How the Hare and the Jackal Stole from the Field

Here is a story:

There was a man that had a giant field where he harvested many different kinds of food. When the different things he planted began to sprout and then began to ripen, one day it happened there were two animals there: the Hare and the Jackal. Both had begun to eat the harvest from the field. When the farmer went to his field, he said: Oh dear me! What can I do about this? He did not know what to do. He returned to the village and told his wife: Listen, listen …! I went there and the food we are harvesting will soon be gone. I found two different tracks, a Hare’s and a Jackal’s. He began to sculpt a figure resembling a human being. He was sculpting and sculpting and to embellish it, he added breasts. Finally, everything looked perfect. Then he started once again and put some glue on the statue and placed it in the middle of the field. The people used to say: Where the rooster finds termites is the same place where he lost his tail.

Early next morning, the Jackal and the Hare went to the field. The Hare said: How lovely! Look, my friend: they brought us a girl. It’s wonderful! At that point they forgot about eating in the field because they were only thinking about the thing which looked like a human being. They went up to look at her more closely and they said: Excuse me, miss, how are you? They looked at her but they heard nothing. They said: You don’t want to speak to us, do you? The Hare said: Let’s shake hands. And immediately the Jackal said: O.K. Hello girl. Good morning! He touched her and got stuck and he said: Is this a sign that you love me? He put his second hand on her and got stuck, so he said: Oh boy! Don’t you see how much this girl loves me? The Hare, standing to one side and, watching, said nothing.At this point the Jackal’s entire body was stuck – including his legs were stuck. The Jackal said: I will touch you with my head, then his head got stuck and he began to wriggle. The Hare said: Stop it! Love can remain but leave him alone and let us go! No answer. The Hare said to himself: Let me try! So he went and greeted the girl: How are you? – his hand also got stuck. All of his body was stuck too. Then they heard some voices close to the field. Some people were coming and they were talking. The Hare and Jackal said to each other: My friend we will die. This is the field owner. As the people were coming, the Hare and the Jackal tried to get loose, but they failed to release themselves and be saved because they were caught in a terrible way.

The owner of the field said: Well well! Look, my son, they are the ones who tried to eat away our food. So this is a stroke of luck! The Hare, hearing these words, tried to fake dead from fear. When he did this, flies flew into his mouth. The Jackal only bent his head down. When they arrived, the father took the axe butt and hit the big Jackal and said: This is a guzzler. The man took the axe butt and hit him to check if the Jackal was able to move. Then he said: So it is still alive! The man hit him again and threw him on the ground. The Jackal was killed instantly and he threw it away. Then the father said: We eat Hare. So what will we do? Go and take it! I will stay to fix the statue because they are not the last; tomorrow the others will be caught. So you take this Hare. When you get home, singe and disembowel it. Then you cook him, leave the liver for me to eat at the doorway so before entering the house I can taste something of the one who troubled me so much. The child put the Hare in his bag.

The boy did not go very far when the Hare wriggled in the bag and made a noise: fuku fuku, and he said at once: What did your father tell you? The boy said: My father told me: when you get home, take this animal and skin it. Then when you cook it, take the liver and put it at the doorway. The Hare said: You don’t know what you are talking about and what’s more I can give you a kick. Your father said: ‘When you get home, grab the big rooster and kill it for your grandfather so he can eat it. Then, take the liver and put it at the doorway so he can come and eat.’ Didn’t he say that you are to leave the liver out at the doorway? The boy said: Yes, he wants to find the liver waiting for him when he comes home from work. The Hare said: But at this time, I have already eaten the rooster. Then he added: You have to be attentive when your elders speak.The boy said: So I was wrong, Sir. And so they went. The Hare asked again: Do you remember what your father told you? The boy said: Yes Sir, I remember what you have told me.

When they arrived at the house, the boy went to his mother and told her: Mother we have a guest, grandfather. Father said: ‘When you get home, kill the big rooster which is crowing before dawn. Kill him because it has been a long time since we last saw our grandfather. When you cook him, give him to grandfather.’ And as to the liver, leave it out at the doorway so when father arrives, he can find it there. The mother said: You said the truth, this is my father-in-law. Didn’t we see each other before? O.K. take your grandfather there. The boy took the “grandfather”, rolled out a mat in the veranda of the house, and there the Hare sat. The food was being prepared. When it was cooked and the mush prepared, the boy and the Hare sat together and ate. The Hare ate a lot of mush and finished the whole rooster (but the liver). They put the liver at the doorway.

Then the father came home and called the child by his name. The child said: Yes Sir, I am here. The father asked: Is everything prepared as I told you to do it? The boy said: Yes Sir, everything is ready. This is the liver. The father went to the doorway and said: Is this the liver of a Hare? The boy said: Didn’t you say: leave the liver at the doorway? The father tasted and answered: This is not the one. This is a chicken liver! The child said: This is what you said: when you get home, kill this rooster for grandfather. The father said: Oh God, you killed the rooster I liked? Where is grandfather now? The Hare heard the man had arrived and thought to himself: What can I do to save myself? He went and took a big rock and put it on the mat. Then, he took a piece of cloth and covered it. He sat on the place close to the road to see what would happen next. The father took a big axe and started to sharpen it. It become very sharp. Then he said straight away: I will kill him. I will cut him in half!

When he went into the house, he said to himself: He is sleeping. And in man’s manner he made a high swing and gave a stroke. The axe was bent and sparks flew. At once the man yelled: You think you are so clever, do you? I will kill you, I will outsmart you! Then the man noticed the Hare was nearby. They ran after each other and there was a noise: tiki tiki, tiki tiki. The Hare hid himself in the termite hill by entering a hole. The father said to his son: Bring the hoe! Bring the hoe! Bring the hoe, this is what I want. This Hare will die there. The boy brought the hoe and they began to dig. The Hare came out the other side of the hole, took off his skin and was completely naked. Then he said to the man: Sir! What are you doing here? The man said: There is an animal which has gone into this termite hill and it has ears like yours. Then the Hare said: Sir! Allow me to dig for you. The old man leaned forward and said to himself: Let me see how he is digging the hole. The Hare thought to himself: If I fail to kill him, I will die. The Hare took the hoe and hit the man on the head with a thrashing sound. The Hare returned to his hole and ran away for good.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: each crime will be punished sooner or later. The other thing: Only the person who is caught in the act can be convicted of robbery, however many may be stealing. People should not commit any crime, because God sees everything.

The Mambwe proverbs say: A thief only has forty days and then he will be caught (Amanda ya mupupu yaya makumi yani, ndi yasila ala ulalemwa); The end of baldness is the nape of the neck (i.e. it does not stop half-way)(Uwito w’ipala, inkonto); The thief is the one who is caught (Impupu, iyalemwa); The thief is the one who is caught red-handed (Mupupu, apikasa).

Subjects: evidence – red-handed – God – justice – punishment – inevitability


Told by Bernard Kungula from Kapufi village (recorded). Cf. in second version a folk-tale (second version 18) The Hare, the Jackal and the Lumberjack, written by Justin Sicinsambwe and also a folk-tale (second version 19) The Hare and the Jackal that Eat Groundnuts, written by an unknown author.