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.
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.”
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.
Once there was a very beautiful Afar girl and one young man fell madly in love with her. So he sent people to her father’s house to ask for her hand in marriage.
But her father said, “I’ll only bestow my daughter if he gives me all his wealth, his camels, his cows, everything.”
So they went back and said, “Look, her father’s asking for the impossible. He wants all your wealth.”
The young man said, “That’s OK. She’s everything in this world. You can take all my animals.”
And he married the girl.
But he had nothing to feed her and therefore he had to become a hunter and he fed her.
Then one day her father decided to go and visit his son-in-law and daughter and he came over to their house. Of course a guest has to eat, so she brought in her father and made him sit down and she started boiling water hoping her husband would soon come in with the kill, but all the water in the pot boiled away. So she put in more water, but it too boiled away. She filled it again and it boiled away. By this time she was desperate and she looked out of their hut and saw another man walk by with a bush buck he had just killed.
So she went to him and said, “Look mister, I have an unexpected guest and my husband, who is a hunter, has gone out, so please give me one of the legs of the bush buck so I can feed my guest. When my husband comes back, I’ll repay you in kind.”
And he said, “No way. I’ve got enough meat for myself, therefore I don’t want the leg of meat that your husband is going to bring. But since you are so beautiful, I want to make love to you.”
She said, “OK, but the guest is in my house right now, so go and come back after dark.”
So she took the leg of meat and went in and started cooking it. Then her husband came, having killed a zebra, so there was plenty of meat and he gave it to her and he sat down and started eating with his father-in-law.
When it became dark the other hunter came and he threw a pebble on to the roof so that she would come out. But she just sat down and went on cooking the zebra meat. He threw a second pebble, but she pretended not to notice. Then he threw a third pebble and she burst out laughing.
Her father turned round and said, “What are you laughing at?”
She said, “I’m laughing at three fools.”
Her father said, “What do you mean?”
She said, “I’m laughing at three fools. The first fool is my husband, who gave away all his wealth for the sake of a woman. The second fool is my father, who took away all the wealth of his child, his son-in-law, then comes to have a meal and where does he expect the meat to come from? And the third fool is the man outside who gave me a leg of his bush buck and expects me to make love with him.”
So the moral is: (i) men are foolish over women and wealth; (ii) wealth is necessary for people to live well besides love.
There was a very tired woman living alone. One day she slept without closing the door, in the daytime, and night fell. During the night the hyena came and took the woman with her cow skin mat wrapped up. He left her in a corner and went to call his friends. The woman woke up and when she realized she wasn’t at home she was frightened. She rolled the cow skin as if there was someone in it and ran away.
When she got home she closed the door and fell asleep again. When the hyena came with his friends, he found the skin, and thought the woman was there. When he touched the skin the woman had gone. He was upset and went back to her home, but it was closed. So he went back to his friends.