Oral Literature: Rabbit and Antelope

There was no rain and it was very hot. The animals who did not have deep wells were very thirsty. Rabbit went to Antelope and said, “Friend Antelope, I have no water and I am very thirsty. Will you help me to dig a deep well? Then we can both have water.”

“Yes – said Antelope -. I will help you to dig a deep well. Let us eat our food and then go to work.” “No – said Rabbit -. Let us hide it. We will be hungry after our work.”

Rabbit hid the food. Then Rabbit and Antelope started to dig a deep well. They worked very hard. The hole got deeper and deeper. At last, Rabbit said, “I hear someone calling me.” “I hear no one calling,” said Antelope.

“It must be my Wife who is calling me – said Rabbit -. She is about to have some children, and I must go home and name them.” “Go home, Friend Rabbit – said Antelope -. But be back as soon as you can.”

Rabbit jumped out of the hole. He ran back to the village. He took the food from its hiding place and ate some. Then he went back to digging the well. “What did you name the first little rabbit?” asked Antelope. “I called the first one ‘Not Done,’” said Rabbit. “What a strange name, “said Antelope.

Then Rabbit and Antelope worked hard digging the well. “My Wife is calling me – said Rabbit -. I will have to go home and name another baby rabbit.” “I hear nothing,” said Antelope.

Rabbit jumped out of the hole. He ran back to the village. He took the food from its hiding place and ate some. Then he went back to his work digging the well.

“What did you name the second little rabbit?” asked Antelope. “I called the second one; ‘Half Done’ ”, said the Rabbit. “What a strange name,” said Antelope.

Then Rabbit and Antelope worked hard digging the well. Pretty soon Rabbit said: “I hear my wife calling me again.” “I hear nothing”, said Antelope

Rabbit jumped out of the deep hole. He ran to the village. He took the food from its hiding place and ate it all. Then Rabbit went back to his work digging the well.  “What have you named the third little rabbit?” asked Antelope. “I called the third one `All Done,’ “said Rabbit. “What a strange name,” said Antelope.

When the sun was going down, Antelope said, “I have worked hard all day. I am very hungry. Friend Rabbit, go to the village and get our food.” Antelope sat down to rest.

Rabbit went away but he came back very soon and said, “Our food is all gone. I think Cat ate it.” Antelope went to bed tired and hungry. He said to himself, “Why did Rabbit have to go to the village to name his children?”

The next day Rabbit thought he would play the same trick. But Antelope said to him, “I think that you did not tell the truth. You go to the village and you leave me to dig the well. At night the food is gone. You ate it. It is my well and you shall have no water from my well.” Rabbit was very thirsty. He came at night and drank the water from Antelope’s well.

A little bird said to Antelope, “Every night Rabbit comes and drinks water from your well.” Antelope said to himself, “I will play a trick on Rabbit.”

Antelope made a rabbit out of wood. He covered the wooden rabbit with a sticky gum and put, the wooden rabbit beside his well. That night Rabbit thought he saw another rabbit at the well. Rabbit said, “What are you doing here?” But the wooden rabbit did not say a word. “Answer me – cried Rabbit -, Or I will kick you with my foot.”

Wooden rabbit did not say a word. Then Rabbit kicked the wooden rabbit in the face. And his foot stuck on the sticky wooden rabbit. “Let go of me or I will kick you again,” cried Rabbit.

But the wooden rabbit did not let go of his foot. Rabbit kicked the wooden rabbit with his other foot. And that foot stuck to the sticky wooden rabbit. Rabbit was so angry that he hit sticky wooden rabbit with his head. And his head stuck on the wooden rabbit.    

Rabbit cried and cried. But he could not get away from the sticky wooden rabbit. He made so much noise that the animals came. Rabbit looked so funny that the animals laughed and laughed. They carried Rabbit into the village. All the people saw Rabbit stuck to the sticky wooden rabbit. He looked so funny that everyone laughed and laughed. And that is what happened to Rabbit who liked to play tricks on the other animals.

(Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0/Chinmayisk – CC BY-SA 3.0/Gareth Rasberry)

(Folktale from Zambia)