another with horns and hoofs which are made of iron; and they kill one another by reason of their insatiable lust. For they fill themselves with that which is not substantial, and the part of themselves which they fill is also unsubstantial and incontinent.

Verily, Socrates, said Glaucon, you describe the life of the many like an oracle.”

Excerpt From
The Republic

Fela Anikulapo Kuti – Activist and Artiste Source: The Guardian Nigeria

This double trouble of dogs in a manger and ever grazing cattle is a societal ill that must be checked for any meaningful progress to be achieved. This can be done by identifying those who are by nature guardians of their States. I hope you enjoy Plato’s dialogue below on identification of guardians:

…No tools will make a man a skilled workman, or master of defence, nor be of any use to him who has not learned how to handle them, and has never bestowed any attention upon them. How then will he who takes up a shield or other implement of war become a good fighter all in a day, whether with heavy-armed or any other kind of troops?

Yes, he said, the tools which would teach men their own use would be beyond price.

And the higher the duties of the guardian, I said, the more time, and skill, and art, and application will be needed by him?

No doubt, he replied.

Will he not also require natural aptitude for his calling?


Then it will be our duty to select, if we can, natures which are fitted for the task of guarding the city?

It will.

And the selection will be no easy matter, I said; but we must be brave and do our best.

We must.

Is not the noble youth very like a well-bred dog in respect of guarding and watching?

“What do you mean?

I mean that both of them ought to be quick to see, and swift to overtake the enemy when they see him; and strong too if, when they have caught him, they have to fight with him.

All these qualities, he replied, will certainly be required by them.

Well, and your guardian must be brave if he is to fight well?


And is he likely to be brave who has no spirit, whether horse or dog or any other animal? Have you never observed how invincible and unconquerable is spirit and how the presence of it makes the soul of any creature to be absolutely fearless and indomitable?”

Excerpt From
The Republic

If we must classify the dregs of society I am inclined to think the ever grazing cattle to be better than the dogs in the manger; however I fear I may be wrong and decide that they are one and the same! And that it would be better to seek out the guardians of the city and nurture them as stated by Socrates.

Wahala is a term in the Hausa language (a Nigerian language which spreads to other parts of the African continent) meaning trouble. This Hausa term was made particularly popular by the Late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, when he sang “double wahala for dead body for dead body and the owner of dead body” in protest of the brutalization and killing of his mother by “Unknown Soldiers”. Like Fela, the Guardians must expect and prepare for double trouble especially from the dogs in the manger and the ever grazers.

What are your thoughts? Who are you or whom do you wish to be? The dog in the manger, the ever grazing cattle, or the guardian of the city?

People make the mistake of generalizations for example thinking all poor people are good (Guardians) and all the elite are bad (dogs in the manger and the greedy). This is erroneous as you find this mix (the good, the bad and the ugly) in all social strata, and it is left for the discerning to identify who is who. This is because even amongst self-acclaimed guardians and activists you have this mix of characters and motives. This must be why Thrasymachus argued with Socrates that justice is only the interest of the stronger. For Socrates’ response see related articles:

The Consolation – with Socrates, Marcus Aurelius and The Psalmist

Justice – with Socrates, Glaucon and Adeimantus

Ande Elisha

The Amateur Philosopher