Picture Books

<< back

Kilaka, John

Ubucuti bw’imbeba n’inzovu

The Friendship of Mouse and Elephant

Illustrated by Kilaka. Translated into Kinyarwanda by Agnes Gyr-Ukunda. Kigali, Rwanda: Editions Bakame, 2004. No pag.

Ages 3-6.

The mouse Ratsi is the only one in the forest who can make fire. Every day the animals come to him for some fire, and Ratsi never refuses any one. Elephant is Ratsi’s best friend and neighbour. During a famine, Elephant, who has not saved anything, offers to put Ratsi’s food in his house for safekeeping. When Ratsi comes to take his property, the elephant refuses to give it back.


Heartbroken at the behaviour of his best friend, he runs away into the forest. Elephant now loses his peace of mind and decides to look for his friend. At the same time, Ratsi returns home and takes back his food from Elephant’s house. When Elephant returns and finds that Ratsi is already back, he apologises. Ratsi forgives him but makes him promise never to be selfish again.

John Kilaka, an accomplished Tanzanian storyteller, originally wrote this story in Kiswahili. It was first published in German by Baobab, and then translated into Kinyarwanda. He has been drawing since he was a child and, as he says, every time he looked at people he would see animals and vice versa. In 2005, this picture book won the BolognaRagazzi New Horizons Award.

Picture Books


Editions Bakame