Three Animals Who Made Ku
Leopard, Man and Dog one day made Ku; that is they agreed to work together to cut and plant a common farm. Leopard said:
“We will not eat rotten meat in our Ku. The meat which is fresh and has no maggots, that we will eat.”
They worked in the forest cutting their farm and became hungry. Man and Dog showed Leopard the day when he should hunt and pay his ku. Leopard went into the forest and killed a bush hog. He brought the bush hog to Man and Dog saying:
“My people, come here. Come and cut the little meat I have caught and eat it with cassava.”
The three ku members made a fire and cooked the meat in a big pot. They all ate. Man and Dog went back to the forest to cut farm, and Leopard continued to hunt. He killed two red deer and one black one. He brought them back and showed them to Man and Dog.
“My people,” he said, “here is a thing for you.” They cooked and ate the meat, and the three ku members went into the forest to cut the farm. When they were hungry again, Dog said:
“Leopard, let us show Man a day to pay his ku.”
“No,” said Man. “Not yet.”
Man and Leopard showed Dog a day to pay his ku. Man said:
“As for me, I will set my trap when my time comes. I cannot catch meat bare-handed.”
Leopard said: “What you say is true.”
They showed Dog two day, and Dog went to hunt. Man and Leopard went to cut farm. Dog hunted in the forest and killed a red deer, and brought it to Man and Leopard.
“My ku people,” he said, “here is something to go with your boiled cassava.”
Leopard knew Dog, so he went and scratched the meat on the head. “It is still fresh.” They roasted and ate the deer with cassava. Man and Leopard went back to cut farm and Dog hunted again. He killed one black deer and a bush hog, and brought them back. “Here is another something to eat,” he said. Leopard saw that it was fresh meat. They cooked the meat with rice and ate, and all three went to cut farm. When hunger came again, Dog said:
“Man, you have two days to pay your ku.”
“No, the days you have shown me are short. Show me four.”
Dog said no, but Leopard gave man three.
“Brother Leopard,” said Dog, “you are the big member of the ku, let it be as you say.’
They gave man three days. Man said: “Fine. My hand is under it (I agree).”
Man set his trap in the forest but no meat came. The first day passed. The second day passed, and he grew worried, for he had not paid his ku. He went for a walk in the forest and began cutting palm nuts. An old lady heard him there and said:
“Who is that cutting nuts?”
“It is I.”
“What are you doing there?”
“I am cutting nuts.”
“Come here.” Man went there. “Cut the grass around my kitchen.”
“Old woman,” said Man, “I am in ku with Leopard and Dog. In this ku we cannot eat rotten meat. They showed me three days to pay ku-meat, and two have gone, so I must catch meat in my trap today. What time do I have to cut grass around your kitchen? What time do I have to set my traps?”
She said: “Cut the grass. A person doesn’t ever know what can bless him.”
He cut the grass and cleaned about the kitchen, but then it was too late to set his trap. The old lady came and said:
“You have done well for me, and now I will do well for you, bring two pots from my left, and rice, and the little meat you find there.”
Man did this. He cooked the food and they ate. The old woman took a horn from a small bag.
“There is black powder in this horn. As soon as you go into the forest you will see a black deer. Show him the horn and wish him dead, and he will be dead.”
Man thanked her. He went into the forest, saw a black deer and showed it the horn of black powder. “I kill you,” he said, and the deer fell dead. Man gave the black deer to the old woman, and went away with the horn to hunt for his ku.
Back at the farm Dog was saying to Leopard:
“Let us catch man and eat him. He cannot catch meat for his ku.”
Man came. Dog mocked him, and said he would be eaten because he could catch no meat.
“I bring a bush hog,” Man said. “Also two black deer, and three red deer. This can be our ku-meat for today.”
“Is what you say true?” asked Dog.
“What I say is true,” said man. “Let us eat.”
They went to the meat, and Leopard scratched the heads. “The meat is good.” They cooked and ate. Man went into the forest and returned with four more deer. The ku ate again. That evening Dog said:
“Let us go to a secret place where we can talk ku business, and hang heads together.”
They went to a secret place.
“The things which killed the meat,” Dog said. “Let us show them to each other.”
Leopard scratched a tree with his claws. “That is what killed my meat,” he said.
Dog bit the tree with his teeth. “That is what killed my meat.”
Man said: “Leopard, the thing I have is bad.”
“Show it to us,” said Leopard, “so that we may know.”
“We will kill you if you don’t.”
“Then I will show it.” Man showed his horn of black powder to Leopard and said, “Leopard, I kill you.” Leopard fell down dead and stayed there. Dog was afraid. He stood up wagging his tail and begging Man.
“Because you asked me to show you the thing that killed my meat,” said Man, “and I showed it to Leopard and he fell down and died, is that why you beg me?”
“I beg you, my good friend, do not kill me!”
“I will not kill you. You eat your own thing. We will go into town.”
Dog and Man went to town. Dog wags his tail when he greets people because of that day long ago.