190. The Hyena’s Prophecy

Hearing his wife was in labor, a man ran home.
A hyena by the roadside shouted, “A boy is born; a buffalo will kill him!”
Seeing the baby was indeed a boy, the father worried about the hyena’s prophecy, but told no one.
Years later, while tending their flocks, they saw a buffalo.
“I’ll kill it!” the son shouted.
“No!” shouted the father. “I must do this.”
He killed the buffalo and then exclaimed with relief, “So much for the hyena’s prophecy!”
Running up to congratulate his father, the boy tripped and fell on the buffalo’s horns, which killed him.

[a Nandi story from Kenya]

Inspired by: "The Hyena's Prophecy" in The Nandi, their language and folk-lore by Alfred C. Hollis, 1909.
Notes: You can read the original story online. In the original story, the man has twin children: a boy and a girl; they hyena says the boy will be killed by a buffalo and the girl will die in childbirth. The father forgets about the hyena's prophecy, but when his girl grows up, gets married, and dies in childbirth; then he remembers the prophecy and takes special care of his son. That was too much for me to do in 100 words, so I left the part about the girl out and focused on the father's inability to save his son. Also, there are three hyenas in the story: two come to the mother's hut, and then the third makes the prophecy which the man happens to overhear.

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