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The Story of Kalulu and His Money Farm

Kalulu and His Money Farm

A Story from the Mashona Bantu People

In the tales about Kalulu he is usually advising or scolding, trying to be an important person.

One planting time, just before the seasonal rains started, the chief ordered each animal to grow one certain crop. He told Warthog to grow the yams, Baboon the corn, Elephant the sorghum, and so on. But Kalulu the Hare, the big show-off, spoke up and said:

Chief, give me a bag of money and I will grow such a large crop that you will be rich.

Nonsense, boomed the chief. No one can grow cowrie shells.

Kalulu leaned close to the chiefs ear. I have the secret, he whispered knowingly.

The chief trusted Kalulu. He gave him a bag of cowrie shells. Of course, Kalulu had no intention of trying to grow money. He bought new clothes, fancy tidbits for his dinner, furnishing for his home, and strings of shiny beads for Mrs. Hare. Kalulu though he was smart. He forgot the awful consequences that would follow, when his mischief would be discovered.

Where is the money you promised to grow? asked the chief at harvest time.

Money is a very slow-growing crop, Chief. Perhaps it will be ready next year. Kalulu still felt confident and was excited by all the luxuries he had bought.

Next year-and the next-Kalulu gave the same answer. At last the chief ordered Warthog, a most dependable animal, to go with Kalulu to his money garden. For the first time Kalulu was afraid. How could he prevent Warthog from learning the dreadful truth!

Oh, Warthog, Kalulu pleaded in a pained voice. Not today, please. I have a bad case of indigestion. The garden is miles from here-deep in the forest. Have pity on a poor sick hare, Warthog.

The chief ordered me to visit your garden, Kalulu, and visit it I will. Well walk slowly and the fresh air will be good for you.

Kalulu, brooding and sullen, led the way into the cool green forest. Warthog, determined, followed. Vines hung from the trees. Ferns crowded the trail. The woods were very quiet.

Kalulu was quiet also, trying to plot a means of escape. He stopped suddenly. Warthog, he said. Well have to sleep in the garden tonight. I must go back for my pillow, but you wait here.

Kalulu went back over the trail, looked for a long, hollow reed, found one, and from it cut a hunters horn. He crept through the bushes until he came level with Warthog. Kalulu put the horn to his lips, blew a blast, and shouted in a gruff voice, Hunters, hunters! I see a fat Warthog-come catch him for supper.

Who wants to be someones supper? grunted Warthog. Not I! He scooted toward home as fast as his legs would carry him.

Kalulu was saved. He hurried to the chief and in a puzzled voice said, When I returned with my pillow, Chief, something in the forest must have frightened Warthog for he was gone.

The chief then called on Lion to go with Kalulu. And inwardly, Kalulu trembled. How could he scare Lion who was the bravest, strong, most fearless animal in Bantuland! He thought deeply as he led Lion along the narrow trail through the forest.

Bother! Kalulu said when they were deep in the woods. I have forgotten my hoe. Wait here, Lion, while I run home for it.

Ill take a nap in this spot of sun while Im waiting, said Lion with a wide yawn that showed his long, strong teeth. He snuggled into the fork of a low-growing tree and at once fell asleep.

Kalulu was in a panic. He scarcely noticed that he had left the trail until he tripped over something large and bulky half hidden in the grass. Bother, he said, struggling to his feet. Then he grinned. What luck!

Kalulu stooped and picked up a twisted antelope horn almost three feet long. It was the kind of horn from which his tribe made trumpets, their sound so loud that it shook the mountains.

What luck! Kalulu repeated as he carved a mouthpiece with his little knife a few inches from the narrow end of the horn.

Kalulu crept back to where Lion slept. He pushed the trumpet through the bushes near Lions ear, took a long breath, and blew. Blarrh-rh-rh! The noise rent the air, bent the bushes, and shook poor Lion from his untroubled sleep. He scrambled to his feet and dashed for home.

Kalulu, chuckling to himself and filled with self-importance, swaggered back to the village and reported to the chief. When I returned from collecting my hoe, Chief, Lion was not there. Something in the forest must have frightened him.

Surely not brave Lion! gasped the chief.

Lion hung his head. There are bad spirits in that forest, Chief, he said.

Shame on you, Lion, the chief scolded. He stroked his chin. Mmm Warthog, who is known for his honesty, failed. Lion, who was known for his courage until a recent event, failed. He studied each animal in turn. Tortoise, you are known for your good sense. Make Kalulu lead you to his money farm. See that he harvests the crop. Bring it to me. Now, go!

Kalulu, plodding along the forest trail, had a scary feeling that at last he had been trapped by his own silly stupid tricks. His knees trembled. He could hardly push one heavy foot before the other.

Tortoise followed at a slow even pace. He dropped the satchel he was carrying when Kalulu suddenly said, You know, Tortoise, Ive forgotten my pillow. You wait here, and Ill run home for it.

You dont need to, Kalulu. You can use mine. Tortoise hauled a pink and white striped pillow from the satchel.

They plodded on. The forest was silent except for the sound of their steps scuffing through the dried leaves and the beat, beat, beat of Kalulus heart.

Bother, said Kalulu, stopping again. Ive forgotten my hoe. You wait here, Tortoise, and Ill run home for it.

You dont need to Kalulu. You can use mine. Tortoise pulled a short-handled hoe from the satchel.

What could he do? What dreadful punishment would be his when the fraud was discovered? Perhaps he would be tossed into jail-or hanged. He might even be put into a pie! If he could find a way to escape he would never boast or brag again! Such were Kalulus dismal thoughts as they walked on in silence.

For a third time, Kalulu stopped. Lion was right, Tortoise, he said with a shiver. There are bad spirits in this forest. I can hear them. Stay here and Ill run home for my charms.

You dont need to, Kalulu. I have charms. Dont be a scared hare! That soft smooth sound like moaning spirits is Termite and his family munching the tree trunks.

I say theyre spirits. If you dont watch out, theyll get you. But they wont get me!

Kalulu turned, raced home, flung open the door, and shouted to his wife, Help me! Hide me! They know I cheated.

About the money crop? she asked.

Yes, yes! Hide me quickly!

Where? How? Theres nowhere.

Pretend I am your baby, Wife. Pull out all my fur and cover me with clay. Now! At once!

She did as he told her. It was a painful ordeal for Kalulu. Each time Mrs. Hare pulled out a handful of fur he squirmed and groaned.

Hush! Be still! she scolded. You brought this on yourself, you know.

Kalulu was one third his normal size without his thick coat, and very pink-like a newborn hare. Mrs. Hare just had time to smear him with clay and sling him in a shawl across her back (the way all Bantu mothers carry their babies) when a sharp rap sounded on the door.

We are the chiefs warriors, growled the taller of two men who carried spears and shields. Where is Kalulu?

Mrs. Hare shrugged. He is not here, sir. Maybe hes harvesting the crop on his money farm. Only Baby and I are home at present.

Give me the child, the warrior demanded. We will hold him as a hostage until Kalulu delivers his money crop.

Mrs. Hare protested, but the warriors insisted, so she rolled Kalulu in a blanket made from lambskin and placed him carefully in a basket. As she lowered the lid Mrs. Hare whispered, In the morning when I bring breakfast pretend that you are dead. Then she tied the lid securely with a piece of string.

Next morning, when Mrs. Hare opened the basket, she uttered anguished cries and shrieks. There lay her Baby, eyes closed, body stretched out stiffly, paws lying limply.

My Baby, my Baby, she wailed. Youve killed my Baby. Mrs. Hare threw herself on the ground. Not even a cup of good, strong tea succeeded in stopping the flow of tears, the moans, the groans, the hysterical outburst of crying.

The chief was a kind man-easily deceived, as we have already seen. He blamed himself for Mrs. Hares tragedy. There, there, he said, patting her on the shoulder. Mrs. Hare wept louder. The village women wept with her. Even the chief blinked away a few tears as he ordered a servant to bring the contents of his treasury.

There is little we can do to ease your grief, Mrs. Hare, but please accept this bag of money as a tiny token of our sympathy.

Mrs. Hare hesitated long enough to be polite. Then she tucked the money bag under one arm, the basket under the other, faked a few more sobs, and went to her home.

She found Kalulu groaning with stiffness and shivering in his nakedness. Im cured of boasting and bragging and cheating; I promise never to do it again, he declared.

See that you keep your promise, Mrs. Hare cautioned. Then she gave him a tender hug.

When Kalulu had grown a new fur coat-long, thick, glossy, more luxuriant than ever-he took the bag of money and laid it before the chief. At last, Chief, here is the crop of money I promised to grow for you.

The good chief was made happy, but no happier than Kalulu who had learned that lies and deceit bring only troubles and worries.

Kaula, Edna Mason. African Village Folktales. Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company, 1968

Originated from Southern Africa.

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