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Home :  African Legends :  The lion and the leopard

The lion and the leopard

Bura Folktales Legend (Nigeria)

Long, long ago the lion and the leopard sat down to talk about their strength. The lion said, "Nothing in the bush can overcome me. If I wanted to, I could catch any of the animals in the bush, because they are not as strong as I am. But there is one thing which walks through the bush, this one thing I greatly fear. He has two legs and there is something on his shoulder. If he takes that thing down from his shoulder, the next thing he does is to make fire. He alone frightens me. In all the bush I fear nothing like I fear him."

The leopard said, "Yes! This is nothing to fear. I catch him almost every day." Then the lion said, "But I know that you cannot catch him. Even I fear him, not to mention you. Or are you greater than I?" "Let us sit down here, and maybe he will come after a while," said the leopard.

While they talked, suddenly a hunter appeared. The lion said, "Aha! leopard, there he comes, sir. Let me see what you can do." The leopard said, "Sit quiet and watch me, and see what I do to him." Slyly the leopard made his way toward the hunter and hid himself near the hunter's path so that he could spring on him and catch him. But the hunter saw him. As the leopard sprang to catch him, quickly the hunter seized his axe and struck the leopard over the head and killed him.

When the lion saw that the hunter had killed the leopard, he ran and climbed into a leafy tree. He wanted to see what the hunter would do with the leopard. The hunter took the leopard and built a fire and roasted him. Then he began to eat him. "Oh" said the lion, "this thing is awful, isn't it?" The lion jumped down and ran away.

If the leopard had caught the hunter that day, by this time not one of us would be left. Because of what the hunter did, we are alive. Even to this day, when a lion sees a man, he is afraid.


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