Resource 5: Kalulu story

Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils

This is a traditional story from Eastern Province.

Once upon a time, there was a terrible drought over all the country. No rain had fallen for many months, and the animals were likely to die of thirst. All the pools and watercourses were dried up. So the lion called the beasts together to the dry bed of a river, and suggested that they should all stamp on the sand and see whether they could not bring out some water. The elephant began, and stamped his hardest, but produced no result, except a choking cloud of dust. Then the rhinoceros tried, with no better success; then the buffalo; then the rest in turn – still nothing but dust, dust! At the beginning of the proceedings the elephant had sent to call Kalulu, the hare, but he said, ‘I don't want to come.’

Now there was no one left but the tortoise, whom they all had overlooked on account of his insignificance. He came forward and began to stamp; the onlookers laughed and jeered. But, behold, before long there appeared a damp spot in the river-bed. And the rhinoceros, enraged that a little thing like that should succeed where he had failed, tossed him up and dashed him against a rock, so that his shell was broken into a hundred pieces. While he sat, picking up the fragments and painfully sticking them together, the rhinoceros went on stamping, but the damp sand quickly disappeared, and clouds of dust rose, as before. The others repeated their vain efforts, till at last the elephant said, ‘Let the tortoise come and try.’ Before he had been at work more than a few minutes the water gushed out and filled the well, which had gradually been excavated by their combined efforts.

The animals then passed a unanimous resolution that the hare, who had refused to share in the work, should not be allowed to take any of the water. Knowing his character, they assumed that he would try to do so, and agreed to take turns in keeping watch over the well.

The hyena took the first watch and, after an hour or two, saw the hare coming along with two calabashes, one empty and one full of honey. He called out a greeting to the hyena, who answered, and asked him what he was doing there. The hyena replied, ‘I am guarding the well because of you, that you may not drink water here.’ ‘Oh,’ said the hare, ‘I don't want any of your water; it is muddy and bitter. I have much nicer water here.’ The hyena, his curiosity roused, asked to taste the wonderful water, and Kalulu handed him a stalk of grass which he had dipped in the honey. ‘Oh, indeed, it is sweet! Just let me have some more!’

I can't do that unless you let me tie you up to the tree; this water is strong enough to knock you over if you are not tied.’ The hyena had so great a longing for the sweet drink that he readily consented; the hare tied him up so tightly that he could not move, went on to the well, and filled his calabash; then he jumped in, splashed about to his heart's content, and finally departed laughing.

In the morning, the animals came and found the hyena tied to the tree. ‘Why, Hyena, who has done this to you?’ ‘A great host of strong men came in the middle of the night, seized me, and tied me up.’ The lion said, ‘No such thing! Of course it was the hare, all by himself.’ The lion took his turn at watching that night; but, strange to say, he fell a victim to the same trick. Unable to resist the lure of the honey, he was ignominiously tied to the tree.

There they found him next morning, and the hyena, true to his currish nature, sneered: ‘So it was many men who tied you up, Lion?’ The lion replied, with quiet dignity: ‘You need not talk; he would be too much for any of us.’

The elephant then volunteered to keep watch, but with no better success; then the rest of the animals, each in his turn, only to be defeated by one trick or another.

At last the tortoise came forward, saying, ‘I am going to catch that one who is in the, habit of binding people!’ The others began to jeer: ‘Nonsense! Seeing how he has outwitted us, the elders, what can you do – a little one like you? ‘ But the elephant took his part, and said that he should be allowed to try.

That night, the tortoise plunged into the well, and sat quite still at the bottom. When the hare came along and saw no one guarding the well, he sat down beside it, ate his honey, filled both his calabashes and went to bathe. But as he stepped into the water, he found his feet caught. The tortoise had tied the hare’s feet together, so he couldn’t run away!

The tortoise called the other animals, and they carried him off to the lion for judgement. The lion told the hare that in the future, he would only be allowed water if he had helped collect it. The hare apologized to all the animals, and offered to share his honey as a gesture of goodwill.

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