Once there was a boy who did not understand math. His teacher tried teaching him subtraction, but the boy would not understand. So, the teacher explained with an example.
“If I have five sheep,” she asked, “and one of them leaves, how many sheep are left?”
The boy answers, “no sheep will be left.”
The teacher lost her temper and shouted, “How could there be no sheep left?”
The boy answered while crying “I know the sheep’s character! If one goes, all will follow!”
This joke is told to children to teach them about the followers in society and distinguish them from the leaders.
My informant was born and raised in Ethiopia. He heard this joke from his father. He recalls that this joke was his first exposure to the concept that people can exhibit characteristics of sheep. My informant likes this joke because he comes across many people in his line of work that remind him of this joke.
This joke is incredibly relevant today, even in the United States. There is much talk of a group of people being “sheep” because they follow the lead of certain celebrities or politicians. This kind of rhetoric is popular because it can apply to both sides of a political spectrum. Two opponents can both claim that the other is a “sheep” for merely believing something different. I also found it interesting that a message such as this was communicated using a classroom setting with children. This suggests that even young children are astute enough to recognize when someone is a sheep, and that it does not take a genius to do so.