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13 6 The Hare and the Village Chief A village chief had a grape tree1 . No one was allowed to eat its fruit, but the hare decided to try everything he could. So he went to see the chief and told him that a strong, dangerous wind was coming. ‘‘There is nothing that the wind cannot blow away, except for trees,’’ he told him. When he heard this, the chief told the hare to tie him to his grape tree so that the wind could not blow him away. No sooner said than done. The hare attached the chief firmly to his grape tree. Once the chief was tied up, the hare used him as a ladder so he could climb into the tree. When he was up there, he ate the fruit; he ate until he was full. Then, he invited all the other animals to come and eat some, telling them that the chief had given the order that day to eat the fruit of his tree. All those who came used the chief as a ladder to climb up. After eating their fill, they used him again to climb down, and off they went. Meanwhile, the chief happened to notice some termites that were crawling by. He begged them to save him. He told them of his misfortune. The termites agreed to come chew the rope, and they delivered him. Very satisfied, the chief told the termites to come to the palace the following day. He promised them that he would have the animals killed and would cook them up for the termites. 1. Lannea microcarpa (Anacardiaceae). This tree has bunches of purplish-black ellipsoidal drupes. Its fruit is edible and very much appreciated. 14 Alain-Joseph Sissao (Translated from the French by Nina Tanti) While the chief was speaking to the termites, the hare, hidden in a bush, heard everything. The next day, the hare got all dressed up, hid his large ears, and went to the chief’s for the feast. No one recognized him. He was shown into the house where he was served a hearty meal. He ate his fill. But as he ate, he didn’t throw away the bones. He hid them in his bag. When he had finished eating, he lay down to rest. He fell asleep and a glimpse was seen of one of his long ears. He was discovered. The chief was informed that it was the hare who was there, and not a termite. The noise woke the hare. Realizing that he had been unmasked, he jumped outside and began to run. The dogs were sent after him. But when they drew near, he threw them the bones which he had saved in his bag. They abandoned their chase and went back for the bones. The hare went off. He covered himself with mud and stopped under a tree. A dog noticed him and asked: ‘‘Is that Mba-Walga, the antelope?’’ The hare said: ‘‘Yes!’’ The dog asked him if by any chance he had seen the hare. He told him that as a matter of fact that was him over there, causing all that dust to rise in the distance. The dog took up his chase once more and the hare returned safely home. ...


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