African Legends :
Bura Folktales Legend (Nigeria)
|One day a pregnant woman went into the bush to gather firewood. While there, her time came and she was not able to return to the house. She found a cave in the rock and gave birth to a little boy.|
That evening, a lioness came to the entrance of the cave and gave birth to a son. The frightened woman saw the lioness, but the lioness did not know that the woman was there. Her first thought was to cry out, and maybe she could thus frighten the lioness away. But on further thought she decided to patiently wait and see what would happen. She watched her chance, and when the mother lion went away for food, she would rush out and get food, and then rush back to her little one.
Many days went by, and the babies grew. One day when both mothers were away, the little cub went into the cave and found the little boy, and they played together. When the little lion knew that it was about time for the mothers to return, he went back to his nest and pretended to be fast asleep. Day after day they had happy times together. In these play-times the son of a lion learned the language of the son of a woman.
One day the little cub said, "My friend, I surely like you. You are sweeter to me than my own mother. Tell your mother to be very careful, because my mother is very mean. I fear that the day they meet my mother will kill and eat your mother." The little boy appreciated his little friend ever so much, but he was always in fear for his mother's life. One evening as he loved her, he told his mother about the danger and the warning. She was always very careful, but the sad day came when the lioness caught her and brought part of her mangled body home to her cub. The little cub seemed very sick and would not touch it because he was so sad. He could not think of anything but the sorrows of his little friend. His anger toward his mother was deep and bitter. When his mother went out again, he ran to his little friend and said, "My friend, a great loss has come to us. My mother has killed your mother. But now it is finished. I beg of you, tie your heart, and do not let it become bitter toward me, please. About your food, I will see after that. When I have food, you will have food, and when I have no food, only then will you be without food. You shall have your share of everything. I vow that when I am grown I will kill my mother because she has done this wicked deed. Then the two of us can live in peace."
Months went by, but never did the cub forget his friend. Whenever the lioness would bring home meat, the cub would always put back part of it. After several years had gone by, the young lion felt that he was strong enough and big enough to kill his mother, and save his friend. That very day he killed her and freed his friend.
"Now we are free to walk where we will, and I am young and strong and able to catch plenty of food for both of us.
Then one day they came near a village and the boy heard other boys talking about being circumcised. He wanted to be circumcised, too, but he had no father to help him, so he was sad. "What is wrong?" said the lion. "Why do you have nothing to say?" "I hear that all the boys are being circumcised. If I had a father he would help me, and I could be circumcised, too," sobbed the boy. "Dry your tears, and do not let anything like this disturb you again, for I am able to take the place of your father," urged the strong lion. "You tell me what you want, and I will get it for you."
The boy suggested that he needed money with which to buy food during the time of the circumcision. Immediately the lion was off. Before he had gone far, he met a man on the way to market, from whom he frightened plenty of money. When the boy had his money, he went to be circumcised. When asked where he would get food, he replied, "God will give me food." Usually, he would buy food with the money which his friend the lion had given him. At times, be would meet his friend out away from the village and receive meat from him.
Years went by, and one day the young man saw a young woman he loved. "If I could only have had a father like other young men," he sighed. The lion was quick to recognize the young man's mood and urged that he could be a real father to him. "Well, I want a wife, and I need a father to help me," he pleaded. "All right," said the lion, "select your wife, and I will help you take her." "I have selected my wife. She is the daughter of the chief. Many men have asked to take her, but her father will not give her up." The strong lion stretched himself up and boasted, "I can get her for you easily. You go into the village. I will watch the chief's farm. When she goes to plant, I will catch her. Then the whole village will come out to take her away from me, but I will not give her up. You be brave and come after her. Even though I try to catch you, do not be afraid."
The young man was delighted. He said, "I will go into the village at once." And away the lion went for the farm. That afternoon, when the villagers were beginning to come from their farms, there was a cry from the river, "Lion! Lion!" The whole village rushed out to frighten away the lion, but, to their dismay, he had caught the daughter of the chief and he was not afraid of the noise and the dogs. The young braves were afraid to try to rescue the daughter of the chief. The chief saw that she was lost, and he shouted, "Whoever rescues her shall have her for his wife. I will also give him half of my kingdom." When the men heard this they made desperate attempts to rescue her, but the fear of the lion kept them back.
With a rush, this young man went for the lion, shouting, "I will rescue her." When he was about to strike the lion a blow, the lion dropped her and ran away in the tall grass. She became his wife. He received a part of her father's kingdom. They lived happily with their friend the lion, ever after.