Oral Literature: Goat, Lion and Snake

Goat and Lion were walking together in the forest. “Friend Lion, where have you been?” asked Goat. “I have just come from a feast with Leopard and Antelope and Zebra and many other animals,” said Lion.

“You have many fine friends – said Goat -. I am all alone and no one cares for me. I eat green grass and I sleep under a tree. I never go to a feast with other animals, but I am happy.

“Don’t you wish that you were strong like me? –  asked Lion -. I roar and everyone is afraid.”

“No, No – said Goat -, I am happy just the way I am. But I know a little animal that is more feared than you.” The Lion was very angry. “All the animals at the feast said that I was King of the Forest. Goat, don’t you know that I could kill you with my paw?”

“That is true -, said Goat – But this animal was not at the feast.” “Who is this little animal that is so great,” asked Lion. “Snake is the animal most feared,” said Goat. “What – roared Lion -. That soft crawling thing that coils itself on the bushes?”

“Yes, – said Goat – Snake is a little animal but he is more feared than you are.” “I could kill Snake with my paw,” roared Lion. “I would not try to kill Snake if I were you -, said Goat -. He can be very dangerous.”

“I shall show you – roared Lion -. “And if I win you must promise to be my servant.” “Yes, – said Goat.  – If you win, I will be your servant. And if Snake wins you must give me one hundred bunches of bananas.” “You had better go and get the bananas now for you may soon be dead.”

Lion went off to get a hundred bunches of bananas. And Goat went to find Snake. Snake was sleeping on the low branch of a bush. “Wake up, Snake -, called Goat -. Lion wants to fight you. If he wins, I will be his servant. If you win, Lion will give me one hundred bunches of bananas.”  “What do you want me to do?” asked Snake. “Crawl up on the bush,” said Goat.

“Ask Lion to come near so that you can see him. Lion is so proud and so sure that he can kill you that he will walk right up to the bush.” “If I kill Lion, what will you do for me?” asked Snake. “I will be your servant for all time,” said Goat.

Pretty soon Lion came with all the big strong animals of the forest. They were bringing one hundred bunches of bananas. “Goat -, called Lion -. Where is your friend that is stronger than I am? I am going to kill him, for I am King of the Forest.”

“Are you Lion?” asked a small voice from the top of a bush. “Yes, I am -, roared Lion -. And who are you that does not know Lion?” “I am Snake, Friend Lion. Come nearer so that I can see you.”

Lion laughed and went up to the bush where Snake was coiled. “You shake with fear,” said Lion. “Yes -, said Snake -. I shake so that I can strike better.”

Snake began to shake and struck Lion in his neck. Snake put his poison into Lion and Lion died. All the other animals ran away for they were afraid of Snake.

“Goat, you are my servant, and you must do what I tell you.” “I want Man to fear Snake.” “Go into the village and tell Man that Lion, King of the Forest, has been killed by Snake. Stay with Man and be his servant. Man will be good to you.” And from that time Goat has lived with Man. And Man has feared Snake.

(Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0/ Armin Kübelbeck – CC BY 2.0/ Kevin Pluck ) – (Folktale from Central Africa)

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