|THE CREATION A Bushman story from the Kwa of Phudu Hudu(south east Kalahari), by M. Elliot|
|At a time before the world existed, in a place
which had nothing above and nothing below, a man and a woman were made by a presence
without a name.
This man and woman were people, but they were not like the people we have on earth today.
were au See ! wa (the hunter) and his enormous wife um um Bolosa.
She was the creator of all things in the sky and of the earth.
First she made the heavens and filled them with the stars, the sun and the moon. She made them move and change in the way they move and change today.
Then, in her womb, she made all the living things that would eventually inhabit the earth-the plants and the insects, the birds and the animals. She also made all the different kinds of man-the Bushman and the Kgalagadi, the Tswana and the white people.
When all this was completed she became very sick and died.
Her stomach became bloated, swelling to an enormous size before bursting open. Her body had become the earth itself and from her womb emerged all these living things.
Variations of this story can be found amongst many different bushman groups and , indeed, different versions seem to exist amongst the Kwa Bushmen who told me this story. The key elements of the story remain fairly consistent - a very large woman, her creating all things and her ultimate death.
|THE CRAFTY JACKAL A Tale from the Khoi (Hottentot) of the Klein Karoo, by M. Elliot|
|Once, long ago, the Lion and the Jackal were very
good friends and often hunted together.
One day, the Lion killed a fine fat eland.
to hunt some more, the Lion asked his friend - " Will you go and fetch my family to
carry this large animal to my home?"
Instead the crafty Jackal went to his own family who carried the eland back to his house. The Jackal and his family had a fine feast.
Meanwhile the Lion had finish his hunting having found no more game. When he returned home, proud of his achievement, he asked " What did you think of that fine eland that I killed?"
" What eland! I have not seen any food at all", his wife snarled.
Startled, the Lion asked if the Jackal had come to tell them to carry the eland home. " I have not seen the Jackal at all today" was the reply.
Furious, the Lion stormed over to the Jackal's house and waited by the pond, to ambush him. A while later the Jackal, with full belly, came down to drink. The Lion pounced.
Alas the Jackal was too quick and dived down an empty burrow amongst the roots of a large tree. The Lion grabbed the Jackal's leg which was sticking out.
" Now I have got you!" growled the Lion. "No you haven't!" laughed the Jackal, "That is not my leg. That is a tree root." "Why don't you find a rock and hit it ? If it is my leg it will bleed."
The instant the Lion turned to find a stone, the Jackal dashed out of the hole, and climbed a rope made of mouseskins up to his house which was high on a rocky ledge.
The Lion tried to follow, not realizing that this rope was made for small animals. He reached halfway before it broke.
The Lion has never forgiven the Jackal for his bruised pride, and the Jackal is forever wary, staying well away from the foolish Lion.
Variations of this story can also be found amongst the Tswana and Sotho people throughout Southern Africa.
|THE ZEBRA'S APPAREL A Bushman story from Northern Namibia, by M. Elliot|
|These were the early days when the Earth was young. The land
was very hot and dry. In this shimmering new world, water could be found only in a few
small pans scattered around the desert.
At one such pan the Baboon stood guard, claiming that he was the owner. "No one may drink here, for this water is mine alone!" he declared, chasing away all who came to drink.
had built a fire close to the pool so that he could protect his water during the bitterly
cold desert nights.
One day the Zebra came to quench his thirst after a very long and tiring journey. In these early days the Zebra had no stripes. He wore a dazzling coat of pure white fur.
The Baboon jumped up angrily. "Who are you? Go away!" he screamed, "Iam Lord of this water. It is mine!"
The Zebra was in no mood to listen to this selfishBaboon. "This is not your water, you ugly monkey! It belongs to everyone!" shouted the Zebra.
The Baboon was furious and said that if he wanted the water he must fight for it.
The two were soon engaged in a fierce stuggle. Locked in combat, they rolled back and forth around the pan. Finally the Zebra gave one mighty kick and the Baboon was sent flying high up into the rocks behind the pool.
The Zebra had kicked so hard that he lost the balance. Staggering back into the Baboon's fire, he sent the burning sticks flying up in the air. These left black scorch marks all over his fine white coat.
Hurt and frightened he galloped in to the plains where he has remained ever since. Eventually he came to like his new apparel wich maid him stand out, distinguished amongst the other animals
However, the Baboon had landed on his buttocks, with a mighty thud, amongst the hard rocks. He has remained in the koppies ever since, nursing his bald red bottom and still as angry as ever.
|THE GEMSBOK'S RAIMENTA Bushman story from the Okwa Valley, Botswana, by M. Elliot|
|The Gemsbok was a dowdy drab animal, grey in color and without
horns. It lived alongside the Ostrich which was a magnificent beast, having a striking
black and white coat, a long neck and a pair of beautiful slender horns.
The Gemsbok was very jealous and challenged the Ostrich to a race. "I can run much faster than you" said the Gemsbok, "but I will give you a fair chance by carrying your heavy horns for you. Not that it make any difference. I will still beat you."
Unable to resist this arrogant challenge from the feeble
Gemsbok, the Ostrich readily agreed. "This will be an easy victory," he thought.
He gave the Gemsbok his heavy horns and black and white coat.
|THE BUFFALO KAROSS A story from the Kurdi - of Lake Tchad, Chad.|
|South of great lake, a lone hunter crept along the banks
of the Chari River, stalking a small buck.
As he rounded a bend in the river, he was startled to see a group of naked women bathing. These were fine buxom women, laughing and splashing in the water.
He moved his position to get a better view. As he crept closer he noticed their buffalo hide karosses lying on the bank.
|"One of these would be nice to keep me warm at
night", he thought.
He felt each one, carefully selecting the softest kaross for himself and then crept back into the bushes to continue watching the women.
They were unaware of him as he was very skillful in remaining invisible from his prey while hunting.
The women emerged from the river and draped their karosses over their shoulders. To his amazement each changed into a female buffalo, the minute the kaross covered their body. Each that is except the most beautiful woman who owned the kaross he had stolen.
She looked around in panic as her "buffalo" sisters wandered off into the forest. Frantically she searched for her missing kaross.
The hunter emerged and quickly caught her as she tried to run away, speaking to her in quite soothing tones. Eventually she calmed down and he then persuaded her to marry him. She agreed on the condition that she be allowed to occasionally wear her kaross to be with her "buffalo" sisters.
They remained happily married and had a son, but the hunter was not completely contented.
When they went to show their new son to his "buffalo" grandparents, the hunter asked them to change him into a buffalo as he did not want to live in the wicked world of men any longer.
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