The Clever Son


Here is an Ethiopian tale from the Afar region of Ethiopia.  You can read the entire story on the Ethiopian Folktales‘ website.  Enjoy!


Once there was a very intelligent Afar boy aged fifteen, but he was always upset and angry because he knew what was happening in his house. His father was having an affair with one of his mother’s servants and his mother was having an affair with someone outside the household. And the boy knew about this and he was very angry.

Then one day, as he was asleep in the corner covered with clothes, his mother’s lover came in and didn’t notice him.

And he said to his mother, “You’re a very generous woman. You’ve given me everything I’ve ever asked for. Now tomorrow what I want is to eat the big white ox that belongs to your husband.”

And his mother said, “There’s no problem, as long as you come with ten of your friends.”

White ox
White ox

Then the next day, her lover came with ten of his friends.

She went to her husband and said, “Look, all of my relatives have come and we’ve got to feed them and they’re so many, I can’t give them just injera1 and ordinary things.”

And the husband said, “OK, I’ll slaughter the big white ox for you so you can feed them.”

And he took the ox under a tree and was slaughtering him using his big dagger.

Now the son was very angry and when he went to his father his father had already cut up the pieces of meat and he gave them to the boy, and told him to take it to the guests. Now as they were going along, wherever he passed a rock he bent down and put a piece of meat on each rock. And he continued walking towards the men. And when the father looked up, he saw the pieces of meat on the rock.

I wonder what’s wrong with my son?”

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