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A legend from Nigeria
The Lion and the Turtle
By Bumni Salako, Dundalk
Once upon a time Lion and Turtle were great friends. Their families were very close as well. The two friends went hunting together every day.
They agreed that when a big animal was killed Lion would take the animal home and when a small one was captured then Turtle would take that small animal home.
We all know that the Lion is bigger than the Turtle and this was the reason for their agreement.
This they did for many years without any problem. One day, they set out to the forest to hunt for food. They walked for several hours without killing any animals.
Just when they decided to give up the hunt, they saw a bull at a distance. Lion went for it and killed it. He was very happy because his family could keep the bull and they would have a great meal.
He asked the Turtle to go to his den and get his children to carry the bull home to his wife.
“Meet me at the stream on your return,” he said to Turtle.
On the way, Turtle had a thought. He decided to call his own children instead of Lion’s children. They took the animal home to their own mother who cooked for them a very delicious meal which they ate then and there. They didn’t wait for their father to return.
Turtle went back to meet his friend by the stream. Lion had not killed any animal since Turtle left.
“I am getting really tired, I think I should go back home.” said the Turtle.
“I think we should hunt a little more so you will have something to take home for your family,” Lionsaid thinking about his friend. “If we catch nothing then we’ll share the bull between us,” Lion
Turtle was shocked at this suggestion. He had thought Lion would never share his big animal with him. He became very uneasy. He decided to go straight home to make sure his wife didn’t cook the bull. So, he pretended he was too weak to continue the hunt.
“I really must go home and rest,” he said to Lion.
“Alright then, if I kill another animal I will bring it home to you, if I don’t kill any more, then I will bring your share of the bull”, assured Lion.
Turtle hurried home to see if he could still take the bull to Lion’s house.
He was not happy with himself when he discovered his wife had already cooked the bull but he sat down and ate it anyway. He was sure Lion would come for him when he discovered he had betrayed him.
He told his wife what he had done.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” she said, “I thought you and Lion had killed two big animals and took one each,” said his wife.
“Lion will be very angry when he finds out,” she added.
“We must be ready to escape because he will kill all of us if he finds us here,” Turtle said to his wife.
While they were still talking they heard Lion’s voice at the door. He had been home and had discovered that Turtle never gave the bull to his children and realised he had been tricked.
As soon as they heard his voice, Turtle’s family ran out of the house through the back door and dived straight into the river at the back of the house. Lion heard the splash in the river and hurried to the back of the house.
When he saw Turtle and his family in the river, he vowed to kill them if they ever came out.
Since then, Turtle and his family have lived inside the river to avoid being killed by Lion.