The jackal and the wolf by James A. Honey (1910)

When publishing Hyena and the Hare: A story told by Maria Samson_ Malawi I remembered a story I once read in the book “SOUTH-AFRICAN FOLK-TALES” BY JAMES A. HONEŸ, M.D. called THE JACKAL AND THE WOLF.

HONEŸ published his book back in 1910. More than 100 years and more than 2500 kilometers apart, the similarities between his story and my recordings are still visible.

While the more modern version of Maria Samson features considerably more violance (hyena dead instead of being thrashed within an inch of his life), elements of cannibalism and even more treachery by the hare (tricking not only the hyena, but also his wife), HONEŸ’s story gives us some insight into why jackal is seeking revenge (wolf eating more than his share).

By the way, don’t get confused with the characters:

Hare or jackal. We frequently see these two characters being attributed with the same characteristics. Which of them is used depends on where the story is being told. Let’s skip the details here, since the attributes of characters

Wolf or hyena. “The natural distribution of wolves never reached as far south as to the southern tip of this continent. Here, their ecological niche is occupied by the African wild dog, which is incidentally also known as the “African painted wolf”. It is only distantly related to the wolves of the northern hemisphere, however.” (see
Probably HONEŸ wanted to make the stories more appealing the western readers, since the wolf is a well-known character in European folk tales while the hyena was probably barely known in 1910.

Now, without further ado:


Once on a time Jackal, who lived on the borders of the colony, saw a wagon returning from the seaside laden with fish; he tried to get into the wagon from behind, but he could not; he then ran on before and lay in the road as if dead. The wagon came up to him, and the leader cried to the driver, “Here is a fine kaross for your wife!”

“Throw it into the wagon,” said the driver, and Jackal was thrown in.

The wagon traveled on, through a moonlight night, and all the while Jackal was throwing out the fish into the road; he then jumped out himself and secured a great prize. But stupid old Wolf (hyena), coming by, ate more than his share, for which Jackal owed him a grudge, and he said to him, “You can get plenty of fish too, if you lie in the way of a wagon as I did, and keep quite still whatever happens.”

“So!” mumbled Wolf.

Accordingly, when the next wagon came from the sea, Wolf stretched himself out in the road. “What ugly thing is this?” cried the leader, and kicked Wolf. He then took a stick and thrashed him within an inch of his life. Wolf, according to the directions of Jackal, lay quiet as long as he could; he then got up and hobbled off to tell his misfortune to Jackal, who pretended to comfort him.

“What a pity,” said Wolf, “I have not got such a handsome skin as you have!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.