The Children of the Lion and the Children of the Monkey

Here is a story:

There was a Lion that lived together with his wife and children. Near by, the Monkey lived together with his wife and his children. They all lived together in harmony. When the mothers of the children went to work, the Lion cubs would go to the Monkey’s children and say: Let’s go out to the playground and wrestle. The one that falls down will become our food and we will eat him.

Before the parents went off to work they would always warn their children: There is no playing with anybody. Just watch the food that is cooking.

One day, the Lion cubs went off again to the Monkey’s children and said: Let’s go out to the playground and wrestle. The one that we wrestle to the ground will become our food. There were three Monkey children and three Lion children too. They chose the youngest Lion cub and the youngest Monkey child and said: Begin wrestling. So the two began to wrestle. After a short time, the Lion cub was thrown on the ground. The Lion cub denied it saying: You did not throw me down. The next Lion cub denied it also.

Finally, it was the turn of the oldest ones: the Monkey Child and the Lion cub. Again the Lion cub was thrown down and denied it saying: I only tripped. I was not thrown down. The Monkey child said: What do I have to do to get you to agree? The Lion cub said: Let’s go again. After a short time the Lion cub was thrown down again and his arm was broken with a crash.

The children of the Monkey ran back to the village and they found that their mother had arrived and told her everything which had happened. The mother scolded her children and said: Where are we going to go if the Lion’s mother hears about this? The mother of the Monkeys said: Let us run away, anywhere, before she finds out. Just as they ran away, the Lions arrived at the house. They followed the tracks of the Monkeys and where they led. In the meantime, the Monkeys arrived at the Hippopotamus’s home and said to him: Save us. The Hippopotamus said to them: All you can do is flee. They ran on further and arrived at the Hyena’s home. When they were at the Hyena’s home, the Lion cubs and their mother arrived at the Hippopotamus’ place and they asked: Have you seen the Monkeys running fast? He said: They just left. They ran forward, encouraging each other by saying: They went that way!

The Monkeys asked the Hyena: May we hide here? She said: You may hide in that hole. So they hid themselves there. The Lions arrived and asked: Have you seen the Monkeys that passed by here? The Hyena asked: Why are you chasing them so quickly? And she added: They went that way just now, and she pointed at the place they were hiding. The Lions ran in the direction she was pointing while the Monkeys watched what the Hyena was doing. The Lions passed by without seeing them, because the Monkeys were well hidden.

The Hyena then said to the Monkeys: You may come out now because the Lions are gone. The Monkeys said: What can we do to repay you? The Hyena said to the Monkeys: Come and help me cultivate my fields. The Monkey mother refused and said: Didn’t you show them where we were? If they had understood what you meant, they would have killed us all and my children too? The Hyena had no response and said: Go away. It is over. You have no respect for me. The Monkey’s children said to the Hyena’s children: You are not good. The Monkeys went to the village but the Lions wandered aimlessly.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: (1) it is good to tell the truth, because nothing good ever comes from telling lies. A liar who does not want to admit his mistakes sooner or later will be sorry for his arrogance and pride; (2) gentleness, kindness and courtesy render us immune to harm from others. Hatred brings misfortune. Provoking fights endangers our lives.

The Mambwe proverbs say: (1) A lie always comes back (Ufi, ukawela). English equivalent: Truth and sweet oil always come to the top; Truth is the daughter of Time; Early or late, truth will out.

Subjects: fights – dangers – hatred – misfortune – kindness – safety – lies – punishment – mistakes – admittance – truth – solution to problems


Written by Frederick Katao Silwamba, Cikunta 4th of April 1984. Cf. in second version of a folk-tale (second version 12) The Lion and the Cow written by Joseph Kafunda; also a folk-tale (second version 13) The Cow and the Lion: Friendship and Hate, written by unknown author.