Eight Little Girls and Hyena

8 little girls

Eight little girls liked to play in the surrounding fields. One day, while out picking flowers, it started to rain. They sought a shelter, and found a cave. They got in. It was the house of Surukuba, the Hyena.

A few moments later, Hyena arrived galloping.


As soon as she got near the cave, she stopped and exclaimed:

  • Hum ! It smells like a little girl here !

Then she got close to the the cave, and looking inside, exclaimed:

  • How many are you, little girls ?

The eight girls answered with a single voice singing:

  • Eight little girls !
  • We are indeed eight little girls, to fill Hyena’s mouth !

Overjoyed, Hyena jumped up, and galloped away. She wanted to tell another hyena. If she ate them right away, and then told that one day she had found eight little girls in her house, nobody would believe her ! She had to find a witness.

She galloped away, repeating the the little girls’ song:

  • Eight little girls, to fill Hyena’s mouth .

She found a comrade and invited her to come see what she had found in her cave. In her very own house : eight little chubby girls ! But before their arrival, two little girls ran out of the cave and went back to the village.

The remaining 6 little girls

The remaining six answered:

  • Yes, we are really eight little girls to amuse the fangs of eight hyenas !

The two hyenas went away galloping. They needed to find a third one ? Why not a fourth one ? Then a fifth one ? Then … after all, there were really eight little girls.

But when the hyenas got back and asked:

  • How many are you ? Girls ?
2 hyenas

Only one voice replied. And when the hyenas ran into the cave, they only found a small ring that the oldest of the little girls had put down. It was this little ring which had replied.

Furious, they ran after the little girls. They arrived in the village, as the oldest of the little girls was climbing the fence. A hyena grabbed her foot:

  • I got you, little cunning one. And I am going to eat you !

The oldest of the little girls burst out laughing :

  • Oh! Big moron ! It is not my foot that you hold there, but a wood on the fence .

The hyena let go of the girl’s foot and grabbed the wood. The little girl then jumped into the village and alerted the hunters.

The French original can be found on Ouologuem Blog. Translated to English by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com

Pourquoi la hyène a t-elle le pelage rayé?


Il y a longtemps très longtemps hyène et lièvre étaient de très bons amis.  Mais la hyène, plus rusée trompait toujours le lièvre.
Chaque fois que ce dernier pêchait un superbe poisson bien dodu, c’était la hyène qui se régalait.  Elle inventait des jeux étranges et sournois qu’elle “gagnait” toujours, puis dévorait le gros poisson cuit par le pauvre lièvre.  Un jour le lièvre prit un si gros poisson que son amie hyène faillit s’étrangler de gourmandise quand elle le vit ! Mais ce jour-là, le lièvre dit:
– “Aujourd’hui est mon jour ! Je mangerai tout seul ce gros poisson !
– “Il est bien trop gros pour ton petit ventre ” rétorqua la hyène; ” il pourrira avant que tu ne finisses de le déguster.
– “C’est vrai, mais je le mettrai à fumer dès ce soir pour le manger par petits morceaux ensuite. Ce sera délicieux ! ”


La hyène faillit s’évanouir d’envie.  Elle voulait ce poisson.  Elle devait le manger. Et seule !  Elle convoita tant le poisson qu’elle réfléchit à une nouvelle façon de satisfaire son égoïsme et sa gourmandise aux dépends du lièvre.  Elle agirait discrètement.
La nuit venue, la hyène traversa doucement la rivière tout près de laquelle dormait le lièvre.  Le poisson cuisait tout doucement, embroché au dessus du feu et parfumant la nuit.  La hyène gloussa de joie devant le mauvais tour qu’elle jouerait à son amie et s’approcha.  Le lièvre faisait mine de dormir.  Lorsque la hyène s’empara du poisson, le lièvre bondit, attrapa la broche chauffée à blanc et rossa la hyène qui s’enfuit en hurlant de douleur, de honte, mais surtout de rage !
C’est depuis ce temps que la hyène porte des rayures sur son pelage. Et qu’elle hait le lièvre.

The Jackal and the Wolf


ONCE upon a time Jackal, who lived on the borders of the colony, saw a wagon returning from the seaside laden with fish; he tried to get into the wagon from behind, but he could not; he then ran on before and lay in the road as if dead.  The wagon came up to him, and the leader cried to the driver, “Here is a fine kaross for your wife!
Throw it into the wagon,” said the driver, and Jackal was thrown in.

The wagon traveled on, through a moonlight night, and all the while Jackal was throwing out the flsh into the road; he then jumped out himself and secured a great prize.  But stupid old Wolf (hyena), coming by, ate more than his share, for which Jackal owed him a grudge, and he said to him, ” You can get plenty of fish, too, if you lie in the way of a wagon as I did, and keep quite still whatever happens.

Hyena (Wolf)

So!” mumbled Wolf.
Accordingly, when the next wagon came from the sea, Wolf stretched himself out in the road.

What ugly thing is this?” cried the leader, and kicked Wolf.  He then took a stick and thrashed him within an inch of his life.  Wolf, according to the directions of Jackal, lay quiet as long as he could; he then got up and bobbled off to tell his misfortune to Jackal, who pretended to comfort him.
What a pity,” said Wolf, “I have not got such a handsome skin as you have!

South African Folk Tales, by James A. Honey, 1910, Baker & Taylor Company.

Cloud Eating


Jackal and Hyena were together, it is said, when a white cloud rose.  Jackal descended upon it, and ate of the cloud as if it were fat.

When he wanted to come down, he said to Hyena, “My sister, as I am going to divide with thee, catch me well.”  So she caught him, and broke his fall. Then she also went up and ate there, high up on the top of the cloud.

When she was satisfied, she said, “My greyish brother, now catch me. well.”  The greyish rogue said to his friend, “My sister, I shall catch thee well.  Come therefore down.”

He held up his hands, and she came down from the cloud, and when she was near, Jackal cried out (painfully jumping to one side), “My sister, do not take it ill. Oh me! Oh me! A thorn has pricked me and sticks in me.” Thus she fell down from above, and was sadly hurt.

Since that day, it is said that Hyena’s hind feet have been shorter and smaller than the front ones.

South African Folk Tales, by James A. Honey, 1910, Baker & Taylor Company.