This is the page where you can read nice wild tales which are told from grand mother to mother to her child. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the tales.
Nice stories and fairytales about the wild life in Africa. Click on the tab to open the story.
This is the page where you can read nice wild tales which are told from grand mother to mother to her child. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the tales.
Nice stories and fairytales about the wild life in Africa. Click on the tab to open the story.
Long ago there lived a very poor man. For years he lived with very little, and eventually he became tired of this poverty. At last he went to see this witch-Doctor to ask him for help. “Go and see Invonya-ngia”, he advised, “he that feeds the poor”.
When he reached Invonya-ngia, he asked, “please tell me how I can become rich”. Invonya-ngia told his herdsmen, “give this man 100 cows, 200 sheep and 300 goats”. “No, no, no”, said the poor man, “I don’t want any charity, I only want advise on how to become rich”. The rich man thought for a while and then gave the poor man some ointment. “This is magic ointment. You must rub it on your wife’s pointed teeth. Wait for them to grow, then take them out and sell them”.
The man did as he was told, and within a few weeks, his wife’s teeth had grown as long as arms. He took them out, and he sold them for they were pure Ivory. This he did several times and in this way he became very rich. A jealous neighbor came to ask him how he’d become so wealthy? and he gave the same advice, “Go and see Invonya-ngia”. Soon the neighbor was rubbing the magic ointment on his wife’s teeth. They grew and grew. Unfortunately, the man had not been told to take the tusks out and sell them.
Eventually the woman’s face grew strange, her body swelled to an enormous size until she turned into an elephant. Finally she burst through their little hut and ran off into the bush. There she gave birth to a son who was a baby elephant, and there they remained.
And that was the origin of the elephant, who are still as clever as people.
Kamba Folklore from Kenya
Once upon a time, in the distant past, there was a great war between the animals who live in the sky and those that live on the ground. Nobody now remembers how the war started or what it was about, but it was a terrible time. Many animals on both sides were wounded or killed, and eventually somebody said that if they carried on like this, there would be no animals left on the earth.
So some of the sky animals and some of the ground animals had a meeting, and as nobody could recall what they were fighting each other for, it was agreed that a truce should be called, and peace declared. For the sky dwellers, the heron was appointed to make the announcements, and for the ground animals, the hare would do this job, as he was able to get around the area very quickly.
This was done the next morning, but as all animals settled down, realising they could now live in peace and rebuild their lives, some body found the body of Mr Bat. He was the last victim of the war, and must have been killed late the previous day. All the flying animals were very upset, and the decided to organise a big burial for their friend. But as they were preparing his body for the funeral, one of the birds noticed that Mr Bat had teeth in his mouth. How was that possible? Flying animals don’t have teeth.
They called a meeting, and they agreed that Bat can’t be one of them, as no other bird has teeth in his mouth. So they took bat’s body to the ground animals, and told them that as Mr Bat was not a bird, it was their responsibility to give him a decent burial.
The ground animals agreed to accept the body, but then, as they were preparing for the burial, one of them shouted: “Wait a minute, this bat may have teeth, but he definitely also has wings! How can he be one of us if he has wings?”
So now the ground animals had a meeting to consider the problem, and they decided that no ground animal can have wings, so therefore, Mr Bat can’t be regarded as one of them. So they too, refused to bury Mr Bat.
Poor Mr Bat, the flying animals refused to accept him because he has teeth, and the ground animals refused to accept him because he has wings. And that is why the bat is still flying around every night.
Once upon a time a hyena was out foraging in the bush. It was a fine sunny day and he was looking forward to catching some morsels to eat. But as he was sniffing around, he fell into a hidden trap set by a hunter. He found himself at the bottom of a hole, with the trap catch closed over him. He tried to push it open but it just would not budge. It was rather well made. So he started shouting: “Help! Help! Somebody get me out of here please.
A lion passed by, looked to see who was in the trap. When he saw it was hyena, he just moved on. Help me, let me out of here, please!”, hyena shouted, but the lion closed his ears. You should know that most animals did not like hyena very much. He was always stealing food belonging to other animals and laughing at them behind their backs. So it was no surprise the lion moved on. So the day passed, but every time an animal passed by the trap, however much hyena begged and promised to be nice to them in future, none stopped to help him.
At last monkey came by. “Help me please, monkey, get me out of this trap. I’ve been here all day and the hunter will be back soon and he will surely kill me! Help me please!” “Well now”, monkey said, “That’s all very well. I would help you, but as soon as I pull you out of there, you will only kill me.” Hyena protested, “monkey, I promise I will be good, I will not touch a hair on your head. If you let me out I will go straight home. I promise!” Now this monkey was very kind, so he agreed to help hyena.
He removed the trap and threw down a branch so hyena could pull himself out of the trap. But then as soon as he was out, hyena realised he’s been in this trap all day long and had not eaten anything, at all! So, instead of going home, as he had promised, hyena attacked the kind monkey.
Just then an eagle was flying over the bush, and saw the hyena attacking monkey. So he swooped down, landed on the hyena’s back, and with his powerful claws pulled the animal of poor monkey, who was screeching in pain.
After he’d separated the two, hyena wanted to know what was going on. Monkey explained what had happened: that he had helped hyena escape from the trap because he had promised not to attack him! Eagle said: “In order for me to understand exactly how this happened, I would like you to show me exactly what you two were doing. So, Mr Hyena, you get back into the trap, and then we will start again.” Hyena realised he did not have much choice but to do as he was told, so he jumped back into the trap.
Eagle the covered it again with the trap, and made sure it was secure. “Now, Mr Hyena”, said eagle, “you can stay there and die, for all I care. You don’t deserve the kindness of other animals if you cannot keep a simple promise”. With that, he advised the monkey to go home to his family, and he himself flew off to continue his journey, leaving the hyena to his fate.
Found among the papers of John Fumey, my deceased father in law, in Madina, Accra.
The “Big 5” originated as an old hunting term that included the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and black rhino. It was used to describe the most prestigious and dangerous animals to hunt. They were all ruthlessly hunted to extinction in most areas and decimated in others. A century ago however, the first national parks were established in South Africa and here their numbers have now increased to former levels. Fortunately this catchy term is now commonly used in eco-tourism to describe the most popular safari animals.
In South Africa the big five generally occur only in, or close to, protected areas. The leopard is an exception to this and still occurs in viable populations in some of the more remote parts of the country. The big cats are undeniably glamorous creatures, with the lion number one on the checklist of most tourist.
The elephant is the most conspicuous of the big 5 and these fascinating yet intimidating beast offer some of the best mammal watching anyone could wish for. Black rhinos are far less common than their larger and more docile white cousins, and strictly speaking the latter is not a member of the big 5.
There was one place in the savanna which the animals liked very much. There was good water and green grass there. But a strong lion lived there. He killed two or three animals every day.
One day the animals came to the Lion, and one of them began to speak: “Oh, dear Lion, it is not good for you to run and hunt all day long in the savannas. We’ll send you one animal for your dinner every day.” “All right,” the Lion said, “but you must begin to send me my dinner now: I am hungry. I must have my dinner every day! If you don’t send an animal to me every day, I shall kill as many of you as I want!” “Don’t kill us, dear Lion. We shall send you an animal every day.” But the animals were not happy. Each of them thought: “Oh, tomorrow my turn will come!”
One day it was a Hare’s turn to be the Lion’s dinner. But the Hare was not unhappy. He smiled! “That’s good, very good!” the Hare said. “Don’t be afraid! The Lion will not eat me!” The Hare ran to the river, jumped into the water and then began to roll in the mud. He came to the Lion very dirty. The Lion saw him and became angry. “But I don’t want that dirty animal for my dinner,” he cried.
“Oh, dear Lion, I am not your dinner. I had to bring you a big hare. But on my way I met another lion, and he took the hare for himself.” “Is there another lion in the savannas?” asked the Lion. “Yes, there is. He is big and strong. I think he is stronger than you are.” The Lion became angrier than before and said to the Hare, “Show me that lion!” “All right!” said the Hare. “Let us go to him.” And they went to a big well. The Hare looked into the well and said, “Look, he is there, and the Hare is with him.”
The Lion looked into the well. He saw himself and the Hare in the water. He jumped into the well to catch them and-never came back!
The animals were happy, they jumped and danced and thanked the clever Hare.
In days long ago, when animals could talk, Elephant used to tease Rhino about his nearsightedness and bad temper (which was not very fair, since Elephant himself has not got the world’s best eyesight, nor is he the best most sweet-tempered of Africa’s characters).
Anyway, Elephant was teasing Rhino and sure enough, after a while Rhino could not help himself and he lost his temper. He challenged Elephant to a contest. Rhino was quite sure he could win, and so prove that he was better than Elephant in at least one way. The contest was to see who could produce the largest dungheap. Now both animals are large, they both eat vast quantities of vegetation each day and of course they both make a lot of dung.
But Rhino made by far the largest heap, as old Elephant soon found out.
Rhino’s pride at beating Elephant was short-lived. However, Elephant was a poor loser, and he flew into a jealous rage that was far worse than anything even Rhino had been known to have. In his fury, he attacked Rhino and beat him savagely with his trunk, goring him with his tusks untill Rhino begged for mercy. “Oh Elephant,” pleaded Rhino, “Stop! I was mistaken. You are the greatest of all creatures. You win. Just stop!”
Poor Rhino lay on his back in the dust walling in fear. Gradually, Elephant’s great fury began to wear off, and he made Rhino beg and plead and promise never again to challenge the might of the Lord of the Beasts, namely himself, Elephant. At last he was satisfied and let poor Rhino escape.
Rhino never forgot that dreadful beating, and he is afraid he may receive another one, so he makes sure that his dung-heaps always look smaller than that of Elephant. And this is why he kicks at it, scattering IT until IT is quite flat.
Once upon a time there was a chief in a village near the bush. This man had many sons, and one of them was the best hunter in the whole land. Whenever he went out hunting, he always managed to bring back much more meat than any of the other hunters in the village. But this hunter did not just like to provide meat for the villagers, he enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, stalking his prey and outsmarting it, and killing animals for fun.
The chief often reprimanded his son, because he knew that the spirits of the forest and the ancestors did not approve of killing for fun or sport. But all his exhortations fell on deaf ears. His son’s behaviour never changed.
As for the animals, they were both afraid of and angry with this hunter, and they called a meeting of all the bush animals to discuss if there was not some way to could stop this man. Some suggested setting traps to catch him, but everybody agreed that this hunter was too clever to fall into a trap, he would surely spot it from afar. Then the lion suggested that one of them should change into the shape of a young woman, in order to seduce the hunter. Then he could be lured into the bush and killed.
It was decided that the lion’s wife should be the one to do this job.
The next morning, the chief’s son was getting ready to set out for the bush, he was gathering his weapons, his spear, his bow and arrows, and a machete, when his father approached him. “Son”, said the chief, “Please stay home today. I had a dream last night that you went into the bush and got killed by a wild lion! Stay home today, please!” But the son brushed aside his father’s concerns, “Pah! Pah! Don’t worry, old man, I can take care of myself. Any beast that tries to kill me will get off the worst, I promise you”. And with that he set off, chuckling to himself.
He had a good day in the bush, and had already killed as much meat as he could carry, so he decided to call it a day and make his way back home. Then to his surprise he saw a beautiful young girl approach him. Beautiful young girls do not usually come this far into the bush, so he called out to her: “Sister, what are you doing here in the bush? I can see you are not from our village”. She smiled at him, “I heard about you”, she said, “I heard that there is a hunter who is smarter and stronger than anyone. So I decided to look for you, and here you are!”
“I am just on my way home”, said the hunter, “why don’t you come with me to my village, and we will eat and drink something together”. She agreed, so he took her back to the village and his father’s compound. The chief thought it a bit odd that this young woman had been walking around the bush all by herself, but he was so happy that his son had returned home, and had not been killed by a lion as his dream predicted, that he did not question her at all.
The son, in the meantime, was falling head over heels in love with this strange young woman, and before the night was out, he asked her to be his wife. She laughed, and told him that she would be very happy to be his wife, but she would have to ask her father’s permission first. So they agreed that the next morning, they would set off early and visit her father.
So the next morning, after eating some fruit and porridge, they were read to set off. The hunter was gathering his weapons, but the girl asked him to leave them behind, as she explained it would be rude to turn up at her father’s house so heavily armed. The hunter agreed to this, so they set off walking through the bush. When they had gone some distance from the village, the girl changed herself back into her natural lion shape, and attacked the hunter, who, having no weapons, was unable to defend himself.
That evening, while the chief sat outside his hut waiting in vain for his son’s return, the animals celebrated.
Warthog was a proud little creature. He had built himself a spacious home in an old anthill with a very wide entrance. So proud was he, that he would stand in his entrance with his nose in the air snorting when other animals walked by.
“Snort, snort I have the best home in all of Africa!” he would brag. One day as he was standing haughtily in his entrance, he noticed a movement in the high grass, and before he could run, a fierce lion pounced right up to him. Now there was no point in retreating into his barrow, because with this very wide entrance, the lion would simply follow him down.
“Bhubesi is going to make a meal of me right here in my own home!” he yelped to himself with horror.
Just then he thought of a clever trick he’d learned from Jackal, and quickly pretended to be holding up the roof of his barrow. “Help!” he yelled to the lion, “My roof is going to fall, run Mighty Bhubesi (lion) or you will also be crushed with me!”.
Now the lion, who had recently fallen for the very same trick, took just a moment to realise what the Warthog was up to. The lion roared a furious roar, which terrified the poor Warthog so that he dropped to his knees and buried his face in the sand. “Please oh please Mighty Bhubesi, do not eat me, I’ll do anything to make you happy!”.
The lion sneered at the pathetic creature whose bum was raised to the sky, “You shall stay on your knees, your snout in the dirt with your bottom in the air. And if I see otherwise, I’ll be sure to make a meal of you!”. And for fear of the lion’s threat, the Warthog obey his command to this day.
Traditional Zulu Folklore
The grass shrivelled up and turned a pale grey. Rivers and pools dried up. All day long animals scurried around looking for food and finding nothing. Mr Tortoise was getting desperate. Every day he woke up to the sound of his wife and children crying. One day, while he was wandering the countryside looking for food he knew he wouldn’t find, he noticed a flock of birds flying overhead and disappearing on the other side of the mountain range.
The next day, he saw more birds flying in that direction and disappearing over the mountain range. And again the next day. It occurred to him they might be onto something, and he tried to attract their attention. He shouted, he screamed, he danced, he jumped up and down, he shouted while jumping up and down, he ran in circles and waved a stick. None of the birds paid any attention to him; none even slowed down.
Many animals would have given up, but not Mr Tortoise. He decided he would compose a song to the vulture; he thought the vulture might just be vain enough to stop and listen. That night he finished composing the song and the next morning positioned himself in a nice open spot by the side of a field. When he saw the first birds in the sky he started to sing his song:
The vulture is so good
The vulture is so wise
Everyone admires him
As he flies through the skie-ie-ie-ie-ies
The vulture heard snatches of the song, and he was intrigued, so he came down to land and strode over majestically to where Mr Tortoise was sitting. When Mr Tortoise saw vulture approaching, he sang again:
The vulture is so good
The vulture is so wise
Everyone admires him
As he flies through the skie-ie-ie-ie-ies
Aaaah, the vulture exclaimed, what a beautiful voice! What enticing music! Mr Tortoise thanked him profusely for his praise, then asked very politely if he could ask a favour of Mr Vulture. Certainly, the vulture beamed, go ahead my lyrical friend!
Tortoise explained that because of the drought, there was no food left where they were living, if Mr Vulture could only give him a lift to the other side of the mountain, so that he could look after his family. Vulture readily agreed to help his new friend. He raised himself and flapped his wings. Just hang on to my waist, Mr Tortoise, and we’ll be there in no time at all.
Mr Tortoise grabbed hold of Vulture’s scraggy feathers. Vulture flapped his giant wings, took a few great strides, and up they went. Vulture had been quite right, it seemed to take hardly any time at all and they were floating over the mountains, and Tortoise could see a glimmer of green appearing below.
A few more flaps of those giant wings, and they were landing in the middle of a truly amazing landscape. The place was covered in trees and bushes carrying every fruit imaginable, mangos, bananas, pears, oranges, apples, pineapple, papaya, plums, you name it, it grew here in abundance.
Tortoise walked around in a daze, he picked an apple here, tasted some mango there, found some blackberries on a small bush. The most remarkable thing was that apart from the birds who must have discovered this pleasure paradise flying over it, there seemed to be no other animals here at all! This set our Mr Tortoise thinking.
Now you may have realised already that Mr Tortoise was not just any old tortoise, but that he had a very good brain, and a great imagination. So, slowly but surely, he hatched a plan. The next morning he found a spot on the hillside. This gave him a good view of the orchard, he stood upright and started speaking in as loud a voice as he could muster:
Yo! Yo! All you birds, listen to me for a few moments! Yo! Yo! I have bad news for you all! I’m afraid you’re all trespassing here on this land. This land belonged to my great great grandfather. When he died he gave it to my grandfather. And my grandfather left it to my daddy, and my daddy, well now, my daddy he gave it to me before he died.
There was consternation among the birds, they weren’t sure how to take this news. Then Mr Tortoise carried on: I’m going to count to three, and at the count of three, I want all of you to have left this place.
Hey, Mr Tortoise, you’re joking aren’t you?
Is he joking?
No, man, he’s not joking!
Some of the birds started flying. We thought you were joking! We never intended to trespass, after all, we’re all just law abiding citizens, you know. More and more birds flew off.
Now they were all leaving. Mr Tortoise looked for his friend, Vulture. When he saw him, he ran up to him and called out: Heyo, Vulture, hold on, you’re my friend aren’t you, you can stay here with me. After feasting on the fruit for several hours, Mr Tortoise had another idea. He really wanted to find out exactly what he had here. So he approached Vulture and said: Vulture, you’re going to carry me high into the sky! Then I will know how big my own land is, and I will see how useful it will be.
Vulture replied: Yessirr! Hang on to my waist. So Mr Tortoise clung on to Vulture’s waist. Vulture flapped his wings, gently at first, and up and up and up he went.
It was very breezy so high up in the sky, and Mr Tortoise was enjoying himself. Whoa, whoa, he shouted, this is wonderful, I’m enjoying this breeze, it’s just beautiful!. Then, in his excitement he started scratching Vulture’s armpits; that was not such a wise thing to do. Please, screeched Vulture, I am ticklish, do-do-do-don’t do that PLEEEEASE, Stop it, please, I’m sooooo ticklish!
Unfortunately Tortoise wouldn’t stop. In desperation Vulture shook his wings so violently that Mr Tortoise lost his grip. He went down and down and down and down and down, and there was nothing at all to stop him. It was Mr Tortoise’s rather bad fortune to land in a place that was covered in hard jagged rocks, there was an enormous crashing sound when he made contact with he rocks. Cracks appeared all over the body of Mr Tortoise.
He tried to shout for help, but his voice only made a very small sound. Luckily for Mr Tortoise Vulture saw him lying there, his body all cracked up, and felt sorry for him. So Vulture decided to get the ambulance, and they managed to get him to a hospital. Because he was in such a bad way and looked as if he could die any minute. There and then, Mr Tortoise was taken straight into the operating theatre and three doctors started work on him. They worked for hours on end, stitching, stitching, stitching all the cracks in his shell.
Eventually all the sores healed and he was discharged, but of course he was left with the scars, and that is why every time you see a tortoise you can still see the scars on the back of his shell.
A very hungry hyena went out on the African veld to hunt for food. After a while he came across a fork in the road. At the end of the one he noticed that there was a goat caught in the thorny bush, and at the end of the other road there was also a goat trapped in a thorny bush. The hyena could not believe his luck.
But now, which goat was he to go for?
At last he decided that he would have both. The greedy hyena decided that the right leg should follow the right road, and the left leg should follow the left road. And so he set off, right leg on the right road, and the left one on the left road.
As the two roads grew wider apart in the opposite direction, he continued to follow them both stretching his legs as wide as he could.
Finally he split clean in two. And so the proverb goes, two roads overcome the hyena.
Jackal was a cunning little creature, who had often saved his hide by using his extraordinary wit. One day, jackal was scampering trough a rocky krantz, keeping his nose to the ground for even the slightest scents of food.
The hot African sun was beating down and the jackal knew that most creatures would be hiding in the coolness of some shade, but perhaps he could sniff out a lizard or two. All of a sudden he noticed a movement just in front of him. Jackal froze, his instincts indicating all too surely that danger lay ahead. He was right, the mighty frame of lion came ambling towards him.
His heart beat so fast that it felt like it had jumped into his throat. So many times had he tricked the great Bhubesi that he felt surely the day of lion’s revenge had arrived. Jackal’s body was almost ready to submit to his dreadful fate, but his cunning mind leapt into action.
He crouched down on the path his paws covering his head, and looked up with terror at the overhanging rocks, ” Help, oh help!” The lion stopped dead in his tracks. The jackal continued in a feverous pitch, “The rocks are about to fall, we are about to be crushed. Oh, great Bhubesi, only you can save us for you are the Mighty One!”
The lion looked panicked and the jackal continued his plea, ” Hold up the rocks with your powerful torso, for only you have the strength to hold them!” With that said, the lion heaved his robust body against the rocks and heaved with all his might. The jackal leapt up, “Oh you brave and mighty Bhubesi, thank you! Now I will go to search of a log to prop these up, and we will both be saved!” And with that, the jackal pranced off down the rocky pass.
Lion heaved and pushed the heavy rocks for hours, until finally his limbs could struggle no more. When he gave up hope of surviving, he slid pathetically to the floor. In a daze he looked up, and realised that once again, jackal had tricked him and lived to see another day in Africa.
The rainy season had been very fierce one year and the rivers had overflowed. The flooding grew worse and worse as the waters raged higher and higher. The animals tried to run as fast as they could to the higher ground, but many were too late and drowned in the turbulent waters. The monkeys of course were lucky, for they knew how to climb easily into the tall treetops. They looked down on the surface of the water where the fish were swimming and gracefully jumping out of the water as if they were the only ones enjoying the devastating flood.
One of the monkeys saw the fish and shouted to his companion: “Look down, my friend, look at those poor creatures. They are going to drown. Do you see how they struggle in the water?” “Yes,” said the other monkey. “What a pity! Probably they were late in escaping to the hills because they seem to have no legs. How can we save them?” “I think we must do something. Let’s go close to the edge of the flood where the water is not deep enough to cover us, and we can help them to get out.”
So the monkeys did just that. They started catching the fish, but not without difficulty. One by one, they brought them out of the water and put them carefully on the dry land. After a short time there was a pile of fish lying on the grass motionless. One of the monkeys said, “Do you see? They were tired, but now they are just sleeping and resting. Had it not been for us, my friend, all these poor creatures without legs would have drowned.”
The other monkey said: “They were trying to escape from us because they could not understand our good intentions. But when they wake up they will be so grateful to us for saving their lives.”
(East African Folklore)
In the first days of the earth, God created man. God thought that man should have a friend who was strong and also clever, so he created elephant.
He placed the 2 friends in a beautiful garden. The garden was lush with trees laden with the juiciest fruit. There were fragrant and brightly coloured flowers on the ground, and a sparkling river with pure water for man and elephant to drink from. God walked in this garden with the two friends everyday and they were all very happy.
One day, the elephant was playing in the water, and he learned that he could stir up the riverbed with his trunk. The water became muddy and the elephant thought that this was great fun. When the man saw the muddy water he became very angry and shouted at the elephant. When God saw the muddy water, he too warned the elephant not to play his silly game. But the elephant did not heed the warnings and continued to play his fun, splashy, muddy game.
When the man saw what he was still doing, he could not contain his anger. He picked up a heavy rock from the river and threw it at the elephant. The rock struck the elephants head, and he died instantly. When God saw what man had done, he was very angry. He threw man out of the garden and into a hot dry land where he have to search for water.
To this day the Borana descendants in Ethiopia, live in drought-stricken lands, never ceasing their search for water. God put the elephant back onto earth, and the never cease to play their fun, muddy games in the rivers.
Many, many years ago, a wicked and lazy hunter sat under the shade of a Marula tree. Not far from him grazed a herd of buck, but he groaned to himself.
“The sun is too hot and I am too tired to hunt for food. If only I could get the meat without working too hard”. Suddenly he noticed a movement in the longer grass. It was a female cheetah who had stealthily approached a foolish buck that had wandered off from the herd. She sprang forward and like lightening, she brought the buck down.
The other in the herd fled while the cheetah quickly killed her prey. She then dragged it under a large shady tree, where three precious cheetah cubs waited hungrily. All the while, the wicked hunter watched this, thinking enviously that he too should have a meal brought to him under his tree, without having to hunt himself. Just then he concocted an evil plan. If he could train a cheetah to hunt for him, he could laze under the tree all day long!
He waited until the sun sank low and orange in the sky, when the mother cheetah would go off alone to the watering hole. Then he set off the find her cubs, who were too young to be frightened by him. He found them, hidden by their mother under a bush. Looking at all the three of the fine young animals, the greedy hunter thought to himself, “why not take all three? Surely then I’ll always have plenty of meat and I’ll never have to lift my spear again.” And with that, he scooped up all three little cubs into his arms and ran back to his village to hide them.
When the mother cheetah returned, her cubs were gone. So deep was her sorrow that she cried and cried for days, until the tears stained dark lines down her cheeks. She cried so loud, that she was eventually heard by a wise old man who knew the way of animals. When he realized what the wicked hunter had done, he returned immediately to the village to tell the elders what had happened. The way of their people was clear. A hunter must only use his own strength and skill to hunt for food. So they drove the lazy hunter from the village in dishonour.
The three young cubs were returned to their grateful mother, but the stains on het cheeks remained forever. Today the tearstained cheeks of a cheetah remind the hunter of the dishonour and encourage them to be proud traditional hunters.
One day long ago, a very big, very fierce baboon came down from the trees to live on the banks of the great Umfolozi River. Here he made his home and declared to all the other animals that the land all around belonged to him, and they were not to use the water in the river. He alone was allowed to drink. There was one among the animals who decided to stand up to the fearful baboon. This was a proud young zebra stallion, Dube.
In those days, zebras were pure white, like the fabled unicorn. Now Dube was brave, and he challenged Baboon to a fight. Baboon, a fierce veteran of many, agreed. He knew all about fighting. “The loser of the fight,” he said, “is banished forever to the barren koppie across the river.” And he told Zebra to come to his kraal the next morning.
The fight was long and terrible. Both animals fought with all their strength, using weapons the creator had given them. Dube used his sharp hooves and teeth. Baboon used his long fangs and agility.
Eventually Baboon gained the upper hand, and poor Dube was thrown backwards into the blazing logs of the kraal fire. The cruel flames licked all over his body, searing his white coat. The dreadful pain gave Dube a surge of new strength, and with a mighty kick he sent Baboon flying. Over the river sailed Baboon, right onto the rocks of the koppie on the other side. Baboon landed with such force that a bald patch remains on his behind to this very day.
But Dube too was marked for life. The burns from the blazing logs in Baboon’s fire left stripes all over his snow-white coat. But at least he had won and from that day on, the water was free to all the animals.
Since then, zebras wear their stripes with pride, and while baboons are banished to stony outcrops, the zebras dwell on open plains, coming and going to the river just as they please.
(A Zulu story)
The sun was shining high in the African sky when the lion, the jackal and the wild dog went out hunting together. It did not take them long before they had brought down a wildebeest, a springbok and a hare. The lion spoke to the wild dog. “My cousin, how shall we divide our food today?” The wild dog answered, “My King, I think that you should have the wildebeest. Our friend the jackal should have the hare. For myself, I don’t mind if I only have the springbok.” The lion’s eyes had grown wide and fierce. He raised his mighty paw and brought it heavily down on wild dog’s head. With a crack of his skull, the wild dog died.
The lion, with one eyebrow raised, turned to the jackal. “Now you my good friend, may try to divide our meal a little better.”
The jackal spoke with a serious heart; “My King, the wildebeest will be your lunch, the springbok will be your dinner, and the hare you shall have for your breakfast tomorrow morning.” With surprise the lion asked “Jackal, when did you become so wise?” The jackal replied “When I heard wild dog’s skull cracking.”
Nubian Folklore, Sudan