Why the Warthog goes about on his knees


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 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,


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

The Dance for Water or Rabbit’s Triumph

Chutes de la Lobe (Cameroun) / Lobe Falls (Cameroon) - afrolegends.com
Chutes de la Lobe (Cameroun) / Lobe Falls (Cameroon) – afrolegends.com

THERE was a frightful drought. The rivers after a while dried tip and even the springs gave no water. The animals wandered around seeking drink, but to no avail. Nowhere was water to be found. A great gathering of animals was held: Lion, Tiger, Wolf, Jackal, Elephant, all of them came together. What was to be done? That was the question. One had this plan, and another had that; but no plan seemed of value.

Finally one of them suggested: “Come, let all of us go to the dry river bed and dance; in that way we can tread out the water.”

Good! Everyone was satisfied and ready to begin instantly, excepting Rabbit, who said, “I will not go and dance. All of you are mad to attempt to get water from the ground by dancing.”


The other animals danced and danced, and ultimately danced the water to the surface. How glad they were. Everyone drank as much as he could, but Rabbit did not dance with them. So it was decided that Rabbit should have no water.

He laughed at them: “I will nevertheless drink some of your water.”

That evening he proceeded leisurely to the river bed where the dance had been, and drank as much as he wanted. The following morning the animals saw the footprints of Rabbit in the ground, and Rabbit shouted to them: “Aha! I did have some of the water, and it was most refreshing and tasted fine.” Continue reading “The Dance for Water or Rabbit’s Triumph”

The World’s Reward


ONCE there was a man who had an old dog, so old that the man desired to put him aside. The dog had served him very faithfully when he was still young, but ingratitude is the world’s reward, and the man now wanted to dispose of him. The old dumb creature, however, ferreted out the plan of his master, and so at once resolved to go away of his own accord. After he had walked quite a way he met an old bull in the veldt.

Don’t you want to go with me?” asked the dog.

Where?” was the reply.

To the land of the aged,” said the dog, “where troubles don’t disturb you and thanklessness does not deface the deeds of man.”


Good,” said the bull, “I am your companion.”

The two now walked on and found a ram. The dog laid the plan before him, and all moved off together, until they afterwards came successively upon a donkey, a cat, a cock, and a goose. These joined their company, and the seven set out on their journey.


Late one night they came to a house and through the open door they saw a table spread with all kinds of nice food, of which some robbers were having their fill. It would help nothing to ask for admittance, and seeing that they were hungry, they must think of something else. Therefore the donkey climbed up on the bull, the ram. On the donkey, the dog on the ram, the cat on the dog, the goose on the cat, and the cock on the goose, and with one accord they all let out terrible (threatening) noises (crying). Continue reading “The World’s Reward”

Jackal and Monkey


EVERY evening Jackal went to the Man’s* kraal.  He crept through the sliding door and stole a fat young lamb.  This, clever Jackal did several times in succession.  Man set a wip for him at the door.  Jackal went again and zip-there he was caught around the body by the noose.  He swung and swayed high in the air and couldn’t touch ground.  The day began to dawn and Jackal became uneasy.

On a stone kopje, Monkey sat.  When it became light he could see the whole affair, and descended hastily for the purpose of mocking Jackal.  He went and sat on the wall. “Ha, ha, good morning. So there you are hanging now, eventually caught.
What? I, caught? I am simply swinging for my pleasure; it is enjoyable.
You fibber. You are caught in the wip.
If you but realized how nice it was to swing and sway like this, you wouldn’t hesitate.  Come, try it a little.  You feel so healthy and strong for the day, and you never tire afterwards.
No, I won’t.  You are caught.


After a while Jackal convinced Monkey.  He sprang from the kraal wall, and freeing Jackal, adjusted the noose around his own body.
Jackal quickly let go and began to laugh, as Monkey was now swinging high in the air.
Ha, ha, ha,” he laughed.  “Now Monkey is in the wip.
Jackal, free me,” he screamed.
There, Man is coming,” shouted Jackal.
Jackal, free me of this, or I’ll break your playthings.
No, there Man is coming with his gun; you rest a while in the noose.
Jackal, quickly make me free.
No, here’s Man already, and he’s got his gun.  Good morning.” And with these parting words he ran away as fast as he could.  Man came and saw Monkey in the wip.
So, so, Monkey, now you are caught.  You are the fellow who has been stealing my lambs, hey?
No, Man, no,” screamed Monkey, ” not I, but Jackal.
No, I know you; you aren’t too good for that.
No, Boer, no, not I, but Jackal,” Monkey stammered.
Oh, I know you.  Just wait a little,” and Man, raising his gun, aimed and shot poor Monkey dead.

South African Folk Tales, by James A. Honey, 1910, Baker & Taylor Company. (* I replaced ‘Boer’ by ‘Man’, for generality).