African Legends: The Visitor and the Hyenas

African Legends: The Visitor and the Hyenas

by Piet Korse mhm

The visitor and the hyenas

Once, a man paid a visit to a neighbouring village. When he arrived there, his friends welcomed him, chatted with him and gave him much food. On top of that, they gave him a lot of drink, which made him almost blind.

Around dawn, he begged to leave and asked his hosts to give him a long drum, so that, on the way home, he could drum in order not to feel lonely. However, he had become so drunk that he fell down and dropped off to sleep. The long drum fell on the ground next to him. He slept soundly and was not even aware that he was lying on the road.

In that village, people did not go for walks at night, because they feared the many hyenas, which used to roam around looking for food. That very night, the hyenas were moving all over the village. They came across the drunkard, who had failed to reach home. They sniffed at him and shook him; they shook him again in vain. First, they had a good laugh; then they lifted and carried him off. Others carried the long drum up to the cave where they stayed. On arrival, they immediately started discussing the day they would devour him. Some wanted to eat him immediately, while others wanted to eat him after his body would start going bad. Only then, the meat would be delicious. They eventually agreed to eat him later. Then, they picked up the tall drum of the drunk. They drummed whilst they sang

‘When shall we eat the man?
The man will be eaten when rotting.
When shall we eat the man?
The man will be eaten when rotting’.

Due to all that noise, the man suddenly woke up and clapped his hands, wondering what had happened to him. The hyenas continued singing while moving around him. That was when he realised that he was in the hyenas’ cave. He tried to rise but the hyenas restrained him. Therefore, he said to them, ‘I can’t run away, because I am already dead. Give me the tall drum and I will drum for you. I see you can dance well.’ They agreed to give him the drum. The man started drumming while he sang:

‘I do not want someone to drum:
while going downhill, while moving down,
while moving to the doorway,
while moving outside,
moving in front, I don’t want,
moving behind, I don’t want’.

The man drummed while confusing the hyenas. They even forgot to eat him. Eventually, after realising that the song pleased them, he started drumming whilst approaching the doorway; then he sneaked out and ran right up to his home.

I left him, when he had stopped drinking for good, because the drink he had taken during his visit had made him drop on the road.



A glass will cheer us up. However, in many regions of the world, drink has become a problem. People become addicted and spoil their marriage, their family, their health, their future, in short their whole life. By the addiction, they drop into a black hole. The greater the misery, the more people take to the bottle. By drinking people try to forget their problems. However, by the addiction their problems become even bigger.

What we say about alcohol addiction, is also good advice concerning other forms of addiction like the addiction to power, money, sex, gambling, smoking, chocolate and so on. Those addictions too drag us into a black hole from which we can only come out with the greatest difficulty. The fable of the dark cave is a splendid metaphor of what addictions do to us: we finish up in a black hole. We lose sight of our life. In addition, the nasty hyenas too are an image of what addictions do to us. They keep us in their merciless grip.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu