Somali Tale: How the Cat became the Woman’s Friend

Cat

At the beginning of the world, the cat was the friend of the antelope in the bush. But once the lion came to the bush and fought and killed the antelope. So the cat thought the lion was better, and became a friend of the lion. But then a group of elephants fought the lion and the lion was killed, so it became the friend of the elephants. Then it saw a man kill an elephant.

Oh, this is better than the elephant,” and the cat became the friend of man.

African Venus, a sculpture by Charles-Henri Joseph Cordier 1851 (Source: Walters Art Museum)
African Venus, a sculpture by Charles-Henri Joseph Cordier 1851 (Source: Walters Art Museum)

As soon as the man went into his house there was a quarrel with his wife, and his wife ran at him with a stick, shouting, “Where have you been?”

And she shouted many bad things to him. So the man ran away.

Oh,” said the cat,the woman is stronger than the man.”

So the cat became the friend of the woman.

This tale was narrated by Abdul Hakim Abdulahi Jibril on Ethiopian Folktales.

When Silence is Strength

Silence

An eminent nobleman found one morning that his house had been broken into and all his belongings stolen.

Instead of sounding alarms, he gathered his wives and children in the courtyard, and without saying anything, took place in their midst, calmly smoking his pipe.

Towards the middle of the morning, two young men arrived. They found the family gathered in silence, and thinking that they were mourning the theft that they had perpetrated the night before, they spread in compassion:

  • We were out of the village for several days, said one to the nobleman. Back this morning, we were informed of what has happened to you, and we could not leave without coming to commiserate with you.

For all answer, he had them arrested and tied, before telling them what he had been victim of. The young men confessed.

It is since this story that there is an adage which says that we catch the animal by the paw and the man by the word.

Fables des Montagnes de Patrice Kayo, Collection Les CLES de l’avenir, Editions CLE, Yaounde, p. 39 (1998). Translated to English by Dr. Y.Afrolegends.com

The Taro and Its Neighbors

Dotted taro leaf

From its large leaves, the taro collected water and without gathering any for itself, or absorbing enough, watered its neighbors who bloomed and produced abundantly. For the benefit of others, generous taro forgot itself.

When the dry season came, it was the first to suffer from the lack of water. Turning to its neighbors who had great reserves, it begged them to share enough to survive until the rainy season. Everyone closed their door to its face and fell back on their complacency.

It is while dying that he understood that forgetting oneself for the benefit of others is a failure and that one must always be satisfied before adding to others.

Fables des Montagnes de Patrice Kayo, Collection Les CLES de l’avenir, Editions CLE, Yaounde, p. 59 (1998). Translated to English by Dr. Y.Afrolegends.com

The Safou and Hazel Trees

The storm was doing her frequent incursions in the forest and, like a raptor that rushes on from the sky and only leaves each time with a chick, she uprooted a tree. Each victim was left to his fate. For the survivors, the attack was only the business of the one who had succumbed.  Each closed his door on his blissful quietude.

The safou tree

One morning, the insatiable grim reaper [the storm] stopped in front of the safou tree and started ruffling his hair. Then she [the grim reaper] shook him in all directions to make him understand that his time had come.

The safou tree tried to organize his defense. The storm rushed, retreated to regain strength, came back with more violence, snatched off and dispersed under her breath the hair of the assaulted. Not being able to take it anymore, the safou tree sent out a distress call in the direction of the hazel tree, his neighbor.

  • Here is, he said, the brigand who for many years, depopulates our country. Come help me get out of his claws. I am out of strength.
  • I never get involved in anything that doesn’t concern me, said the hazel tree. I do not deal with either the storm or the wind. Give back to the brigands what you owe them.

This said, the hazel tree closed his door to find the softness and calm of his home.

Turkish hazel tree (Source: Chicago Botanic Garden)

Under the storm’s assaults, the safou tree collapsed. In his last breath, he grumbled that what was happening to him will not miss the hazel tree.

And two days later , it was the turn of the hazel tree to pay the storm the ransom of weakness and individualism of the people of the forest.

Fables des Montagnes de Patrice Kayo, Collection Les CLES de l’avenir, Editions CLE, Yaounde, p. 9 (1998). Translated to English by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com

Malagasy Tale: Rakoto and His Bull

Madagascar_map1
Map of Madagascar (WorldAtlas)

In a village not too far from Antsirabe, lived a man named Rakoto who grew katrony (hashish) in big quantity. Since he liked the katrony too much, he smoked a lot of it every day. He also made clothes (rongony) from it, and made a lot of money that way.

He stacked the grains of katrony and ate them with rice and meat. Every day when he went to his farm to milk his cows, he first smoked 5 stems of katrony and ate a bowl of rice mixed with katrony powder. One day after he had smoked too much before milking the cow, he got the wrong cow and tied the bull. But the bull charged him and cut his left leg.

cow

Since then, all his descendants, the Antsirabe people, are prohibited from touching or smoking the katrony.

Malagasy tale translated to English by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com

Malagasy Tale: Trimobe and the Little Girl

Madagascar conte_Trimobe-12-créatures-légendaires-qui-hantent-Madagascar-1
Trimobe (Source: La Mozeration @Tokikycity, Mada-Actus Info)

A little girl who has been abandoned in the woods by her two evil sisters, meets the monster Trimobe, who tells her, “You will be my daughter, Rafara.” He takes her home, locks her in his den and feeds her with food. His plan is to “eat her when she will be well-fed and plump.”… Days go by.

One night, a small hungry mouse asks Rafara for food. Rafara, listening only to her good heart, gives the mouse food. To thank her, the mouse gives her a staff, a rock, and one egg, while advising her to flee as quickly as possible.

Bird_1
The bird

Rafara runs away. The monster pursues the little girl and quickly catches up to her. Rafara throws her staff while saying, “Dear staff, gift of the mouse, turn into a lake,” and the staff becomes a lake. But Trimobe in a few sips drinks it all. The little girl then throws the rock while saying, “Dear rock, gift of the mouse, turn into a forest,” and instantly the rock turns into a forest. Trimobe, thanks to his powerful and sharp tail, cuts all the trees down. Rafara then throws the egg while saying, “Dear little egg, gift of the mouse, turn into a mountain!” She finds herself at the top of the mountain. The bird Vovondreo who was passing by, agrees to take her with him in exchange for colorful rocks.

Her father welcomes her with joy. He wants to punish the two evil sisters but Rafara, so kind, intercedes on their behalf in front of her father. Rafara grows up to be so beautiful that the king’s son asks for her hand in marriage.

This is a short version of the tale on Contes a Rever, translated to English by Dr. Y. Afrolegends.com

The African Crow: The Crow with a Nike Collar

Nike Crow_1
A crow snacking on some bread

A few years back, my father was visiting Melbourne in Australia, when he heard a bird crowing around. So he asked an Australian lady nearby what bird that was, and she answered the crow… and my dad went on to tell her that in his country, the crow had a white collar, and sounded just like that… so the lady chuckled and said, “so you have a Nike-collar crow in your country.” So meet the Nike-collared Crow.

Nike Crow_Rwanda_1
Crows in Rwanda

When I first moved to the West, I never understood why people taught of the crow as a bad bird, or rather a bird of bad omen. When I asked, they told me because of its black coat, and black feathers, and because of its cry. This sounded totally weird to me… why? Because in African culture, the crow is not a bad bird, or a bird bringing ominous news. It is actually a good bird. Not only that, but the crow is not an all-black bird, but it has a white collar. I was surprised to find this white-collared bird in Cameroon, in Rwanda, and in other places, thus telling me that the white-collared crow is indigenous to Africa.

With the white collar, isn’t your perception of the crow changed?

Nike Crow_Cameroon_2
Crows in Cameroon

The Orphan and the Wicked Villagers

Troupeau de vaches
Boys leading a herd of cows

There was once, in a village, a very rich man who owned many herds of cows, goats, and sheep. He had only one child, a son, still very young whose mother had passed away after giving him life!
When the old man felt his own death coming, he worried: who was going to advise his son so that he would not get devoured by the man-eating worms, the man-eating worms that migrated between the two great rivers where every day he went to water his flocks? The villagers could not do it. On the contrary, they would be jubilant at the idea of seeing his son devoured by the man-eating worms. They would happily split his herds among themselves!

Cailcedrat1
Cailcedrat (Source: paysdelaTeranga blog)

He was going to entrust his son to a tree, an old cailcedrat :

  • I am going to die, he said. I entrust my son to you so that you counsel him.

Then he passed away.

In the morning, before taking his flocks to pasture, the young boy would sing to the tree.

  • My father entrusted me to you, great cailcedrat. Should I take my flocks to Toubalitou? Or should I lead them to Diabalidia?

The tree shook its heavy branches laden with leaves three times, and said:

  • Go to Toubalitou. Do not go to Diabalida. The man-eating works will be at Diabalida today!

The young boy led his flocks to Toubalitou, and in the evening came back safe and sound to the village. The villagers were astonished and furious. Someone must be advising the boy for him not to be eaten by the worms! They were going to find out who was counseling him. They hired a hunter for that task, who brought back the secret. They cut down the tree, burnt it, and threw the ashes in the river.

Turtledove Cameroon
A turtledove at dusk

When the orphan came for counsel, he found nothing. He cried, and still sang his song. One never knew. It was a turtledove who answered him. And once again he got home safe and sound. People were once again surprised. They were furious at the hunter, he had lied to them.

The hunter once again told them the new secret, and promised them that he would kill the turtledove. However, he never could. He became insane, and still runs to this day firing shots at the sky taking it for his turtledove.

Since that day, wise men and women tell their children never to kill a turtledove.

The French original can be found on Ouologuem Blog. Translated to English by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com

Never Cry Croc

Children_2
4 Children

One day there lived a family with 4 children, 3 girls and 1 boy. All the children were good except one – you guessed it was the boy. But he wasn’t just unruly – he was also funny. He wanted to spend the whole day playing jokes on people.

One day the boy was sent to get water from a river that was full of crocodiles. After he had collected his water he put the pot safety on the back. Then he started to call out at the top of his voice, “Help! Help! The crocodiles! The crocodiles!

When they heard his screams, everyone was in a panic. They all came running as fast as they could down to the river bank to help him. When they got there they found him laughing his head off. He’d fooled them all! He thought he was hilarious.

Crocodile_1
Crocodile

Of course everyone was very cross. “You called us for nothing. You interrupted our work for nothing. You stupid, bad boy.

Another day the boy was given the same job to go down to the river to collect water. This time though he really was caught by the leg by a crocodile. He pulled all he could and yelled and screamed – “Help! Help! The crocodile the crocodile!

Everyone in the village heard, and rolled their eyes. “Yeah yeah yeah,” they said. “He does that all the times. Take no notice.” When his screams got really loud and panicky, they all shook their heads. “He doesn’t give up, that boy, does he? But he’s not fooling us twice!

No one realized that they were really listening to the boy being attacked and then eaten by a huge crocodile, until they went down to the riverbank later on and found nothing but a pile of clothes and some bloodied mud.

And what is the moral of the story? Simple: you must never lie. You must always tell the truth. Even when you want to make a joke.

This is a Congolese tale from Melvin Burgess blog.

Why the Warthog goes about on his knees

Jackal
Jackal

Oh, Gogo,” little Sipho asked one evening, “could you tell us the story of clever Jackal again?” Sipho, whose nickname was Mpungushe “jackal,” never tired of hearing tales of his beloved namesake.
Hawu, Sipho,” moaned several of his siblings, “Not again, little Jackal! You will wear out our ears with stories of Mpungushe!

Gogo laughed her deep, round laugh. Soon each of her grandchildren were laughing along with her.

I, too, love the stories of the Jackal!” Gogo looked at Sipho. “But we do not want to cause your brothers and sisters to become deaf. I think there is another tale that I can tell you of an animal who tried to be as clever as Jackal!

Kwasuka sukela …

Warthog_1
Warthog

WartHog had made himself a lovely, spacious home in an old termite mound that an aardvark had cleared out. He had built it up and made a wide entrance. He thought it was the most magnificent home in Africa and would often stand at the entrance of his dwelling with his snout in the air as the giraffe, wildebeest and zebra passed on their way to the watering hole. “Hah,” he thought to himself, “no one has such a fine home!

One day as he looked out from the entrance of his cave he was horrified to see a huge lion stealthily stalking toward him. He started to back away, but because he had made the entrance to his place so grand, the lion would have no difficulty in following WartHog right in. “Ahhhh,” panicked WartHog, “Bhubesi will eat me in my own lounge! What will I do?

WartHog decided to use an old trick he’d heard Jackal bragging about. WartHog pretended to be supporting the roof of his hole with his strong back, pushing up with his tusks. “Help!” he cried to the lion, “I am going to be crushed! The roof is caving in! Flee, oh, mighty Bhubesi, before you are crushed along with me!

Now Lion is no fool. He recognized Jackal’s old ploy straight away (“Do you remember that story, children?”), and he wasn’t going to be caught out again. He roared so fiercely that WartHog dropped to his knees, trembling. WartHog begged for mercy. Luckily for him, Lion was not too hungry. So he pardoned WartHog and left, saying,

Lion
Lion

Stay on your knees, you foolish beast!

Lion laughed to himself and shook his shaggy head as he walked away. Imagine, slow-witted WartHog trying to copy Jackal’s trick! WartHog took Lion’s order to heart. That is why, to this day, you will see Wart Hog feeding on his knees, in a very undignified position, with his bottom up in the air and his snout snuffling in the dust.

A Traditional Zulu Story