A Large Crowd of Animals

Here is a story:

There once was a large group of animals in the bush living together. When they went hunting, they left one of each animal behind, always saying: Stay and protect our relish. When they returned home, they found all of their relish which was in a pot was gone but for a little bit of sauce on the bottom and no one knew what had happened. They were asking themselves: How are we going to find out which of us, which of all us animals, ate our relish? They tried to leave the Elephant, the Bushbuck, and nothing came of it. They all tried guarding the relish and they all found the same thing happened.

One day the Tortoise said: Maybe you’ll let me try. All of the animals agreed. So the Tortoise stayed behind. First of all the Tortoise made a small three-legged stool, and carved it in such a way that he could enter in it. Then he drilled a hole right in the centre of it and placed it in front of the fire where the relish was cooked, then he hid under the stool.

When he heard footsteps, he saw the Hare, the trickster, who walked up to the door and asked: You over there, may I come in?, andheard it was silent: Today there is nobody I have to beat, there is silence. No problem, I can eat then. He walked in and sat on the stool and began to eat the relish. The Tortoise stuck his hand out through the hole that he had made and caught the Hare, the trickster, by the tail. Then the Hare said: I think I’ll go now, he got up and along came the stool with him. He said: Stool, let me go! The Tortoise replied: Be calm, the elders will be back soon. When the animals returned, they discovered the Hare, the trickster, was the one responsible for stealing the relish and the Tortoise was the one who had caught him. They all said: Let’s punish him! They said: Let’s hand him over to the Elephant who is strong and can smash him over a rock. Other animals began to say: Let the Elephant smash him over the sand! So the Elephant went and smashed the Hare over the sand but this did not kill the Hare. The Hare stood up and ran away.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: (1)elders can also learn or benefit from the sayings of children; (2) a thief will be caught and punished sooner or later; only the person who is caught in the act can be convicted of robbery, however, many may be stealing.

The Mambwe proverbs say: (1)Brains (intelligence) came out of a small anthill (nacisoswa) and entered a large anthill (cilenga)(Amano yakafumu muli nacisoswa, yaya umu cilenga;Amano yakafumu mwisoswa, yayu mu cilenga; Ilango likafuma mwisoswa, liyu mu cilenga; (2) The thief is the one who is caught (Impupu, iyalemwa); The thief is the one who is caught red-handed (Mupupu, apikasa).

Subjects: elders – children – evidence – red-handed thieving – punishment


Written by Kleto Kaputu, 30th August 1994.