The Jackal, the Hare and the Thieving Lion

Here is a story:

There once was a Lion and the Lion married a wife from a far away village. One day, the Lion took the Jackal to help him bring a leather bag for blankets because he needed the blankets as he wanted to go and find some work at his in-laws.

One day, the Lion and the Jackal went to work. On his way back, the Lion caught a Bushbuck antelope and gave it to the Jackal. The Jackal then carried it and gave it to the elder and the elder passed it along to the Lion’s in-laws. This made them very happy.

When dusk came, the Lion went into the sheep’s encampment and caught one of the sheep. He ate it and then took the insides and hung them around the Jackal’s neck when it was immersed in deep sleep. Early in the morning, the sheep’s owner followed the tracks all the way to the Jackal’s resting-place They got the Jackal and killed it because they found the goat’s intestines around its neck.

The next time the Lion took a sheep and tried to frame the Hare the same way he framed the Jackal, but the Hare knew what the Lion had done because Hares are clever animals. This is what happened: in the evening the Lion went to catch a goat and the Hare caught a firefly and put it in his eyes. The Lion came with the goat’s insides and said: Now I will put this on the Hare. At that moment the firefly flashed and blinked, making the Lion think the Hare was still awake; therefore the Lion was unable to tie the goat’s insides around the Hare’s neck.

In the morning the Hare heard people yelling: The goat has been eaten, so people started looking for it. The Hare said: Let’s go and look for the one who stole the goat. The Lion who remained with the goat’s insides in his house was caught and killed. The Hare stayed alive and married the Lion’s wife. The Mambwe people have a saying: Sometimes being too clever makes one stupid.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: sooner or later the truth is known, even though you lie far away from your home, the lie will be known in your village. Sooner or later the mischief-maker will come to grief and a sly man turns bad. A clever person cannot be clever in every respect. A person who was lucky once and was not punished after committing some mischief won’t escape the second time. The rich or important people should remember that they will not escape punishment for their unjust treatment of others. God himself will reveal their injustice and will punish them for it.

The Mambwe proverbs say: A lie always comes back (Ufi ukawela); The wily rabbit does not get out of two burning places ‘scot-free’ (Kalulu, asipusuki mipya iili); Intelligence makes a fool of itself (Amano, yakatumfya); You corpse, you are smart, but the undertakers have more authority than you (Cala wacenjela, azisi yakulusile); Anyone who wants to be cleverer than his companion is stupid (Ukucenjela apa yacenjele yauzo, ukutumpa). English equivalent: Truth and sweet oil always come to the top; Truth is the daughter of Time; Early or late, truth will out.

Subjects: God – justice – injustice – rich people – punishment – inevitability – truth – reveal


Written by William Nyondanyonda, 07th of September 1994.