|Bukusu Folktales (Kenya Literature Bureau, 1986, 134 p.)|
While hare and elephant were on their way to visit some friends Hare said to Elephant, It is indeed surprising, Brother Elephant to see that although we have almost arrived at our destination we have not as yet decided between ourselves as to who will be the guest of honour at the reception which our hosts are going to give us this evening. I suggest that by virtue of your stature you should pose as a guest of honour while I pose as an ordinary visitor. How do you like that idea, Brother Elephant?
Not bad, said Elephant, But I say, Brother Hare, Elephant continued, what would be the most suitable name for the guest of honour in the circumstances? Hare said, Simple, King is the noblest title that corresponds with your elevated status. But I will content myself with the less enviable title of visitor. Elephant laughed heartily and said, Oh, how wise you are, Brother hare! You seem to know your own status so well. That is very considerate of you, indeed.
Having agreed on titles, Hare returned to protocol, Brother Elephant, he said, remember we must try to behave well before our hosts. Under all circumstances we should at least pretend to be good friends, no envy, no malice, and no quarrels; just sweet smiles and kind words all the time. And again, when things are offered to visitors I will be responsible for receiving them. But as for those things which are offered to the king the responsibility will fall on you. Elephant waved his hand approvingly, saying, No problem!
So the two friends, King-Elephant and Visitor Hare walked the rest of their journey with anticipation. On arrival they were received warmly. The host brought two good chairs and gestured them to sit down, Please visitors, be seated. Hare smiled and turned to Elephant saying: Did you hear that? These are my chairs, the king should wait for his own patiently. Which means simply that you can in the meantime sit on the floor.
So Elephant sat on the floor while Hare sat on the chairs. When snacks were being served one of the waiters told the other, Please serve the visitors quickly they must be feeling hungry now. Hare meaningly winked to Elephant, Keep off, my friend, you must wait for your turn. It looked as if everything was earmarked for Visitor. After sunset, a waiter came round to announce that the evening meal was ready for the visitors to consume. Hare shook with laughter. Today is today my friend he said between fits of laughter. But Elephant, who no longer wanted to conceal - his suspicion motioned Hare for a helping. Hare defended his usurped position by saying, Brother Elephant, that is out of bounds. Do not get mixed up over little things; remember you are a very important person. I would hate to see you degrading yourself like that.
Thus, Elephant kept away from every meal that was served. He felt so hungry at night that when people were sleeping he yawned continuously and his peculiar way of yawning created a big disturbance to everybody, for whenever he yawned he trumpeted so loudly that houses shook from their foundations. It was indeed a deafening noise. Hare fell out with Elephant over this question of yawning, and so decided to keep away from him by going to sleep outside in the open air. On the following morning when Hare and Elephant were preparing to leave for home many gifts were brought for them to carry away. Each time a gift was presented someone would say, Visitors, this is all I am able to offer you, And, consequently Hare claimed everything for himself. However, there was one person who when presenting cows, simply said, Here are some animals which you may wish to keep.
On their way home elephant turned to Hare and said, We must share these cows equally for when presenting them to us our hosts did not specifically allude to either of us. Hare was not in the least prepared to share the animals with Elephant, so he began to think of ways in which he could keep all of them for himself. Brother Elephant, he said, we will drive these animals in turns. Now is your turn. After going a short distance Hare took his turn. He drove the cows so fast that they got wild and scattered into the bush. He got hold of the tail of each cow he came across and cut it, planting the tails into the earth, and leaving only whisks exposed on the surface. He then ran about, crying and shouting for help: Hee..eelp, hee..e..ee..l..p! Thieves are running away with our cows, please heelp! Brother Elephant, come and help me to recover the cows. Thieves are driving the cows under the ground, please hurry. On hearing the frantic cries. Elephant joined the race straightaway, Where are they? Brother Hare, where are the thieves so that I may thrust them? Where are the cows? Hare pointed at the whisks and said Don't you see that thieves are dragging them under the ground? Please get hold of the tails and pull out the cows before it is too late. Whilst saying so Hare had a go at one tail, pretending that it was very difficult pulling out the cow. Elephant came and seized the tail and pulled it with all his might; as the tail came out so easily, he flung backwards hitting the ground, Boomm! The futile pursuit went on and on, until all the tails were uprooted from the ground. Hare gave a deep sigh and said, Brother Elephant, that is too bad; now all our cows have been taken away by the thieves. I am not going to share your company again. You go your way while I go mine! As they parted company Hare ran to the bush very fast and drove away all the tailless cows to his home and they became his property.