A Nigerian Folktale

A Nigerian Folktale

One of our fourth graders, Avy, was inspired by our traditional literature unit! She would like to share this Nigerian folktale that she partially rewrote!* Enjoy!

How a Hunter obtained Money from his Friends the Leopard, Goat, Bush Cat, and Rooster, and How He Got Out of Repaying Them 

Many years ago, there was a hunter called Effiong, who lived in the bush, he killed plenty of animals, and made much money. Everyone in the country knew who he was, one of his best friends was a man called Okun, who lived near him. Effiong spent much money in eating and drinking with every one (he was extravagant), at last he became quite poor, so he had to go out hunting but now good luck seemed to have lost him, even though he worked hard, and hunted day and night, he could not succeed in killing anything. One day, as he got very hungry, he went to his friend Okun and borrowed two hundred rods from him, and told him to come to his house on a certain day to get his money, and he told him to bring his gun along with him. 

   Now, some time before this, Effiong had made friends with a leopard and a bush cat, which he had met in the forest while he was hunting and he had also made friends with a goat and a rooster at a farm where he had stayed for the night. But though Effiong had borrowed the money from Okun, he could not think how he was to repay it on the day he had promised. At last,  he thought of a plan, and on the next day he went to his friend the leopard, and asked him to lend him two hundred rods, promising to return the amount to him on the same day as he had promised to pay Okun and he also told the leopard, that if he were absent when he came for his money, he could kill anything he saw in the house and eat it. The leopard was then to wait until the hunter arrived, when he would pay him the money and to this the leopard agreed. The hunter then went to his friend the goat and borrowed two hundred rods from him in the same way. Effiong also went to his friends the bush cat and the rooster and borrowed two hundred rods from each of them and told them the same thing he told the others.

 When the day he told his friends to come arrived, the hunter spread some corn on the ground, and then went away and left the house. Very early in the morning, the rooster woke up remembered what the hunter had told him, he walked over to the hunter’s house, but found no one there. On looking round, he saw some corn on the ground, and being very hungry, he decided to eat the corn. Soon the bush cat also arrived, when he did not find the hunter at home, he espied the rooster, who was busy picking up the grains of corn. So, the bush cat went up very softly behind and pounced on the rooster and killed him at once and began to eat him. By this time the goat came for his money but not finding his friend, he walked about until he came upon the bush cat, who was  upon his meal of rooster, that he did not notice the goat approaching and the goat, being in rather a bad temper at not getting his money, at once charged at the bush cat and knocked him over, butting him with his horns.

This the bush cat did not like at all, so, as he was not big enough to fight the goat, he picked up the remains of the rooster and ran off with it to the bush, and so lost his money, as he did not await the arrival of the hunter. The goat was thus left master of the situation and started bleating, and the leopard heard this noise, who was on his way to receive payment from the hunter. As he got nearer the smell of goat became very strong, and being hungry, for he had not eaten anything for some time, he approached the goat very carefully. Not seeing anyone about he stalked the goat and got nearer and nearer, until he was within springing distance. The goat, in the meantime, was grazing quietly, quite unsuspicious of any danger, as he was in his friend the hunter’s compound. Now and then he would say Ba!! But most of the time he was busy eating the young grass and picking up the leaves which had fallen from a tree of which he was very fond. was very fond. Suddenly the leopard jumped on the goat, and with one crunch at the neck brought him down. The goat was dead almost at once, and the leopard started on his meal. 

It was now about eight o’clock in the morning, and Okun, the hunter’s friend, had not eaten his early morning meal, so he went out with his gun to receive payment of the two hundred rods he had lent to the hunter. When he got close to the house, he heard a crunching sound, and being a hunter himself, he approached very carefully, and looking over the fence he saw the leopard only a few yards away eating the goat. He took careful aim at the leopard and fired, immediately the leopard rolled over dead.

The death of the leopard meant that four of the hunter’s creditors were now disposed of, as the bush cat had killed the rooster, the goat had driven the bush cat away (who has forfeited his claim), and then the goat had been killed by the leopard, who had just been shot by Okun. This meant a saving of eight hundred rods to Effiong but he was not happy with this, when he heard the report of the gun he ran out from where he had been hiding all the time, and found the leopard lying dead with Okun standing over it. Then angrily Effiong began to shout at his friend, and asked him why he had killed his old friend the leopard, that nothing would satisfy him but that he should report the whole matter to the king, who would deal with him as he thought fit.

    When Effiong said this Okun got scared and begged
him not to say anything about the matter to the king because he would
be angry. But the hunter refused to listen to him, and at last
Okun said, “If you will allow the whole thing to drop and will say no
more about it, I will make you a present of the two hundred rods you
borrowed from me.” This was what Effiong wanted, but still he did
not say yes at once. Eventually, he agreed and told Okun he might go,
and that he would bury the body of his friend the leopard.
 

 When Okun had gone, instead of burying the body Effiong dragged it inside the house and skinned it carefully. The skin he put out to dry in the sun, and covered it with wood ash, and the ate the body. When the skin was well cured the hunter took it to a far market where no one knew it was the leopard’s skin, he sold it for much money. And now, whenever a bush cat sees a rooster, he always kills it, now he takes the rooster as a part payment of the two hundred rods which the hunter never paid him.

Moral. —Never lend money to people who can’t repay you.

**Original retelling by Elphinstone Dayrell

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