Oral Literature. Koba, the Hunter who stopped Hunting

There was once a man called Koba, a hunter. One day he left his house and went off to hunt in a place that was far away.

When Koba reached a certain locust-bean tree, he made his camp under it. Every day he went out hunting, and every night also, resting only for necessity, to eat and to sleep.

One day when he was out hunting, he suddenly heard the mighty roar of a lion very close to him. Never had he heard such a roar before. Greatly alarmed, Koba turned and ran as fast as he could toward his camp. He was carrying a bow and some arrows. On the way, his bow caught in the low branches of a tree. He pulled but could not release the bow, and he thought it was the lion who had caught it, but he was too frightened to turn his head to look.

“Please, King of Animals – cried Koba -, “let go of my bow. I have not come out to hunt you. You are the king not only of animals but also of human beings who are your Majesty’s subjects.”

Koba never turned his head. He waited for an answer from the lion, but as it was branches of a tree holding his bow there was no answer.

“If you are angry with me because of other hunters – Koba continued – I promise to tell them no longer to hunt you. If you are too angry to release my bow, keep it. Only let me go free to tell other hunters not to hunt lions.”

Again, there was no answer. Koba left his bow and ran on to his camp by the locust-bean tree. Quickly he packed his belongings and then made the journey back to his house with all possible speed.

“My brothers!” Koba cried when he reached his house and found two of his friends, “I have a terrible story to tell you of my escape from a lion whose roar is greater than any thunder.”

After he told them his story, the two friends said, “Lead us to the place where the lion caught your bow.” See, – said Koba – the lion must have given my bow to this tree.”

Koba led the two friends all the way back to the place. When they arrived, they saw the bow in the low branches of a tree.

“See,” said Koba, “the lion must have given my bow to this tree in order to return it to me. The lion is not only the king of animals, but he is also the king of trees.”

The two friends said that it was the branches of the tree that had caught the bow, not a lion. “No, no – Koba said – It was certainly a lion. He pulled the bow and I pulled the bow, but the lion being stronger than me forced me to leave the bow with him.”

From that day onwards, for the rest of his life, Koba never dared go far into the forest or the bush from his home. However much his two friends might laugh, he feared that he would meet a lion and that the lion would remember his promise to tell all other hunters never to hunt lions again. Koba himself never hunted again: he became a farmer. (From Losi people – Zambia – Photo: 123rf)

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