Dear Friends and Story Lovers

Kapilolo Mahongo carries an ancient oral storytelling tradition in his memory. Last week he visited the exquisite rock art etchings in the Klein Karoo with Spanish folklorist, Jose Manuel de Prada Samper, who took these photographs. This is one of the stories he told at these historic sites.

 The Story of Elephant, Hippo and Hare.

 Hare was basking in the hot African sun. He planned to plough a patch of earth and plant mealies for his family, but he was too lazy. Half dreaming, Hare conjured up a plan. He grinned and stretched.

 Hare hopped into the bush to find Elephant. “Big Man,” Hare said, “Do you want to play a game with me? I bet you I can win you in a game of tug-of-war!”

 Elephant laughed at Hare. “You cheeky brat, one tug and you’re a loser!”

“No, just wait here, Big Man Elephant, I will be back with the rope!”

Hare fetched a long, thick rope from a tree and raced to the river, where Hippopotamus was wallowing in the shallows.

“Hey Uncle Hippo, want to play a game with me? I bet you I can win you in a game of tug-of-war!”

Hippo raised his round, big body out of the water and waddled into the mud. “You scrawny little scamp,” Hippo growled, “Pass the rope and I’ll pull you into the river in one tug!”

Hare tied the rope around Hippo’s huge mouth. Hare told Hippo to pull when he hears him call. Hare ran into the bush to tie the other end around Elephant’s long trunk.

“When I say so, Big Man Elephant, you must pull the rope!”

Hare rushed to hide away behind a tree.


Elephant and Hippo both tugged and pulled with all their might. Stomping and stamping, the two big guys ploughed up the earth as they shoved and pushed along. Their massive bodies slid in the mud, until suddenly…Hippo and Elephant were standing face to face!

The big guys’ voices thundered through the forest as Hippo and Elephant shouted at Hare. How dare he play such a trick on them!Of course, the little trickster hopped away swiftly, jumping and bouncing, disappearing into the forest, faster than fast. When he returned the next day, the earth was ploughed, ready for planting.

And so, Hare lay back against the trunk of a tree, basking in the hot African sun and planning his next trick!

The story walks till here!

Kapilolo has been my story-telling partner for more than 20 years – what a mentor! He is the co-founder of the Manyeka Arts trust and leader of his community of more than 3000 !Xun speakers.

Till next time