The Wisdom and Fraud That Killed the Monkey

Here is a story:

There lived a Monkey and a Lizard. The Monkey and the Lizard were very good friends; they spent a lot of time together.

The Monkey and the Lizard shared a dwelling but for some time now the Monkey had been cheating the Lizard. When the Monkey caught something to eat, it would always eat alone, never sharing it with the Lizard. On the other hand, the Lizard always shared even the smallest amount with his friend. Things went on like this for about three months.

One day, the Monkey caught a Partridge and in order to eat the Partridge with some mush, took a piece of the wing to the Lizard and said: My friend, look what I have found and it is just what I have got. His companion knew what true love for a companion was but did not bother much about it and said: Of course it is O.K., because we always share, don’t we?

In the evening, later that day, the Lizard said: I think I will go and visit my friend because at this time of year the day doesn’t come too quickly (a type of proverb). When the Lizard arrived at the Monkey’s private dwelling, he discovered that the Monkey had begun eating. He had cooked the mush and taken all of the relish. The Lizard asked: Dear friend, how can you receive guests if you did not inform them? He asked this, even though he was convinced the companion could not find a wing only, not having found all of it. The Lizard was very distraught indeed! The Monkey jumped in immediately to defend himself: My friend, dear friend…, the Monkey said, consumed by guilt. [You know lying to a friend was not all that easy of a thing to do.] So the Monkey said: I was just about to come to you and take you. Look at all of this mush, could I eat it alone, and when it’s cooled a little, I will come and get you. The Lizard replied: What about that relish? Where did it come from? The Monkey couldn’t think of a thing to say. So the Monkey said: My friend, I will tell you tomorrow. Now, let’s eat. Since his companion, knowing what friendship was, decided it best to sit down and eat the food, but in the back of his mind he would not forget the affair with the relish.

Early the next day, since he was ashamed, the Monkey was nowhere to be found. That evening the Lizard went hunting and killed the Antelope Duiker. Immediately, he went to ask his companion to help him carry it as he was unable to carry it home alone. Seeing what his companion had done, the Monkey felt even more guilty. When they arrived home, they went to work skinning and preparing the animal. After having done that, they ate together and the Lizard did not mention anything to his friends about deceit.

A few days later the Monkey, as if nothing had ever happened, killed a small antelope-like animal, Katili, and didn’t share it with the Lizard. The next day the Monkey killed a big Rat, of which the Lizard saw no part. Then the Monkey killed a rusty-spotted Genet, Mutolo of which the Lizard got nothing.

One day, the Monkey came across a small Turtle Dove which had wandered into a hunter’s trap. As the Monkey said: I think I’ll take you home for dinner, a black Mamba, Ngosye (one of the most dangerous snakes known to exist), slithered up close to the Monkey. He was terrified.The Snake Ngosye asked the Monkey: What is going to happen? The Monkey said: O.K. my friend we can share it, as it is you who found it. The merciless Snake refused to agree to that and said: Well, you have a friend. It is so small that you can’t share it. Take it for yourself, my friend!. I will eat something else. Then the Snake said: I should be careful not to spoil your friendship which you share with your companion. Take it and don’t be concerned. So my friends, when the Monkey arrived home with the little thing, he devoured it by himself and he did not say anything to his companion.

The next day, the Lizard met the Snake and after some heartfelt greetings from both, the Snake said: So, my friend, did you eat well yesterday? The Lizard replied: Dear friend, these days I haven’t eaten anything. The Snake looked at the Lizard in wonder and said: But, yesterday, your friend, the Monkey, caught a Turtle Dove. The Lizard, refusing to believe it, said: Impossible. The Lizard refused to believe it and told him off, saying: He would never eat without sharing with me. The Snake Ngosye tried to explain to him and said: He is often killing this and that. His companion refused to believe. They didn’t talk about it any more. The Lizard disregarded what the Snake said. He said: I know the character of a snake and he is just trying to set us at variance.

A few days later the Monkey caught himself a Lemur. The Snake Ngosye met him again and said: Since this Lemur is not all that small, maybe you can give me just a leg, friend? He gave him a leg and he did not think about it again. The Snake Ngosye thanked him. To convince him that he was not lying to the Lizard, the Snake Ngosye brought the Lizard the leg which the Monkey had given him. Everything was now in order to prevent the Monkey from saying lies again.

The Lizard replied: Very well, I will convince myself right now.In the evening they cooked mush and the Monkey cheated again. When the Snake arrived, he was startled to find the Monkey and the Lizard eating spinach cooked by the Lizard. The Snake asked: Where did the spinach come from? The Monkey said: Let us eat some liver. The Snake said: Friend, this a sad situation indeed. The Monkey, (realising what was happening), began to shake and quiver from fear and the Snake was possessed by a rage that caused the Snake’s heart to shake. Then the Snake jumped up and bit the Monkey. That was the last of the Monkey. The Lizard didn’t know what to think of all of this. The deceptive behaviour and his false love led to the Monkey’s end.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: a man should not pretend to be cleverer than others if he does not want to be despised by them. Also one should not try to cheat one’s companions, or they may turn against him and there will be nobody to help him.

The Mambwe proverbs say: Anyone who wants to be cleverer than his companion is stupid (Ukucenjela kumwi icili cimwi nu kutumpa); You who cheated the hunter, what are you going to eat tomorrow? (Kakonda muzazi, nga mutondo ulalya cani?)

Subjects: cheating – punishment – friendship – honesty – over-wise – despise


Written by Stanislaus Sinyangwe, 07th of September 1994.