The mirror in the bushveld | Nal'ibali
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The mirror in the bushveld


By Melody Ngomane


Illustrations by Magriet Brink and Leo Daly

Listen to the story here

It was a hot day in the African savannah when Rabbit decided to walk down to the stream to drink some water. She was hopping along slowly in the heat along an open dusty path when she saw a mirror flashing in the sunlight. Rabbit had never seen a mirror before, so she wondered what the strange animal was. As she got closer, to her surprise, she saw the veld inside it and a little white rabbit just like herself looking back. Rabbit ran as fast as she could to call for help.

“Help! Somebody please help me!” she cried.

Jackal was resting in the shade of a big tree after hunting. When he heard Rabbit’s calls for help, he pretended he had not heard anything and hoped that other animals would help her because he was tired. But before he knew it, Rabbit ran towards where he was resting.

“Jackal, help! A monster, a monster!” cried the little white rabbit.

“A monster? Where?” asked Jackal, yawning.

“Down by the path on the way to the river. It has swallowed the whole veld and a little white rabbit like me,” sobbed Rabbit.

At first Jackal chased Rabbit away because he could not believe such a thing had happened. “If the monster has swallowed the veld, why are we here and not inside the monster?”

Rabbit could not answer that question, but she kept on asking for help. Jackal went to call Leopard so that all three of them could go together to see the strange monster.

Jackal and Leopard followed Rabbit to where the monster was. Slowly, they crept up to the mirror. When they got up close, they saw three animals looking at them. The animals inside the monster’s stomach looked just like them! They screamed in fright and ran down to the river to call Hippo.

“Hippo, please come and help us. A monster has swallowed the veld and three animals just like us!” said Jackal, talking as fast as possible.

Hippo didn’t pay much attention to them and continued to enjoy her swim because she thought the animals were trying to trick her. But when she saw how terrified they were, she got out of the water. Then Hippo, Leopard, Jackal and Rabbit rushed to the place where the mirror was.

When they got there, Rabbit and Jackal stayed behind because they were scared that the strange animal would swallow them too. Leopard and Hippo ran forward to attack the strange animal … but when they saw another hippo and leopard running towards them, they ran away screaming, “A monster! A monster!”

The four animals ran to find Lion and told him the story of the strange animal.

“It swallowed a rabbit, a jackal, a leopard and a hippo,” explained the animals, all talking at the same time. 

“It also swallowed the whole veld,” added Rabbit.

“And the animals in its stomach wanted to attack us!” said Hippo.

Lion had never heard of such a thing, so he immediately called his pride of lions together and they rushed off to attack the monster. Rabbit, Jackal, Leopard and Hippo followed closely behind.

On their way, they came across Monkey, who looked like he was searching for something. He jumped in front of Lion.

“Oh Lion, I am so glad to see you,” he said. “Please help me find my mirror. I think someone has stolen it.”

“Out of the way, Monkey. We have something more important to do. We are rushing to attack a monster that has swallowed animals and the veld,” said Lion impatiently.

The monkey moved out of the way but decided to follow the animals because he wanted to see what this monster looked like.

When the animals got near to where the mirror was, the lions, Hippo and Leopard stood still and prepared to attack. Then they ran towards the mirror! But when they saw a group of angry animals running towards them, they all scattered into the long grass. Then some of them lay flat on the ground, some hid behind bossies and some climbed into the trees.

When the monkey realised that what the animals were terrified of was his mirror, he burst out laughing. He ran to it and, looking at himself laughing, said, “I have been looking for you the whole day, my mirror.”

When the other animals saw Monkey in front of the strange animal and how friendly the monster was to him, they crept out from where they were hiding and started asking Monkey questions about the strange animal.

“This is a mirror, it’s not an animal. You look at yourself in it. See, that’s me in the mirror,” explained Monkey, holding up the mirror.

When the animals heard this, they all had a good laugh and spent a long time just looking at themselves in the mirror.