Kamba - Fables and Legends

Hyena and Jackal

A traditional Kamba story, told in Mwikali Kieti and Peter Coughlin's excellent book "Barking, You'll be Eaten! The Wisdom of Kamba Oral Literature"
(1990: Phoenix Publishers Ltd., PO Box 18650 Nairobi). See the copyright notice for textual extracts.

Hyena and Jackal, collected by Mwikali Kieti and Peter Coughlin

Long ago, Jackal and Hyena were great friends. Once, they met to ascertain who ate better food. Hyena brought rumpled, dry skins that Jackal could not eat. Jackal said, "let's go. I'll show you what I eat. No wonder you're so thin. You eat skins!"

Jackal took Hyena to a tree with a beehive in it. Jackal climbed up, lowered the beehive, and, after descending, told Hyena, "If a bee stings you, don't yell, 'uuuiil!' Somebody might chase us away."

Hyena tasted the sweet honey and began gorging himself. Soon stung, he yelped, "Uuuiii!"
   "Shut up!" Jackal admonished. But promptly, Hyena forgot, started gobbling honey, and got stung again.
   Irked, Jackal decided they must leave to avoid being caught. Being thirsty, they went to a well. Before drinking, Hyena asked, "How can one keep this sweet taste in one's body always?"
   "You ask someone to plug your asshole with wood."
   Hyena wanted that, so Jackal did it. After drinking, Hyena could not stand, he was so full. He just lay by the well. Jackal left.

Early next morning, a woman with a gourd came to fetch water where Hyena lay. "Ah! The Ndune clan's he-goat!" She untied and discarded her gourd. Using the rope, she tied Hyena up and carried him home. There, she sent her child to bring her husband to slaughter this goat. Meanwhile, she tied one end of the rope to her leg and the other to Hyena's neck.
   Before her husband came, her other children crowded around examining Hyena closely. Seeing wood in Hyena's anus, a child asked, "Why is this wood here, mama?"
   "Just leave my goat alone."
   But one child furtively edged the wood out. A blast of diarrhea knocked it down. Relieved, Hyena ran out of the house, yanking the woman along. Thinking their mother was chasing the he-goat, the children cheered, "Mama ru-u-u-un! You're faster! Mama ru-u-u-un! You're faster!"
   But she fell and, dragged along knocking against stones, trees, grit, trash,... was ripped to shreds because of her stupidity.

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