Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/71

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


Some Notes on East African Folklore. 6i

travels together, the first episode of which is given in Velten's Prosa und Poesie der Suahelz.^ The Hyaena eats up all the meat which was cooking for both, and the Hare by a trick induces the villagers to beat him. This dissolves the partnership, but, some time later, they are once more reconciled, and, in a time of famine, agree to eat their mothers. The Hyaena's mother is eaten — the Hare breaks faith and conceals his. (This incident occurs, in innumerable variants, all over Bantu Africa and the Sudan.) Mwenyi Ombwe wound up the tale — giving it a certain artistic completeness — with an incident new to me : the Hare disguises himself " like a Kamba " (the Akamba,now the principal manufacturers of the fine iron and copper chains so popular among all the Wanyika, usually wear a profusion of these ornaments), and comes to the Hyaena, loaded with bead-work and glittering metal. The Hyaena fails to recognize him, and is consumed with admiration and envy — whereupon the Hare informs him that he can go just as fine, if he pleases, on condition of submitting to a small test of endurance, and allowing a nail to be driven into his head. He swallows the bait greedily — and that is the end of Brer Hyaena.

One night, when camping at Fundisa, I heard an old Swahili woman relating to my porters what I recognized as a Rabai story, of which I possess a copy, written out by James Mkoba, a teacher at the C.M.S. Mission.'* The baboons, tired of getting a precarious living by stealing maize in people's gardens, whereby, as they said, " we may get enough to eat one day, and the next be driven off into the woods with our hunger," hit on the plan of disguising one of their number by the simple process of cutting off his tail, and sending him to settle in a village, build a house and take a human wife. " You can then," they said, " cultivate

^ P. 51. There is a variant in Biittner : Kisa cha Sungura ha Cheche (p. 95).

  • See also Velten, op. cii. p. 71 ("Geschichte vom Sultanssohn welcher ein

Afifenkind heiratete.") This is, however, a somewhat different story.