Sunday, December 2, 2012

African Folklore: Caracal, Eland and Jackal

(A Bushman Story)  Caracal was returning home from a hunting foray when he bumped into Eland. Caracal had never seen Eland before.  Approaching warily, he said, "Good day friend! What may your name be?"

Eland struck the ground with his huge forefoot, raising a great cloud of dust.  He replied in a deep, gruff voice, "I am Eland!  Who are you?"

Caracal in awe at the size of the King of all antelopes, quietly answered, "I am Caracal." Then, in fear ran home as fast as he could.

Jackal lived nearby and, when they met, he asked Caracal what was worrying him.

"Friend Jackal, I am quite out of breath and half dead with fright.   I have just seen a fearsome looking fellow, with a large thick head and huge twisted horns.  I asked him his name and he answered, 'I am Eland'.

"What a foolish fellow you are to let such a lovely piece of flesh go untasted!" laughed Jackal.  "Tomorrow we shall go and trap Eland and eat a huge feast together."

Next day, the two set off to look for Eland. But as they appeared over a hill, Eland saw them.  He ran to his wife and said, "I fear that this is our last day, for Caracal and Jackal are coming to kill us. What shall we do?"

"Do not be afraid," said Eland's wife. "Take our child and make him cry as if he were hungry." Eland hesitated, but then he saw the reason for his wife's request.  He did as she said, and went to meet Jackal and Caracal.

As soon as Caracal saw Eland, he was overcome with fear. Jackal was ready for this and he tied Caracal to himself with a leather thong.  In this way, they would stand steadfast.

Eland prodded his calf with his horns.  This made the youngster bleat and cry in surprise. Then Eland called out, "You have done well, friend Jackal.  You have brought Caracal for us to eat. Hear how my youngster cries for food."

At these frightening food, Caracal was terrified. He pleaded with Jackal to untie him but Jackal was hungry and would not hear of it.

This was more than poor Caracal could stand.  He set off at a tremendous pace to the safety of his house, dragging Jackal behind him.  Caracal didn't stop.  He pulled Jackal through bushes, over rocks, and through streams.

Eventually and exhausted Caracal reached home. Poor Jackal was scratched and bruised from his ordeal.

Eland had escaped and was never bothered by Caracal and Jackal again. And they are still in awe of this huge antelope to this day. (From "When Lion Could Fly: And Other Tales from Africa"; by Nick Greaves and Rod Clement)