Once upon a time, there was a young man who was going to visit his fiancée. She received him with all honors and installed him in her hut in the middle of her bed. She hastened to present him with a calabash full of curdled milk. But custom dictates that one holds back when one is at one’s parents-in-law, and the stranger apologized for not being able to drink this good milk.
Despite his beloved’s insistence, he refused to take a single drop. The calabash was thus stored on the shelf and the conversation resumed even more vigorously.
A moment later, the girl went out for a few moments. Then, the stranger, who was tormented by the desire to taste this good milk, got up to take advantage of the absence of his beloved. But, in his haste, he knocks over the calabash, and the milk floods his boubou.
Stunned and crestfallen, he awaits his fiancée’s return. Fortunately, she does not return, but sends her little brother to bring back the calabash of milk stored on the shelf. The child enters the room and, seeing the confused man huddled in a corner, he understands what has happened. Heaving a sigh, he exclaimed:
– Ouch, I took the calabash, but it slipped from my hands and it fell over on the guest’s boubou!
The sister runs inside and burst into tears while apologizing to her guest for the clumsiness of her little brother.
Thus, the man was able to leave the village, not without keeping an excellent memory of the child who saved him from disgrace.
Contes Wolof du Baol, J. Copans and P. Couty, Ed. Karthala, 1988, p. 62. Translated to English by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com
The crow was once a sheikh or priest, and at that time he was white. But all the other birds made an accusation against him.
They said, “On the one hand he eats meat, and on the other hand he eats fruits.“
So all the birds came together and said, “You are a sheikh or a priest! But what you do is wrong. The smallest birds should eat meat. And the biggest ones eat fruit. But you eat from both sides.”
In not only Somali but Cushitic culture in general, it was said that the crow was the representative of the Sun God called Wak. Oromos believed in the Sun God also. People believed that the crow interpreted what Wak, the Sun God, said to the people and people would send their messages to the Sun God through him.
The crow, when he speaks, says “Wak! Wak!”
But the crow became dishonest and ate from both things – fruit and meat, and so he was punished. They cursed him and he became black.
Once there was a dog, a goat and a donkey who wanted to travel to another country. So they got on the bus. The dog had ten birr (the main unit of currency in Ethiopia). The donkey had five birr, but the goat had no money.
The bus ticket cost five birr. But when the dog gave ten birr to the conductor, he didn’t get any change. Because the goat had no money, she tried to hide herself in the bus. But the donkey paid his five birr. When the bus arrived at its destination they all got off.
The dog always runs after the bus shouting, “Give me my five birr! My five birr!” The goat runs away from the bus, saying, “The conductor will ask me for my money.” But the donkey doesn’t move. He’s already paid his five birr and he feels quite safe and happy.
Once upon a time there was a village where famine was raging; the king was very worried because the children were dying and the villagers no longer had enough strength to go and cultivate the land. This was where Kaku Ananze, the spider lived. Despite all his cunning, he too was suffering from hunger. Every day he went into the bush in search of roots or seeds that could feed his family. One day, Kaku Ananze was wandering among the bushes. Exhausted with fatigue, he stopped to rest. So he hears a little voice coming out of a thicket which tells him, “Papa Ananze! Papa Ananze!” A bit scared and very curious to know who is calling him, Kaku Ananze enters amidst the thorns and discovers a calabash placed on the ground.
As he takes a closer look, the kitchen utensil speaks to him in these terms, “Take me out of this thorn bush and take me to your hut. As a reward, I will make your life happy.”
Spider picks up the calabash and takes it home. Once home, he calls his wife and children. He shows them the utensil and tells them his story. While everyone is amazed, Kaku Ananze leans over the calabash and says to it, “Dear friend, I did everything you wanted. It’s up to you to keep your promise. My people and I are starving and have no food; can you help us?” No sooner does he finish these words than the calabash is filled with all kinds of food: fried yams, beignets, plantains, bananas, chicken, sauce,… They all thank their new friend, eat until they are full. Then Kaku Ananze speaks in these terms, « children, listen to me, and you too, wife ! I am going to carefully hide this magic calabash. Do not tell anyone, under any circumstances, because people will be jealous of our luck and could come and steal the calabash from us. » All family members swear to remain silent. For a few days everything goes well. In the evening, Spider takes the calabash from its hiding place, and politely asks for food, and after the family has eaten, he returns the utensil back.
But, Kaku Ananze’s wife is very greedy. She hid a few bean fritters in her loincloth as provision for the day. In the afternoon, she goes out of the concession, sits under a mango tree and begins to eat. But her hungry neighbor sees her. The neighbor quietly approaches and starts screaming, “how can you have bean fritters, when everybody is dying of hunger, and that there is no food in the village? Besides, I did not see you pounding the dough or cooking. Who did you steal this from?”
Mrs. Spider is bothered. She immediately gives her remaining beignets to the neighbor, begging her to shut up. This one devours everything then starts making noise again. “Thief! Thief ! Who did you take this from?” Scared, Mrs. Spider tells her the whole story of the magic calabash found by her husband, and swears to her, that from now on, she will bring her a little food every day if she keeps the secret.
During the night, the neighbor who cannot hold her tongue, tells her husband everything; the husband immediately goes to the king to denounce Kaku Ananze’s selfishness.
The king sends soldiers to search the entire concession of Kaku Ananze, but they do not find anything. The magic calabash has disappeared. And no one ever saw it again.
The tongue is death.
Contes des Lagunes et des Savanes, Edicef (1975). Translated to English by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com
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.
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.”
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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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the old days, monkey went to see God and asked him to be like man. God asked him:
Awô, but can you stay locked 100 days in a cage?
Awô answered monkey, I can, I swear !
God locked him up in a box as agreed.
On the morning of the 99th day, monkey looked through a small hole and saw wonders: flowers, ripe mangoes, bananas, a blue sky, expanse of water, a golden light, branches swinging.
Then, with all his strength, monkey broke the door and said:
The world gets beautiful while I am locked up! No way, all these movements outside invite me to the party, I go, I go !!!
He does not finish his monologue and he jumps outside in the open air to live freely like everyone.
That’s why he stayed half-way between man and animal.
A short father and a short mother gave birth to 4 tall children. But these children weren’t just tall – they were vain. When they got old enough to think for themselves, they looked down their noses at their parents and said, “These people cannot be our parents. We are too big to have come from such little things.”
So they left their parents and went to ask the King to provide them with a new set. They knew he would never give them new parents if he knew they already had some, no matter how short they were; so they lied, and told him that they were orphans.
You should know that these children were planning on making a living by baking.
The King listened carefully, and then he said; “I will give you parents. But in return you must give me 2 sacks of charcoal. But this charcoal must not come from wood. You must make it out of pure fire.”
The tall children had no idea how to do this, so they went back to ask their short parents for advice. Of course, they did not want to tell them how they were trying to get new parents, more befitting to their tall stature; so they lied again, and told them they went to the King only to ask for food.
“We asked him nicely, but he told us to make some charcoal from nothing but fire! How do we do it?”
Of course the parents wanted to help their children, so they agreed. “Okay. Go back and tell him that the charcoal is cooking, but that in order to prepare it properly you need to have jars filled with the King’s tears.”
They went back to the king and did as their parents had asked. The King said, “I have no tears. But I now know you have not been telling the truth. You are being too clever. Someone must have told you to play this trick. The only people who would help you in this way must be your parents.”
And so the tall children had to go back and live with their short parents.
So what is the lesson of this story? Whether they are rich or poor, or tall or short, strong or weak, you must love your parents as they are. They are irreplaceable in your life. You can search the whole world but you will never find anyone else who will be parents for you.