...in a test of friendship

The Hare and the Rooster were great friends. Their friendship was so strong that they shared everything, even something as tiny as the waist of a white ant. One day, the Rooster invited the Hare to his home.

“Come visit me tomorrow, my friend,” he said.

The Hare was excited. When he told his wife about the invitation, she too was delighted. The next morning, the Hare set off to visit his friend. The Rooster welcomed him with immense joy.

“You are a true friend; true friends visit each other,” the Rooster said.

They sat in the courtyard and chatted about many things. The Rooster told his friend about all the challenges his family was facing, including shortage of food. After a while, he got up.

“Let me go and figure out what we can prepare for you to eat,” he told the Hare.

In the kitchen, the Rooster pulled his wife towards the inner room. He spoke in a whisper.

“That friend of mine is a big copycat. I want you to find a rooster and kill it, cut it into perfect pieces and cook it for him eat. I’m eager to see what he will do thereafter.”

His wife did as instructed. The Rooster stayed in the kitchen for the entire time his wife was preparing food. When it was ready, he got out of the kitchen to join his friend in the courtyard. But this time, the Rooster was hopping on one leg. He had carefully folded one leg under his wing.

Pain was visible on his face. His leg echoed a rhythm sound, tuk tuk tuk as he hopped. When he sat by the Hare, he said: “My dear friend, I took very long in the kitchen looking for what to prepare for you.”

He avoided talking about his missing leg.

The Rooster’s wife soon brought out the meal and they all sat down to eat. The Hare was served the lone drumstick in the big dish. The Rooster was curious to see if he would make a connection to his missing leg. When they had all finished eating, the Hare waited a few minutes before rising up.

“My friend, I have to go now,” he said, thanking the Rooster immensely for the hospitality.

The Rooster saw his off friend and along the way, expressed gratitude for their bond. “Friendship is very important, that’s why I did everything possible to find and prepare for you a wonderful meal,” he said.

The Hare nodded profusely in agreement.

“I think you should stop here,” he said, concerned about the Rooster’s evident pain. “I’m grateful for the delicious meal you and your wife prepared for me.”

When he arrived home, the Hare pulled his wife aside: “Friendship is really important. Because of the strong friendship between me and the Rooster, he cut his own leg and prepared it for me to eat.”

Several weeks later, the Hare also invited his friend home. The Rooster set off the following day. From his home, he walked properly on both legs. As the roof of the Hare’s hut appeared in the distance, he folded his left leg under his wing and began hopping, tuk tuk tuk until he entered the Hare’s home.

The Hare was delighted to see his friend and joyfully welcomed him. After chatting for a short while, he got up: “Let me join my wife in the kitchen and see what we can prepare for you to eat.”

In the kitchen, the Hare told his wife about his plan: “Min Obuce, bring a sharp knife and cut off my leg so that we can cook it.”

Min Obuce dutifully brought out a knife but whenever she attempted to cut off the Hare’s leg, he would burst out in a wail. His body shook with fright. His wife would pause and try again and every time, the Hare would jump up and scream at the impending pain. Eventually, he summoned courage, grit his teeth and allowed his wife to chop off his leg, all the way to the upper thigh.

“Go and prepare it very nicely so that my friend can eat. I’m in so much pain and I can’t walk,” he said and dragged himself to the corner of the hut. He lay down.

Soon, the meal was ready.

“Take the food to my friend to eat. Tell him I have a very bad fever and cannot join him,” the Hare said.

When she placed the steaming meal before the Rooster, Min Obuce said: “Your friend has a terrible fever that just started this afternoon.”

The Rooster enjoyed every bit of the meal. Later, he told Min Obuce that he needed to leave. “I have to go back to my home before night falls.”

She saw off his husband’s friend but along the way, the Rooster unveiled his leg that was all along hidden under his wing. He walked with pride while crowing kok kok kiliro kok; kok kok kiliro kok.

The Hare’s wife was shocked. “Ah! Rooster, so you didn’t cut off your leg? You mean you cooked another rooster for your friend to eat?”

She ran back home and informed her husband about the Rooster’s trickery. “The Rooster didn’t cut off his leg.  You went ahead and cut your leg without first establishing the truth.”

The Hare suffered with his wound until he died.

[Min Obuce = Mother of Obuce].

From this folktale, the Acoli coined the proverb, servile imitation killed the hare.

NOTE: The Ododo Series is a project launched in April 2020 to document and share Acoli folktales in English. These folktales were narrated to children by (grand)mothers in a fireplace setting in homesteads of the Acoli of Northern Uganda. Care has been taken to stick to the story-line as originally told in the Acoli language, but small variations are inevitable.


Edited by Caroline Ayugi

14 thoughts on “The Hare and the Rooster

  1. Very interesting… I love ododo and like listening to and telling them as well. I think the folklores apply to both Acholi of Uganda and South Sudan. So, if you may, if you don’t mind make that assumption on the basis that we share much of our culture.


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