“Hawu, hawu, hawu, my children,” Gogo began one evening. “You know, cleverness is a very important thing to own! Why, cleverness has helped Nogwaja out of the cooking pot more than once!”
“The Jackal is also a clever animal, isn’t he, Gogo?” asked little Sipho (see’ poh), who was quite proud that his nickname was Mpungushe (mpoo-ngoo’-shay = “jackal”). Gogo, in fact, had given him that name because of the loud howl he had made as a baby. Sipho liked to think it was because he was quick and agile as the Jackal.
Gogo laughed and looked at the child at her feet. “Yes, my boy! You are right! Jackal is a very clever animal. Sometimes too clever for his own good!”
“I remember how he helped Jabu the herdboy by tricking Bhubesi back into the snare. Tell us another tale about Jackal, Gogo!” begged Sipho.
“Yes, Gogo,” her other grandchildren chorused. “Please tell us….”
“Alright, my children. But listen and learn!” Gogo settled her round self down more comfortably upon the tree stump. “Kwasuka sukela . . .”
One day long ago, Jackal was trotting through a narrow, rocky pass. As he often did, he kept his nose to the ground as he ambled along, to catch the odd scent. “Never know when I’ll happen upon my next meal, ” he thought to himself, although it was highly unlikely that he would find a rat out in the midday heat. But perhaps he could catch a lizard or two.
Suddenly he was aware of a movement ahead of him in the pass. “Oh, no!” Jackal moaned and stopped dead-still in his tracks. Lion was coming toward him. Realising that he was too near to escape, Jackal was filled with fear. He had played so many tricks on the great Bhubesi in the past, he was sure that lion would take this opportunity to get his revenge. In a flash Jackal thought of a plan.
“Help! Help!” cried Jackal. He cowered down on the cliff path, looking above at the rocks.
Lion stopped short in surprise.
“Help!” Jackal howled, using the fear he felt in the middle of his chest to accentuate his cry. Jackal glanced up at Bhubesi. “Oh, great Nkosi! Help! There is no time to lose! See those great rocks above us? They are about to fall! We shall both be crushed to death!!!! Oh, mighty Lion, do something! Save us!” And Jackal cowered even lower, his paws covering his head.
Lion looked up, most alarmed. Before he even had a chance to think, Jackal was begging him to use his strength to hold up the overhanging rock. So Lion put his brawny shoulder to the rock and heaved.
“Oh, thank you, great King!” yelped Jackal. “I will quickly fetch that log over there to prop under the rock, and we will both be saved!” With that Jackal bounded out of sight.
Lion was left all alone to struggle under the weight of the unmoving rock. How long he remained there before he realised that it was another trick, we will never know. But this much we do know: Jackal continued to live by his wits!
Once upon a time there lived a wise man by the name of Mamad. He never lied. All the people in the land, even the ones who lived twenty days away, knew about him.
The king heard about Mamad and ordered his subjects to bring him to the palace. He looked at the wise man and asked:
” Mamad, is it true, that you have never lied?”
” It’s true.”
“And you will never lie in your life?”
” I’m sure in that.”
“Okay, tell the truth, but be careful! The lie is cunning and it gets on your tongue easily.”
Several days passed and the king called Mamad once again. There was a big crowd: the king was about to go hunting. The king held his horse by the mane, his left foot was already on the stirrup. He ordered Mamad:
“Go to my summer palace and tell the queen I will be with her for lunch. Tell her to prepare a big feast. You will have lunch with me then.”
Mamad bowed down and went to the queen. Then the king laughed and said:
“We won’t go hunting and now Mamad will lie to the queen. Tomorrow we will laugh on his behalf.”
But the wise Mamad went to the palace and said:
“Maybe you should prepare a big feast for lunch tomorrow, and maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe the king will come by noon, and maybe he won’t.”
“Tell me will he come, or won’t he?” – asked the queen.
“I don’t know weather he put his right foot on the stirrup, or he put his left foot on the ground after I left.”
Everybody waited for the king. He came the next day and said to the queen:
“The wise Mamad, who never lies, lied to you yesterday.”
But the queen told him about the words of Mamad. And the king realized, that the wise man never lies, and says only that, which he saw with his own eyes.