African Legends :
The Servant Who Shot a Bush Goat
|The Servant Who Shot a Bush Goat|
Bura Folktales Legend (Nigeria)
|There was a servant who had to work very hard for his master. He planted and hoed the corn, cut grass and wove mats, cut grass for the roof, and built a fence around the compound.|
One day his master sent him to cut grass for mats. The servant took his sickle and bow and quiver and started off for the bush. When he came near to a patch of mat grass, he saw a bush goat. Almost without thinking he shot it with a poison, arrow. Then he busied himself cutting grass and cutting bark for rope with which to make a mat for his master. When he was ready to go home, he put the bush goat inside the grass and made it up into a tight bundle. As he walked along carrying his bundle of grass no one could see what he had inside of it.
The sun had gone down and it was getting dark before the servant reached home. He put his grass down outside and went into the compound. His master said, "What happened that you did not get back sooner? Could you not find plenty of grass?" The servant replied, "There is not much any more. I had to hunt through what was left."
When the evening meal was ready, they ate. The servant did not want to tell that he had shot a bush goat. He wanted to ask about what part of the animal would go to the servant before he told what he had shot. After finishing their meal they sat and talked, and he said, "If a servant shoots anything in the bush and brings it in, and the women cook it, what part does the servant get?" His master said, "The servant always gets the same parts, he gets the bony part of the head and the feet." "Is that all he gets?" asked the servant. His master replied, "What other part would he get? Those are his parts."
The servant said to himself, "If that is all the servant gets, I will not show them my bush goat. The bush goat that I shot myself, and then only get to taste the bony part of the head? I will not agree to it."
When it had become pitch dark, the servant went out and took the bush goat out of the bundle of grass. He took it off into the bush and built a fire and roasted it, and ate all that he wanted of whatever parts he wanted. When he had eaten all that he could eat, he gathered up the rest and put it up in the fork of a tree. The next day he came back and ate some more, and so on until all was finished.
If his master had been reasonable and allowed him to have a decent part, all of them would have enjoyed meat. The master's selfishness kept them from tasting it. When any one is selfish, the Buras say, "There is a bush goat lying outside in the grass."