The Spider Which Bought a Dog As a Slave: A Hausa Folktale

Northern Nigeria (Hausa People)
General Location: Northern Nigeria (Hausa People)

This folktale of the Hausa people tells the story of the Spider, who bought a Dog as a slave and learned to regret it. 

One day the Spider went to the market and saw a Dog for sale. He went home and thrashed his guinea-corn, and said that he was going to buy a slave with it. So he brought the Dog home.

The Spider then bought a hoe, and gave it to the Dog, and told him to go and work on the farm; but the Dog only lay still and took no notice. The Spider seized the hoe and they went off to the forest, but when he told the dog to get up and work, the Dog only lay still, and said nothing. The Spider explained the limits of the day’s work, and said that when they had finished they would return home, but the Dog only lay still and said nothing.

Eventually, the Spider himself began digging, and said that as the Dog was panting hard he must be tired, so he could lie down.

As the Dog was lying there, a Hare passed by, and the Dog ran off and caught it. Then the Spider said, “My slave is a hunter, and he who can kill with his teeth, will do better with an arrow.” He took the Dog’s hoe, and brought it to the Monkey, the smith, and told him to make arrowheads out of it, so that he could give them to the Dog.

The Spider often went to the Monkey’s forge, asking if the arrow-heads would be finished that day. One day the Monkey said to the Spider, “Have you obtained a slave?” And he replied, “Yes, it is for him that I want the arrow-heads, so that he may enjoy the chase.” Then the Spider said that he would bring the Dog, but the Monkey asked him not to.

The Spider kept visiting the Monkey, now frequently complaining that the arrowheads were not being done quickly. At last he became angry, and brought the Dog.

The Dog, when he saw the Monkey, began stalking him, and when they had come close the Monkey ran away, and the Dog ran after him and caught him. As he was bringing the Monkey back, the Spider shouted, “Let him go, it is the smith, do not seize him,” and then (being afraid that he too would be seized) he fled.

The Spider ran on past his house, not stopping to go inside, and called out to his wife, “Get up, and run away, the Dog is seizing people and eating them.”

Now, as they had run away, they had left the house with no one to claim it except the Dog, so he took it for his own, and the Spider and his wife disappeared into the forest.

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