How Crocodile got Its Ugly Skin


This story is from a book called “The Secret of the Crocodile“, a Namibia Oral Tradition Project, published by New Namibia Books. (Paraphrased)

The crocodile originally had a beautiful smooth golden skin, and it stayed that way because the crocodile would spend all day in the muddy waters and only come out at night.

During the day all the other animals would come and admire it’s beautiful golden skin.

The crocodile became very proud of its skin and started coming out of the water to bask in the other animals’ admiration, even while the sun was shining. He began thinking he was better than the other animals and started bossing them around.

The other African animals became bored with his change in attitude and fewer and fewer started showing up to look at his skin.

But each day that the crocodile exposed his skin to the hot African sun, it would get uglier and bumpier and thicker, and was soon transformed into what looked like bulging armor.

Crocodile never recovered from the humiliating shame and even today will disappear from view when others approach, with only his eyes and nostrils above the surface of the water.

Crocodile’s tears


In the old days, when the animals could talk, Crocodile was king of the water creatures. One year, there was a drought, and the water in the river ran dry. Crocodile sent Otter to scout for a new home, and two days later, he returned to say there was a deeper river on the far side of the farmer’s fields.

When he heard this, Crocodile called upon Tortoise and Alligator, and he explained they must go see Lion, king of the land creatures. “The veldt is dry,” he said, “and it will be a difficult journey, but we must make peace with the Lion and all his subjects, or we will die. They must help us cross the land to reach the other river.”

Tortoise and Alligator set off at once to see Lion. They carried along a peace treaty Crocodile had composed. When they arrived, they handed Lion the treaty.


Lion read it and decided he must consult with his associates, and then all the animals would hold a meeting. “Let us meet this evening at the willow tree at the far end of your river, where Crocodile has his headquarters,” Lion said. “There we can discuss the plan.”

So Tortoise and Alligator gave the news to Crocodile, who was very pleased to hear about this turn of events. “We must prepare some treats to woo our friends,” he said, so he and the others prepared many fish delicacies.

That night, with Otter and Beaver and Tortoise and Alligator, Crocodile traveled to the willow tree. There they met Lion and Wolf and Jackal and Baboon.

Crocodile was so pleased to see this gathering, a tear of joy dropped down his face and landed in the sand. “We have brought you some treats!” he announced, and Wolf and Jackal pounced with delight on the bounty. Continue reading “Crocodile’s tears”