The Hare is the Most Important Animal of All

Here is a story:

There was once a Lizard Buzzard, a Lion, an Elephant, a Hare, a Crow and a Zebra who all lived together in one village. Each of them had a wife, and in every household there was one child. Each one of them had a problem with their clothes. Seeing that the clothing problems were not going away while meeting at their open-rest hut, they decided to go to Tanganyika to find work.

Since there is always some reason to pick an argument, there they came up with the idea of appointing someone to be hailed as the most important. The test of who is the most important was based on who could make their voice heard the furthest from the place they were. For that reason there was great competition, as even the Hare considered himself as the most important.

In order to end the argument, they made an agreement: We have to make our wives do one thing; if they do not listen to our request, then we know that the husband is not the one to lead us. Everyone agreed and the request was (for their wives) to make beer. They said: He who has beer waiting at his house is the most important.

The next day, in the morning, they all washed their clothes and made themselves ready. When it was dark, each one spoke to his wife. The rain said to his wife: When you hear: Ngululu, ngululu, ngululu, ngululu, go and put the finger millet in the water as it means we are about to be back. And each animal said the same to his wife: If I make a sound for the first time you must soak the finger millet.The Hare then said: Woman, when you hear the sound of the rain ngululu, ngululu, ngululu, ngululu, for the first time, you have to immediately soak the finger millet. Then when you hear it a second time, we have started our journey so you must pour hot water over the malt so it begins to ferment. Unfortunately, the rain forgot to say anything about the second time.

The next day, early in the morning, everyone left Northern Rhodesia (modern day Zambia) and went to Tanganyika. When they got there, they noticed it was a very diverse land. They all looked for work, and they all found it without much difficulty and began work. All of them began to save for the village and they bought things like fabric for clothing and many other miscellaneous items.

When the workdays were over, the rainstorm made his wife aware of what had to be done. Each animal started to make a sound like rain. The Buzzard flew high and began to yell out koo koo, but his wife heard nothing. Then the Elephant, but his wife did not hear it either. The Hare said cilye -lye –lye, and his wife threw the finger millet into the water; she did like the wife of rain, because he had forewarned her to soak the grain when she heard the rain beginning. All of the other animals said: My wife heard my words. But it was not so.

The day of their trip, it was raining very heavily, but no one understood the signal except for the Hare’s wife. The Hare’s wife poured hot water over the malt so it started to ferment, but she told no one what she was up to. The Hare’s wife made everything ready, until the beer was ready.

Early that evening, the wives sat at the open rest-hut and passed their time arguing about something. When they looked at the road, they saw their husbands coming back home in single file. When they got home, they only found the germinated finger millet, except for the Hare. Each one was flabbergasted, but not the Hare. The wives received them well but they found only germinated finger millet, no beer.

After a short while, they heard a call from the Hare’s home, saying: Come in here and rest; the beer is ready. All the animals, including the birds came there and were very surprised, so they said: The Hare has defeated us all, really he is the most important. So many agreed to this appointment and since then all of them rejoiced and recognised him as the most important person among them.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: we have to begin on time, without delay, in order to benefit from work. When faced with a difficult task begin early.

The Mambwe proverbs says: The early bird catches the worm; An early start is half the battle’.

difficulties – timely commencement
foreseeing – wisdom
preparation – success

Written by Edward Mwimbe, 07th of September 1994.