"Let's race!" Rabbit said to Tortoise, and Tortoise agreed.
That night, Tortoise hid his friends in the bushes all along the track and at the starting-post. "All Tortoises look alike to Rabbit," he told them.
When the race started, Rabbit dashed ahead. Laughing, he glanced back and shouted, "Look at me, Tortoise!"
"No, look at me!" said a Tortoise, sticking his head out of the bushes in front of Rabbit.
Rabbit ran faster.
"Not fast enough!" said another Tortoise ahead of him.
When Rabbit reached the finish-line, there was Tortoise!
"You really do run fast," gasped Rabbit.
Tortoise just smiled.
[a San story from southern Africa]
Inspired by: "The Rabbit and the Tortoise" in The Tati Bushmen (Masarwas) and their Language (in Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland) by S. S. Dornan, 1917.
Notes: You can read the original story online. There is a version of the tortoise/substitutes racing the hare in this story from Uganda: Hare is Outwitted by Mrs. Tortoise.
Here's a 100-word version of the Aesopic version, where Rabbit loses because he takes a nap:
Tortoise Races Rabbit
"Let's race!" said Tortoise.
Rabbit replied, "You're kidding, right?"
"No!" shouted Tortoise. "We race at dawn!"
"Dawn's kind of early for me," Rabbit chuckled, "but I'll be there."
Dawn came, and the race began.
Rabbit quickly took the lead, running fast.
Tortoise plodded along, slowly, slowly.
Then Rabbit yawned. "I'm so far ahead! I think I'll take a nap."
So Rabbit napped, dreaming of victory.
But Tortoise did catch up, plodding along, slowly, slowly.
Then Tortoise passed Rabbit, and when Rabbit finally awoke, Tortoise had already crossed the finish line.
Moral of the story: Slow and steady wins the race.