A hunters’ poem from Lesotho. Throughout this poem, the description shifts to the first person singular to give the hyena’s own words.

The hyena is the greedy one among the wild beasts,
The one that drops a bone is a small one. (1)
Growler, son of the hyena, he keeps on growling.
Master hyena, what have you seen?
I growl being a poor body, I am small,
I am hunched up like the elephant.
Hyena of the Mmankala of Kone-land, (2)
Spotted animal that dwells along rivers:
When it says ngou! it devours even man.
Hyena, scatterer of excrement,
That of the lion makes me sweat:
That thing there, to go about with such a coward is to be lost:
Hyena, that walks along all humped up
Because it is plain it has come from stealing something.

by S.M. Lekgothoane
from ‘Praises of Animals in Northern Sotho’ pp. 195 & 197
Bantu Studies 12 (1938)
Witwatersrand University Press


Footnotes

  1. The one that drops a bone: that is, it is only a baby hyena which ever fails to eat up everything.
  2. The Mmankala of Kone-land are a group whose symbol is the hyena.