How the hare became a king by Edith Dyton (Singano village, Malawi)

There was a big village where all animals lived in. The elephant was the king there. In that village the tortoise had grown different kinds of crops on its field. For this reason, some animals became jealous. They agreed to go and destroy these crops. They indeed went there and destroyed the crops. This brought sadness and anger to the tortoise. As small as it is, it did not have the strength to fight with these bad animals. Instead it went to a witchdoctor to seek for help. The hare was the witchdoctor. “How may i help you tortoise?” asked the hare. The tortoise sadly explained what the bad animals did to its crops. “So what do you want me to do with these envious animals?” asked again the hare. “But you can see what to do with them,” replied the tortoise.  The hare did its charm and declared; “There shall be drought this year!” Tortoise agreed that there should be no water that year.

A year passed without rain. All sources of water dried out. The animals did not know where to get water. The king of the village, the elephant called for a meeting. All the animals gathered except the hare and tortoise. They discussed about ways to get water. They also discussed what they should do to the tortoise for it is the one that caused the drought. One small animal rose and suggested to go and apologise to the tortoise. However this was opposed by the big animals. “No! We would rather stay without water than apologizing to that small animal.” argued the elephant, rhino and lion. Soon the king rose and said: “You should all follow me to a spot, there we will have to dig the ground with our feet until the water comes out.” They all followed the elephant. They reached that spot and started to dig, hoping to find some water.  All the big animals started to dig by stepping on the spot repeatedly. They spent the whole day there with no success. Some small animals started to die of thirst.

The next day the elephant lead the rest to another spot. There, they also did the same procedure. They again did not find any water. At this moment, small animals that had still survived, insisted to go and apologize to the tortoise. They all set off to the tortoise. But the tortoise told them that they have to go and apologize to the hare. The king rose and said: “Impossible! The hare is the smallest animal in this village. I can’t go to apologize to it.” They started to argue. Some animals agreed to apologize to the hare, but some did not agree. In the end the animals agreed to go to the hare.

They found the hare at its house. The king of the village asked the hare to forgive the animals for destroying the tortoise’s crops and begged to bring back rains. “I will bring back the rain only if I become the king of this village.” said the hare. With no hesitation, the animals agreed to make the hare the king. The hare immediately went up to the mountain where it did its charm. Soon heavy rains fell down and there was water again in their village. From that day the hare became the king.


(translated by author, recorded at Singano village, 17.07.2016)

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