Hare and Tortoise

Pass on the love of reading! Read this children’s story to a lucky young person.

Told by Mario Kapilolo Mahongo in 2005. Translated by Marlene Winberg.

Hare was basking in the hot sun one day. He noticed Tortoise nibbling on a blade of grass close by.

“Tortoise,” Hare said, “You must be the slowest animal in the bush. You are not fast like me,” boasted Hare, “I can outrun you any day.”

“You will be surprised, Hare,” replied Tortoise,”I am faster than you think.”

Hare challenged Tortoise to a race. They agreed to meet at the same place early the next morning.

Tortoise had a huge family. He had so many relatives that he could not remember all their names or count them all up. That night, Tortoise called his many uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, cousins and nephews, grandmothers, grandfathers and grandchildren together.

”Now we must help each other,” said Tortoise and explained his plan to the tortoise clan.

Early the next morning, Hare arrived at their meeting place in the forest. “Are you ready, Tortoise?” he asked. “Are you ready to loose the race?”

“I am ready, Hare, ready to win the race. Let us begin.”

Hare called out: “Yoo, ha! Ready, steady, off we go!”

Hare jumped and hopped and ran, while Tortoise crawled under the nearest bush to have a little nap.

After a while, Hare looked back over his shoulder and called: “You see Tortoise, I am way ahead of you!”

“Oh no,” said a voice at Hare’s feet, “You are not.”

Hare looked and saw Tortoise at his feet. “What! This is impossible. I must run faster!” And Hare ran faster.

A little further down the path, Hare again called over his shoulder: “Hey, Tortoise, I am way ahead of you!”

Again, a voice at his feet replied: “Oh no, you are not.”

Hare could not believe his long ears. He jumped and ran with all his strength. The same thing happened over and over again. Every time Hare called to Tortoise, Tortoise answered from the ground.

Finally, Hare reached the finishing line. He collapsed with exhaustion and panted: “You see Tortoise, I am the winner.”

Tortoise replied. “Oh no, Hare. I have been at the finishing line for ages, waiting for you.”

Hare crawled away with his ears hanging between his front legs. That was the end of his boasting. Hare never discovered how the clever Tortoise family had played a trick on him.

Thank you to the Manyeka Arts Trust for allowing FunDza to republish this story. To find out more about the Manyeka Arts Trust, visit: www.manyeka.co.za