At the beginning of the book, Simba spots a particularly big and bright star in the night sky. Mufasa tells Simba that it is Mohatu, a Great King of the Past and the lion who ruled before Ahadi. Simba asks how his spirit became a star, and Mufasa tells his son the story.
In Mohatu's day, there was a terrible drought. In order to spread rations fairly, Mohatu made a law about how much water each animal could drink. He also proclaimed that lions should be the last to get their share, as they could go days without water. The law was put into effect, and the animals survived. But one day, a selfish and lazy lion came to the water hole and drank more than his fill. Many animals stood in the distance, waiting for him to finish. But when one approached him, asking if she could get a drink, the lion lunged at her and scared off the remaining animals. When Mohatu heard the news, he was outraged. He asked himself how they could survive if one of his own kind couldn't cooperate. As the drought worsened and the remaining water grew smaller, Mohatu called the animals to Pride Rock and told them that he would be going on a long journey to find a solution to their problems.
The king set out on the journey and walked long and far. Finally, he reached a lush jungle, which appears to be the same oasis where Timon and Pumbaa made their home many years later. After getting a drink from the river, Mohatu laid down in the shade for a brief rest. But as he was napping, he heard the sound of someone crying. Curious, he went in for a better look. Upon reaching the river, he saw a massive crocodile sitting in the water, crying. Mohatu asked him what was wrong, and the crocodile swam to the bank. Mohatu saw just how enormous and powerful he really was, and if he hadn't been the brave king that he was, he would have been terrified.
The crocodile told Mohatu that "he was a kind lion to ask." He then went on to explain that he was lonely, for he scared everyone away from the water hole. Mohatu asked if he'd ever given the animals a reason to fear him, and the crocodile admitted that he had once snapped at Hippo's tail. Mohatu told him that it was no wonder they were afraid and that he needed to earn their trust again. The crocodile asked how he could do that if no one came to the river. Mohatu told him that he would take care of it and then introduced himself as the king of the Pride Lands. After leaving the river, Mohatu ran into Hippo. He asked Hippo why he wasn't in the river, and the hippopotamus admitted that she was scared of Crocodile. Mohatu then bumped into a wildebeest and asked him the same question. The wildebeest told him that in order to get to the river, he must pass by Hippo, who he was afraid of. Mohatu then spoke to a zebra, who told him that he hid among the wildebeests, in constant fear of lions. If the wildebeest wouldn't go to the river, then neither would the zebras.
After hearing many accounts from the animals, Mohatu thought to himself that these animals had the same problem as his own animals: they didn't trust each other. Figuring out a solution to the problem, he journeyed home. Upon reaching the Pride Lands, the animals gathered around him and asked him what he had found out. The king told the animals that he had found a "Great River" from which they could drink. The animals cheered and asked where it was. Mohatu told them that it was a long way away from their home and that in order to survive, they needed to cooperate with one another. No animal was to harm another during the journey.
A zebra spoke up, reminding the king that the last law didn't prevail and that it had been one of Mohatu's own kind who had broken it. He proclaimed that he didn't trust the selfish lion and would not go without the protection of the wildebeests. The wildebeests refused to go in fear of the hippos who lived in the river. A hippopotamus stormed up to them and proclaimed that it was the crocodiles who were to be feared. As Mohatu tried to explain about Crocodile, the animals got into a huge uproar, and Mohatu was forced to roar for silence. Zebra spoke again, telling Mohatu that it was every animal for himself. Whoever got there first, got as much water as they liked. Without another word, he galloped away. The animals immediately took off after Zebra, and it was such a sight that Mohatu would never forget it. The battle to the water hole was fierce, but Zebra finally won the competition. After reaching the water hole, he began to drink from the lush water, but then he realized that he was steadily sinking into quicksand. The other animals tried to help him but to no avail.
At the last moment, Mohatu caught up to them, carrying Cheetah on his back, who had fallen in the rush to the water hole. The animals begged him to help Zebra, but Mohatu could do nothing, as Zebra was too deep in the quicksand. Mohatu then got an idea and called to the crocodile who lived in the Great River. To everyone's surprise, a very big and mean-looking crocodile approached the bank, asking the king what he wanted. Mohatu explained to the crocodile that Zebra was sinking and was in need of help. Crocodile swam closer to examine the situation and proclaimed that he knew how to help Zebra. Climbing onto the bank, he got a firm grip on the ground and gave Zebra his tail. Zebra took hold of it, and Crocodile pulled him to shore.
Zebra thanked Crocodile profusely, and Crocodile proudly accepted his thanks. But as Zebra was about to walk away, Mohatu reminded him that he owed Cheetah an apology for kicking him on the way to the water hole. He added that he should also make sure that Cheetah got home safely. Zebra apologized, and Cheetah accepted his apology. The Pride Landers then drank their fill from the river. When they were done, they wished Crocodile a fond farewell. From that day forward, the animals of the Pride Lands journeyed to the jungle oasis to get their share of water. But when a great rain came and the Pride Lands became lush and green again, the animals no longer needed to return to the Great River.
But Mohatu never forgot the friends he had made there. He would occasionally visit Crocodile, where he would see hippos, zebras, and wildebeests at the river's shores. Mohatu ruled for a very long time, perhaps the longest of any king, and grew very old. But one winter's eve, he died. All his subjects wept for the loss of their king. Many felt lost without him, and fighting arose among them again. But just as all hope was lost, a star appeared in the sky, bigger and brighter than the rest. The animals grew peaceful and felt the same way they had when Crocodile had first let them drink from the Great River. They knew it was the spirit of their king, who was still watching over them from the stars.
After the story is complete, Simba tells his father that he wishes Mohatu could still be with them. Mufasa explains to his son that Mohatu still is with them, at least in spirit. He is there to remind them to love and respect each other, no matter their differences. Mufasa then proclaims that it is time to go to bed. As they're leaving, Simba says goodnight to his great-grandfather's star and tells him that he wants to grow up to be just like him. Mufasa smiles proudly at his son, and they file down Pride Rock.
In answer to his son's question about why lions rule the Pride Lands, Simba explains that it's always been this way, as his many ancestors, including Mohatu, ruled before him.
Mohatu is a stockily built lion with reddish-brown fur of a lighter shade. His underbelly is paler in color, as are his muzzle, eyeshades, and paws. His mane is darker brown and notably curly. His tail and elbow tufts are also dark brown, a trait typically seen in Outsiders. Overall, he is very similar to Mufasa in appearance.
|“||Mohatu: I have found a Great River from which we can all drink.|
Various animals: Where is it? Where is it?
Mohatu: It is many miles away, across the plains, over the mountains, and through the forest. In order for us all to get there safely, we must have cooperation from everybody. As we travel, no one may harm any other animal. That is the only way we'll survive this difficult drought.
Mohatu is well known for being a wise king. He harbors a deep affection and loyalty toward his subjects, which is most prominent when he willingly leaves his homeland in search of a new water source for the Pride Lands. He is a peacemaker but can also be firm in his decisions and orders. Many animals look up to him for his bravery and strength but will occasionally overlook him because of his peaceful nature. He is ultimately selfless and a sacrificial king. He is said to be faithful and trustworthy, and he is loyal when his pride is in its time of need.
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