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Home :  African Legends :  The wise little goat

The wise little goat

Bura Folktales Legend (Nigeria)

The goats had a village of their own and a chief and everything. The hyenas also had their own village and a chief.

One day the goats fell to arguing whether a goat could ever go into the village of the hyenas and return without being caught and eaten. One smart little goat said that he could go and return without losing a hair. Their chief laughed and said, "If you go into the hyena village and do not get caught, when you return I will give you my kingdom."

That same day the wise little goat began to plait a rope. Day after day he sat quietly plaiting rope. One day when he had quite a pile plaited, he wrapped some of it around himself and tied the rest into a bundle and started off for the hyena village.

He ran very fast and soon found himself among the rocks in the very middle of the enemy's village. Before he could hardly think, several hyenas were coming right for him. "Do not catch me," urged the little goat, "for I am your chief's guest." They did not catch him, but they followed him every step of the way to the chief's house.

The moment the chief of the hyenas saw the goat, he was ready to pounce onto him and eat him. "Oh, chief, do not catch me," cried the goat, "because I am bringing you very good news. Before long all of us in the goat village are going to move into your village. I have brought the cattle ropes ahead so that they will be here when we arrive with our herd of cattle."

The chief smiled and licked his chops. "We are very glad to hear of your moving here, I am sure," he said, as he tried to control his ravenous appetite.

"Chief, we would be greatly obliged if you could build several large pens for our cattle," suggested the wise little goat, as he was about to leave. The smiling hyena agreed to do all that he could and handed him a few coins to seal their friendship. Bold little goat went into the hyena market and bought a gourd of honey and some skin. As he came by the chief's house, he hastily bid him good-bye and started. To his dismay, two big lean hyenas followed him all too close for comfort. They said, "We will start you on your way safely." But they kept following until the worried little goat finally asked, "Is there any reason why you are following me so far?" One of the hyenas said to the other, "There is no reason why we should make ourselves tired. Let us stop here." But the other hyena insisted on going on. He really hoped to kill the goat and eat him.

Presently he came to a stream. As they climbed up the opposite bank, they saw a great lion ready to spring on them. The lion saw their fright and asked, "Where are you going?" Quickly the little goat answered, "I am a medicine-man on a journey. These two fellows following along here, I do not know what they want." "What kind of a medicine-man are you?" queried the lion. "I am," choked the little goat, "a rain-maker." "All right, make some rain and let me see," suggested the lion. The little goat shook himself with all his might, and it rained. The lion stood amazed and said, "You are a real medicine-man. Make me a charm." The little goat said, "I would gladly, but I have no skin." "What kind of a skin do you need to make me a charm?" queried the lion. "Hyena skin," answered the goat. The lion turned to the hyenas who had been following the little goat and said, "Will you tear me a piece of skin off your body?" The hyenas wanted to run, but with a lion standing so near there was no place to run. The one thing for them to do was for them to tear off a piece of skin and give it to the goat. The goat dipped the skin into his honey and asked the lion to lick the skin, but instead the lion opened his mouth wide and took it in one swallow. The goat timidly asked, "Did you swallow it? Where will we get more skin?" The lion raised his tail and gave a low roar, "Hyena, will you give us more of your skin?" The hyenas studied a moment and then made a dive into the deep grass. But in a few great bounds the lion was on them and, with growling and clawing, he almost skinned them alive.

When he had the dripping skins firmly in his jaws, he came bounding to where he had left the medicine-man. But the wise little goat was gone and the lion never found him.

There was great ado as the brave little goat came back to his village. He went straight to the chief's house and gleefully announced, "You said no one could go into the hyena village and come back. Here am I. I have gone, and I have come back. Nothing has happened to me." Quickly the goats agreed that, because of his cleverness, he should be their chief.


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