The Hyena, the Hare, and the Cow

Gloria Kirk - Senegal


March 18, 2017

I have been collecting folktales as a part of my community project. Most of my stories have come from Fellow, Thea’s host dad who is the village chief of Yendane. I record the stories in Laalaa, write down and understand with my host dad, then translate word for word in English. I rewrote this tale in more of story way. You can listen to the recording of Boo’ Babago telling this story in Laalaa at the end of the post.

Here we have the Hyena and the Hare. The Hare turned to the Hyena and said “Come, on let’s go to the Pulaars land, and see if we can get one of their cows. I have an idea and it’s brilliant.” Hyena sighed and followed Hare to the Pulaars. Once there, Hyena and Hare sat in the cover of tall grass watching the cows.

“So, this plan of yours? I’m ready to eat.” Hyena said, his eyes never leaving the cows.

“Right, so, when the cow poops, we are going to jump inside his butt. Now, you get in first and cut his heart, he will die and be ours to eat. We will clean him up and put the meat in our small bags.” Said Hare as he waited for the perfect moment to set his plan in action.

“Now!” Hyena did not hesitate and ran straight to cow. Once inside, he went right to the heart and cut it, just as Hare said.

“Nicely done, now you get into the intestines, and I will get in the bladder.” Hare called out as he was already on his way to the bladder.

Hyena did not question Hare. Hare’s plan has worked perfectly thus far, and although Hyena did not know why he was going to get inside some cow intestines, what could it hurt? At that moment the sounds of humans could be heard. The Pulaars had come.

“Oh no! Look at our cow!” exclaimed a man.

“What has killed it and left it so?” Puzzled the other man. The men sighed at the loss of a member of their herd. They quickly got to work on skinning the cow. They took out the bladder and tossed it off to the side, it does not have any use to these men.

“Hey! You just splashed me! What do you have to say for yourselves!” Exclaimed Hare as he jumped up from the bushes, the bladder laying at his feet.

The Pulaars, having no idea that Hare had just been in the bladder and that they had chucked him off to the side, apologized profusely.

“I accept your apologies. Say, what has happened to your cow?” Hare said as he shook himself off, trying to tidy up a bit.

“We have no idea. We’ve never seen anything like it before, have you?” asked a Pulaar.

“Hmm, maybe. Why don’t you cut open the intestines, could be something there.”

The Pulaars open up the intestines, and out pops Hyena. The men were so shocked, the immediately start beating Hyena, no questions asked, for it’s obvious what happened. The men beat Hyena until they say he his dead and then go back to the task of skinning their cow. Hare waits until the men are engrossed in their work before he runs to Hyena. He drops to his knees next to Hyena’s head.

“Whatever am I going to do without my beloved friend? Who is going to accompany me on all my adventures now? Why did this have to happen, and to Hyena, of all animals?” Hare was grieving for his friend, he even had tears in his eyes.

“They explode my head, only then will I die.” Croaked Hyena trying to reassure his friend that he wasn’t dead just yet.

“Oh Pulaars! Come here! Hyena here just told me that you must explode his head before he is dead.” Hare called out to the men, who had immediately stopped their work and went over to him.

They exploded Hyena’s head and this time he died.

The Hare tricked the Hyena.

There are so many mysteries in this tale. Why did Hare trick Hyena, did he gain anything from it? Why does a hare even want a dead cow, aren’t they herbivores? And do I really need to ask about the whole jumping inside a cow thing?

I asked around to see what others thought the moral of this story is. My dad said it’s a story of greed, Hyena was too greedy and did not think for himself. My aunt simply said “Hyena is stupid.” And the others seemed really confused by the question. The tale has so many questions that are left unanswered, but that’s part of it’s charm. My dad laughed so much as he was helping me write down the story. While Boo’ Babago was telling the story, he had his family smiling, and I’ve heard one of my cousins tell her version of this tale and had her sisters giggling. This tale doesn’t need morals or motives, it’s here for the pure amusement and enjoyment of it.

Listen to the story in LaaLaa here:

 

Gloria Kirk