The Leopard and the Rabbit
(TraditionalSukuma,Tanzania Folktale told by Sukuma Research Committee)
Once upon a time the Leopard lived in a small house far way in the bush. After thinking for a long time he decided to look for a better place. After a short time he found a suitable place nearer the other animals. The Leopard began to cut sticks for building a house. After collecting a big bundle he carried it to the new building site. While the Leopard was doing all these things the Rabbit was nearby watching. He also cut a bundle of sticks and put them near the Leopard's bundle. But the Rabbit did not tell the Leopard.
The next day the Leopard brought another bundle. He was surprised to find a second bundle already there, but didn't know who had brought it. However he put down his own second bundle. Meanwhile the Rabbit was hiding and watching the Leopard's work. Then the Rabbit cut a second bundle and brought it to the site, making a total of four. The Leopard continued to bring bundles of sticks and the Rabbit did likewise.
When the Leopard saw that the sticks for building were enough, he began digging the foundation for his house. When he got tired he went away. The Rabbit also came and dug the foundation for the second wall and put in poles. He got tired and went to sleep.
Day after day the Leopard and the Rabbit were building the same house without meeting or talking together. Soon the house was finished, the first side having been built by the Leopard and the second side having been built by the Rabbit.
The Rabbit was the first to move into the side of the house he had built. Then the Leopard moved into his side. Then the problems began. The Rabbit lit a fire on his side of the house and the Leopard on his side. The Leopard was surprised to see a fire lit in his house without his knowledge. He shouted, "Who is that mad person lighting a fire in my house?" Then the Leopard and the Rabbit began to quarrel without solving the problem.
The Rabbit thought of a way to make the Leopard leave the house to him. He told his wife to pinch the children to make them cry loudly. When the children began to cry the rabbit asked his wife in an angry voice: "Why are the children crying?" Mrs. Rabbit answered, "They are crying for the Elephant's liver." The Rabbit answered boastfully in a loud voice so the Leopard and his wife could hear. "Tell them to stop crying. Finding an Elephant's liver is no problem for me. Tomorrow I will kill an Elephant and give its liver to my children." When the Leopard heard these words he became terrified. He thought that the Rabbit was a very dangerous person. If he could kill an Elephant for sure he could kill him also.
After a few days another quarrel erupted between the Leopard and the Rabbit. Then the Rabbit thought of another way to terrify the Leopard and drive him away. Again he told his wife to pinch the children to make them cry loudly. When the children began to cry, the rabbit asked his wife in an angry voice: "Why are the children crying?" Mrs. Rabbit answered, "They are crying for the Leopard's liver." Meanwhile the Leopard and his wife were listening very carefully to this conversation. The Rabbit answered boastfully in a loud voice so the Leopard and his wife could hear. "Tell them to stop crying. Finding a Leopard's liver is no problem for me. There is a Leopard right here in this house with us. I will kill him easily and give his liver to my children. I don't want my children to be deprived of anything."
The Leopard was terrified and told his wife: "Dear, we must move away from here immediately. Otherwise we will all be killed by the Rabbit." Early the next morning before the Rabbit family got up, the Leopards moved out. On the road they met the Baboon who asked, "Why are you sweating so much and in such a big hurry this early in the morning? Why are you carrying all your belongings? Where are you going?" The Leopard replied, "We are running away from the Rabbit who plans to kill us and feed us to his children. I have been thrown out by the Rabbit from the house I built with my own hands." The Baboon answered: "Oh, I know the Rabbit. That's one of his tricks. Let me take you back to your house. But we must tie our tails in order to go together."
So the Leopard and the Baboon tied their tails together and went to where the Rabbit was. When he saw them the Rabbit began to rebuke them. He told his wife to pinch the children to make them cry loudly. Then the Rabbit asked his wife in a voice that could be heard by everyone: "Dear, why are the children crying?" Mrs. Rabbit answered, "They are crying for the Leopard's liver." The Rabbit said in a loud voice, "I planned with the Baboon that he would bring the Leopard here and so he has. Keep calm, my children. You are going to get the Leopard's liver right now."
When the Leopard heard this he became very angry and began to insult the Baboon saying, "Is this your plan, Mr. Baboon? You deceived me. Do you want me to be killed by the Rabbit?" He became terrified and tried to run away. But since his tail was tied to the Baboon's he could not. They ran in opposite directions and their tails were badly bruised. In this way the Rabbit took over the whole house.