Hausa Folklore by Maalam Shaihu and translated By R. Sutherland Rattray


A certain doctor of learning set out to go to Mecca in order to add to his rewards hereafter that they might be many. He had a very thin mare. He mounted, (and) went deep into the forest when he saw a hyena. The mare was weary and the hyena said, 'Doctor, where are you going?' The doctor said, 'I am going the pilgrimage.' 'What is the matter?' (said the hyena). He said, 'It is the mare, she is weary.' She (the hyena) said, 'Is that it?' the hyena said, 'Give her (the mare) to me, I shall kill her, and eat her up. You will mount me and we shall set out.' The doctor said,'So?' She (the hyena) said, 'Yes.' The doctor said, 'You must not deceive me.' She replied, 'Come now, Doctor, because I have seen she was unable to go on, it is because of that, (I speak thus) I for my part, if you mount me, this instant will I carry you to Mecca.' The doctor said, 'All right, catch (the mare) and eat (it) up.'

The hyena seized the mare, tore it up, picked up the meat (and) took it home.

She ate it with her cubs (children), they ate up (all) the meat; (then) she refused to return. The doctor sat down (and) got tired (of waiting), he did not see that the hyena has (had) come back. Things were like this, when a jackal came and met the doctor sitting there. The jackal said, 'Doctor, what has happened?' The doctor said, 'I have set out from my home going to Mecca, my mare got tired, I was sitting down, the hyena came across me and asked what was the matter, and I said, I am going to Mecca, my mare got tired, and that is the cause of my sitting here.

And the hyena said, Oh, this thing can never take you to Mecca. Give her to me to eat that I may feel joy, and increase my strength, so that I may carry you to Mecca. I then said, Hyena, you must not deceive me, eat up my mare for me, and then run away, (and) I shall not see you again. She replied, Where do they do that sort of thing? it is the truth I told you, there is no lie in it, then I said (thought) it was true, (and) told her to catch (the mare). That is all, the hyena went off; till to-day I have not seen her.' And the jackal said, 'Leave off, Doctor, I will bring her to you now.'

He lifted the saddle and saddle-cloth and bit and halter and spurs and whip and went off, and he got a lump of meat and took it. As he went he was dropping the horse furniture one by one until he got near the mouth of the hole (where the hyena) was. He put aside the saddlecloth and passed on, and came to the mouth of her hole, and stood, and announced his arrival. No answer, for previous to this the hyena has told her children saying, 'Whoever comes here looking for me, you must say I am not here.' So when the jackal hailed, they said,

'She is not here.' And the jackal said, 'Allah curse her, she has no luck; men are sought for that they may get something good, and bad luck prevents them from getting it. See, a cow has died, a very fat one, I have come to call her and show her, and you say, she is not here. Let me return.'

Then the hyena said, 'Who is seeking me?' The jackal said, 'I am seeking you. Some cow died, a very fat one, I cut off a big lump and have brought it to you, but these boys are saying you are not here.' And the hyena said, 'There is no God but Allah! you have seen, worthless fellows. I was asleep and was sought for, (and) you say I am not here.' So the hyena came out.

When she came out she said, 'Here I am.' The jackal said, 'Take (it), taste.'

She received (the meat), swallowed it; she did not give to her children. She said, 'Let us be off.' They took the road, they were going along; the hyena was in front a long way, the jackal behind. Then she said, 'You cannot walk, mount me (and) let us get along quickly.'

The jackal mounted her, they were going along; they come across the saddle-cloth. The jackal said, 'Let me spread this thing on your back, the hair on your back is getting ruffled.' And she said, 'Do it quickly and let us get on.' The jackal lifted and spread it. He mounted, they were going along.

They came across the bit, when the jackal said, 'Let me lift up this thing and put it in your mouth; perhaps it will be better for me to hold.' She said, 'Put it on quickly and let us get on.' The jackal put on the bit (and) mounted.

They were going along; they came across the spurs. He dismounted, picked up the spurs, (and) put them on his feet, (and) mounted.

They were going along, they were near the doctor, when the hyena said, 'You must not take this way.' The jackal replied, 'This is where the meat is.' The hyena said, 'Let us make a detour thus.' They have turned off another way, which the jackal knew, and got opposite to where the doctor was, when he turned the bit towards where the doctor was and struck her with the spurs.

Then the hyena sprang forward, saying, 'Uu, uu.' They did not pull up till (they reached) where the doctor was. The jackal pulled up in front of the doctor, dismounted, and said, 'Doctor, behold your debtor. Rise up, mount, and do not get off until you reach where you are going.

If you dismount, even at the water, do not say she is to be taken to the stream.' The doctor replied, 'I have heard.'

The doctor mounted, (and) did not get down till he had reached Mecca. Then he dismounted and gave (the hyena) to (some) boys to hold, saying, 'You must not mount, you must not take her to the stream.' The doctor entered the mosque, they were praying. Then the boys mounted, (and) went off with her to the stream. When they got behind the town then they galloped. The hyena carried them off, and entered the bush with them, and ran until she threw them and went her own way. (Then) the doctor came out of the mosque; he did not see the boys, he did not see the hyena.

That is all.

Off with the rat's head.

Hausa Folklore

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