The Rooster that Saved the Cow

Here is a story:

A Cow befriended a Lioness. Sometimes they would play together and sometimes they would stay by themselves. After some time, the Cow and Lioness became pregnant. During the pregnancy both of them were still close friends.

An old proverb says: The days do not go by the same way for everyone. The Cow finally reached its birth date and had a small bull. The Lioness looked after the Cow as long as the bull was still growing up.

A short while later, the Lioness gave birth to a Lion cub – but only to one. The Cow looked out for the Lioness the same way the Lioness had looked after her.

The children of the two grew and became very smart. When the mothers went to work or to the bush in search of food, the two children would play together. One day, the Cow found the two playing together and told her child off: What I see is very bad. If you two play together and the cub breaks his leg, we will have to flee somewhere just to stay alive. The young bull did not listen to his mother and continued to play with the cub. (The old proverb says:) He who disregards his parent’s advice will bring dirt home.

One day, the Bull was playing with the cub and broke the cub’s leg, but luckily the Mother Cow felt something in her heart and came back very quickly. She arrived at the village and found the two of them crying. When one was crying, the other was crying too. The Mother Cow discovered what had occurred and the only thing in her mind was to escape, so they ran away immediately. How they were running blindly!

At the beginning, the mother Cow and child met many African guinea fowls and they told them about the problem of the Lion cub’s broken leg. The Guinea Fowls replied: If it is the Lion you are fleeing from, maybe there is something we can do to help you, sit here and rest. The Cow understood what was said and began to relax and started grazing.

Soon the Lioness began to approach. The Guinea Fowls said to themselves: Who can fight with a Lion? My friend, mother Cow, go away from here! The Lion is cruel. Hearing that, the Cow started to complain bitterly. The Mother Cow and her child ran away without thinking until they stumbled upon the house of the Rooster. The Rooster had a bow and arrows. Seeing the Mother Cow running very fast, the Rooster asked her: My friend, what are you running from so quickly? The Mother Cow replied: My friend, the Lioness is after us, and she wants to get us and eat us. The Rooster said: Very well, sit here and rest. I will show you something which will shock you.

Shortly after, the Lioness began to approach the place where the Mother Cow and the Rooster were. When the Lioness finally arrived, the Rooster had hid the Mother Cow and her child well. The Lioness asked: Have you seen a Cow and a child here, my friend? The Rooster replied to the Lioness: No, I didn’t see them. But myself, I have two Cows here; a child and her mother. The Lioness burst out: Maybe that’s them! The Rooster replied: Those are my cows. The Rooster got very angry and said to the Lioness: I don’t like that! For this reason I killed a Lion yesterday. He took out a skin from water and said to the Lioness: Look at that! There was a male Lion who wanted to catch these Cows and he frightened them greatly. When I saw him, I took my bow and arrow, shot him and he was killed instantly. Seeing another Lion’s skin, the Lioness began to shake with fear. Watching that, the Rooster’s comb was becoming very red the Lioness thought: He will not forgive me! So the Lion ran away and left the Rooster. Afterwards, the Rooster said to the Cow and her child: From now on the two of you belong to me. I will be your shepherd.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: the right of ownership is sacred. Violence cannot prevail against it. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Playing bad tricks on one’s friends destroys their trust and friendship. Choose your friends carefully and you will avoid quarrels, fights and you will not expose yourself to witchcraft. People should love each other. Only the owner can be trusted to truly care about his charge. Hired help cannot always be relied upon. In the New Testament Christ contrasts shepherds with the owner of sheep and says of Himself that He is the Good Shepherd.

The Mambwe proverbs say: Show yam to a monkey, then show him melon (Kolwe umulangu mungu, ngu wiz’umulangu lutanga); Give yam to a monkey, then give him melon (Upele kolwe umungu, apa cisila umupelu lutanga); If you give a pumpkin to a monkey, can you give it a melon tomorrow? (Ndi wapela kolwe umungu, uzye mutondo ungamupel’ulutanga alye?); A thing cannot be forced from the hands of its owner (Kasilwilwa, na mweneco); We ate with the bee-keepers (at my death all of them will abandon me)(Twalya, na yanteka mizinga); We ate with a demon (Twalya, ni nkomi). English equivalent: A friend in need is a friend indeed; Choose thy friends like thy books, few but choice; It is good to have friends but bad to need them.

Subjects: fights – quarrel – witchcraft – friendship – helping in need – hired worker – owner – Jesus Christ – Good Shepherd – ownership – sacredness – prudence – quarrelling


Written by Edward Mwimbe, 07th of September 1994.