The Hare that Saved the Bushbuck from the Lion

Here is a story:

There was a Lion that lived together with all of the other animals in the bush. The Lion said: What can I do so we all agree on my plan for a work assignment? The Lion decided in his heart, and said to himself: I will make them hate each other. They all see each other as enemies And thus they will think I love them and I will do no harm to them. He gave all of the animals a task of killing the other animals, saying: Duiker antelope, I want you to go over there. The Duiker did as he was told. When he killed the animal, he called everyone and said: Go and eat, and the animals ate it. Then he said to himself: Well, now I have made them used to eating animal meat. So he himself began to hunt animals he liked to eat and he would then eat them by himself. Soon he finished all kinds of animals.

Soon, the only animals which remained alive were the Hare and the Bushbuck antelope. When the Hare saw the Bushbuck, the Hare said to him: Bushbuck, where do you live? The Bushbuck answered him: That is where I live, in the bush. The Hare said: All of the different kinds of animals are gone because of the Lion. Where are you from then? When you meet a Lion, do you think he will leave you in peace? Oh no, he will not let you go. You must be very cautious and use all of your abilities to hide yourself because he is very dangerous, just I have said: ‘he has just finished all the animals’. So, if he finds us here where we are talking, even on this spot, you are in big trouble. I can loose him because I run here and there and can hide myself, but he will come and catch you because you are not too quick. The Bushbuck antelope thought to himself: What can I do then? I have to beg this Hare so he can advise me on how to save my life. The Antelope then said: Master, may I have a word with you? The Hare replied: Go ahead. The Antelope said: What can I do to hide from the Lion? The Hare replied: If you want to save your life, go in the deep growth along the river and stay there. If you begin to live there, I will talk to the Lion and tell him not to go there.

The Bushbuck was happy and decided to go and live in the deep growth by the river. When the Antelope left the Hare’s home, the Lion arrived and asked: Who were you talking to a minute ago? The Hare replied: Nobody. I was talking to myself because my children don’t listen to me. I told one of them to go to the river and bring some water, but he refused. I sent the other one to go and get some wood but he refused as well. Therefore, as you can see, I was bitterly complaining. I said: ‘One day I will give these small ones a real trashing. The Lion said: Will you? The Hare said: Oh yes. So he did not pay any attention to it. But the Lion said again: I have hunted down almost all of the animals of the bush, but still I am feeling very hungry. I have eaten all the animals except for the Bushbuck antelope and I do not know how it tastes. The Hare said: You haven’t eaten a Bushbuck yet? He replied: No! So he said: Master, as you haven’t eaten the Bushbuck yet, wait, I will go and get the Bushbuck so you can meet him. And they did not talk about it anymore.

The following day the Bushbuck came before the Lion. The Hare said to the Bushbuck: Bushbuck, listen to what I have planned to do. I will bury you underground so only your horns are left showing. When I finish burying you under the dirt, the animal that wants to eat you will show up, I will grab you by the horns and yell. If you get up at the time when the Lion comes, he will eat you. Therefore, you must not get up and run away, no matter how strong I shake your horns. If you try to run away, he will get you. You have to be brave. Then the Hare went off to do what he had planned. The Hare dug and dug, and covered the Bushbuck up as if he was covered by a rug. Having finished the work, the Hare sat down.

That is when the Lion showed up. The Lion said: Good morning. The Hare replied: Yes, sir. Then the Lion said: You Hare, where is the animal I told you to call for me so I can eat it? The Hare said: The animal? The Lion replied: Yes. The Hare said: Allow me to call the Bushbuck and it will come. The Hare caught the Bushbuck antelope by the horns and began to yell: Bushbuck, Bushbuck, Bushbuck, Bushbuck, where have you hidden yourself Bushbuck? Bushbuck! The Hare was yelling terribly and then said to the Lion: You have to try it too. Grab these horns as I did and yell and shake the horns in the same way I did.

The Lion grabbed the horns and began to yell: Bushbuck! Bushbuck! Bushbuck! The Hare was helping him in this and said: Where is the animal with which I was talking to yesterday? Where is it hiding today? The Hare said this to help the Lion. The Lion became very tired from yelling and at that point the Hare said: You must try harder to shake the horns. The Lion continued to pull on the horns of the antelope and spent all of his energy. When the Lion was completely worn out, the Bushbuck antelope jumped out of the hole in which it was buried and began to run away. Since the Lion had lost all of his strength, he only watched the antelope run away. He simply had no strength to chase and catch it. And, that is how the Antelope was saved.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: he who listens to experienced elders avoids blunders and will grow old. The one who asks does not go wrong and there will always be somebody who will help him. It is wise to consult those who know your case (problem, work, etc.) from experience. The other thing: we Christians, whenever we are in trouble, following the example of the Bushbuck, we must seek the advice of Jesus Christ in order to know what to do to be saved. The Bushbuck is a representation of us people, while the Lion is Satan who is always trying to eat us. The Hare represents Jesus Christ who saves us from Satan to this day.

The Mambwe proverbs say: He who despises the advice of older people (or who contradicts an elder), will never grow old (Akakana amazwi ya akalamba, asikota); Whoever contradicts an elder will never grow old (Akakanya umukulu, asyakota (orasikota); Who contradicts an elder, will never grow old (Lukanya-yakulu asikota); A bearded mouth does not deceive (Akanwa ka cilezu, kasisomba); The one who travels with his mouth never gets lost (Akapita na kanwa, asiponga); Who asks does not get poisoned by mushrooms (Kuuzya, atakoliku wowa); Go and ask the madman to show you the remedy they used to cure him (Kuzye ilyapenyile, likulangu mulembo uno yalilwazizizye kweneko).

Subjects: advice – avoiding mistakes – experience – wisdom – salvation – Jesus Christ – Satan – enemy


Told by Makrina Mpande from Vimbuli village (recorded). Cf. in second version 16 (How the Hare Saved the Bushbuck from the Lion) written by unknown author.