How the Hare Saved the Duiker Antelope from the Lion

Here is a story:

Many animals lived together and they built a great village. The village was run by the king Lion. The Lion would wander around the bush and cut down poles for the building of homes. Having cut them, he would return. At the same time, the Duiker antelope went on its way, saying: I feel such a craving for something delicious. I will set some traps and maybe I will kill some cane rats or any kind of rats. The Duiker took some rope, went to the riverside growth and set traps in many different places. Having set the traps, he returned home. He would return to check the trap a few days later.

The Lion went on its way saying: I have to check if I can find some bundles of twigs I may use to build a home, so he went into the thickets. The growth was very thick and there the Duiker set a spring snare. The Lion discovered a little trail was made and followed it. He said to himself: Now I can begin my work. When the Lion put his hand in the hole of a spring trap, the rope caught him by the hand and pulled him up and swayed him in the air. Then, the rope went down and hit the ground with a bang, and then again hit the ground with a bang at another place, then again with another great bang. The Lion yelled: I am dying! He did not know who set the trap nor did he think more about it. He touched the ground with his foot but could not go anywhere as he was hung from the rope.

A few days later, in the morning, the Duiker got up and said to himself: Let me go and check my traps. So he went to the places where he set the traps. He found some little animals: rats, mice, and a dwarf mongoose. Then he said: I will go and see my spring trap which I set there, andhe found “his majesty” hanging from the rope. The Duiker asked: What happened to you? The Lion said: Something unfortunate, I have been here a week. It was true because some days had passed since he was caught and he could not eat anything. The Lion said to the Duiker: You man, you made this trap, now please let me go! The Duiker said: Oh gosh! If I let you go, will you eat me? The Lion said: Please, I am here so long, just look at me! The Duiker said: You are very thin, but if you are so thin and if I let you go, you will eat me, won’t you? The Lion said: I will not eat you, just let me go. The Duiker heard how the Lion was begging so he said to himself: He begs so much so let me release him. The Duiker went to the rope, pulled it. Then he unfastened it slightly and freed the Lion. The Lion said: You have done a good thing: now sit down so that you may rest!

The Lion said to the Duiker: Have a rest, because he wanted to regain his strength. Because he always enjoyed eating meat, he could not help not thinking about eating the Duiker. The Duiker was very fat so the Lion thought: If I eat him, I will be fat again and my body will be like before. Finally, the Lion said to the Duiker: You Duiker, let me eat your tail which you have at your back. Maybe if I eat it, I will feel better. The Duiker said: If I tear out my tail, where will it all end? You will pull the tail with bowels and maybe you pull as well my back, so surely I will die! The Lion said: Well I am very hungry! So at least I have to eat something even if it is small! The Duiker said: You could go in the growth and there you will find something to eat soon. The Lion said: I don’t have the strength to hunt for animals. The Lion stood up and went around the Duiker in order to bite off the Duiker’s tail but the Duiker wiggled and began to run away. How they were running! The Lion was eventually just trotting slowly and the Duiker ran hopping away, saying: This misfortune, which I brought upon myself, is why they say: ‘A kind disposition ate the francolin.’

The Duiker ran until he reached the place where the two Bushbuck antelopes were grazing, male and female. The Duiker said: While you are standing here, the Lion is chasing me! So listen carefully. The others said: It can’t be! The Lion was just approaching at the time. The Duiker said: Listen to what I did … Then the Bushbucks said: If we get involved in judging your case, the Lion will kill us. They added: Give the ‘owner’ his tail, so he can eat it. The Duiker said: You didn’t judge correctly this case. The Duiker began to run away again for a long time and finally reached the home of the Wild Pigs and thought: They are big, they can help me. As he approached, they asked him: You Duiker, why have you stopped here? At the very moment he wanted to rest there, the Lion came. What is this all about? The Lion started to go around the Duiker as he wanted to take the Duiker’s tail and eat it and thus have his first meal. So they stopped the Duiker and asked: What is going on? The Duiker explained to them what had happened. The Wild Pigs said to themselves: This person is not someone to play around with, he can kill us. They said to the Duiker: Give the ‘owner’ his tail! The Duiker said: This is unbelievable! The Duiker then ran away very fast.

He was running very fast and very far and finally reached the Roan Antelope’s home. The Duiker said: Whatever happens, I will be saved, these are big animals. You great Roan Antelope, listen to what has happened where I came from. The Roan Antelope saw the Lion, so they asked: Sir, is it not the one we are trying to judge his case? Is it not him? So my friend, give the ‘owner’ his tail so he can eat.

When the Duiker ran out of ideas and was already feeling tired, he reached the home of the Hare with the rest of his strength. The Hare said: What is it? First sit and rest. When the Duiker said: Listen, listen … then he answered: Just sit here! So he sat. But there was the Lion and he was coming. He began to circle the Duiker in order to eat its tail. Then the Hare said: Your Majesty, calm down. You are a grown man. Let us look at the case. The Lion was not calmed down completely, nor was he at ease. He was still hungry and this was why he was going around the Duiker hoping to get its tail. Finally, the Hare said: To get things right, first of all, let me tell you Duiker, in our way of life it is a good thing to revere one’s king. What you did brings you great shame. Let all of us go to the bush and see exactly what happened since then up to the moment you arrived here. The Duiker said: I will go last. The Hare said: Oh no, you must go first because who will find the place? Hearing that, the Lion said: I will follow the Duiker. The Hare said: You, my friend, cannot go one after another; I will be in the middle and you will go last. The Lion thought to himself: I will eat the Hare’s tail, but he found that the Hare’s tail was too small. Anyway, it was not the one he was after.

They were going for a long time. The Duiker began to shake with fear and thought: If they are both against me, I will die. As they approached the thickets where the trap was set, the Hare asked the Duiker: Is this the trap you set? The Duiker said: That is the trap. The Hare asked: How did you put the trap up so the King got caught in it? The Duiker said: I did it this way. When the Duiker was showing how to reset the trap and dug a hole so the trap was well set, the Hare said: Is this a trap that some one could get caught in? The Duiker said: I do not know what he did! Maybe he did not see it. TheHare said to the Lion: You old man, what did you do to get caught in the trap? The Lion said: I came from this side and I was walking along slowly. Then I saw the trail and I followed it. Not expecting anything, I reached this place, and then was trapped. The Hare asked: So tell me how you were caught! Did you just arrive there and you were trapped? What did you do? The Lion said: When I was on my way, I suddenly put my leg in the hole … When the Lion put his leg in the trap, the trap closed and he began to yell: Help me, help me, I beg you help me, I am going to die! The Hare said: You are not a friend who could live with other people because you are too cruel. The Lion was left there crying and soon died there. The Duiker and the Hare were saved. This is why even now it can be seen that the Duiker and the Hare run together.

This is also a lesson for us all: we should be grateful to those who show us kindness. Also: a cruel person cannot live together with other people and sooner or later will be severely punished for his cruelty. The other teaching: people like the company of those who help them.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: the story says that we should love the ones who have shown us mercy. Also it reminds us that ungratefulness causes people to cease favouring or helping. A person can bring down misfortune upon himself by being ungrateful to a person who has pardoned him. One should not make somebody angry by ridiculing his good points, but when harmed, a person has the right to take revenge. One good turn deserves another. The other thing is: a person who is cruel to others should not live together with others and sooner or later will be punished for his lack of mercy. This story reminds us also that the people who help each other stay together like Duiker and Hare. Also it shows that the poor have very little chance to win a case against the rich.

The Mambwe proverbs say: The ungrateful fellow who caused the garden to remain fallow (Kantawala, uwalaliki calo); In former times the leopard did not bite (attack) man: it was man who showed him how to do it (Nangu itali ya kuluma muntu, umuntu uwailanjilile); A small arm follows its companion (Akakasa kakakonka, akauze); A small dried gourd rind follows its companion (Akatowa kakakonka, akauze);(An animal) steps (walks) where (another animal) stepped (walked)(Ikalyata, muno yalyasile).

Subjects: cruelty – ingratitude – friendship – helping each other – misfortune – ungratefulness – punishment – inevitability – ridiculing – provoking to revenge


Told by Bernard Kungula from Kapufi village (recorded).