African Tales and Stories

AFRICAN TALES
THE CREATION  THE CRAFTY JACKAL   THE ORIGIN OF PEOPLE
THE ZEBRA'S APPAREL  THE GEMSBOK'S RAIMENT
THE BUFFALO KAROSS

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THE CREATION A Bushman story from the Kwa of Phudu Hudu(south east Kalahari), by M. Elliot
Creationa.gif (3705 bytes) 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.
They 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.                            
                                                             M.Elliot

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THE CRAFTY JACKAL A Tale from the Khoi (Hottentot) of the Klein Karoo, by M. Elliot
crafty jack.gif (2388 bytes) 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.
Wanting 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.


                                                             M.Elliot

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THE ORIGIN OF PEOPLE A Tswana tale from the Southern Kalahari, by M. Elliot
Origin_of_People.gif (2959 bytes) At the dawn of time, the Gods created the first man named Tauetona. They then created his brothers and the animals. All was peaceful in this land called 'Thaya Banna' ( The Beginning of Men).But all was not well because, unlike the animals, the men had no wives. Their cave was not a happy place.The Gods sent a message to the men, with 'Tread Carefully' the Chameleon.
  In this message they said that " The men would all have to die but they may return later". 'Tread Carefully' took a very long time to deliver this puzzling message.
In the meantime the Gods decided that they should send a second more clear message with the fast lizard. They said "Your spirits will live forever but you will die like the animals". They also said that the men would have children! "But how was this to be without women?" asked the men. What the men did not know was that the Gods had created women in another valley far away, called 'Motlhaba Basetsana' ( the Plain of Women).
Later while hunting, Tauetona discovered some strange footprints, very much like his own but a lot smaller. "What are these?" he asked the Brown Hyena. "I do not know this animal", the Hyena replied, not really interested as it was too big an animal for him to catch.
"From your great height can you see this animal?" the man asked the Giraffe. Looking into the distance the wise Giraffe saw the valley and a dozen of these strange bipeds, which he guessed were the women that the men desired. " I can see them and I shall go and  ask them to return with me."
The Giraffe went and spoke to the women, saying that he could take them to some young men who eagerly awaited them. The women followed the Giraffe, rejoicing and singing songs of motherhood.
In the meantime the old Mother of the Gods made a potion from Mimosa seeds which she then placed on the tongue of each man. This gave the men the gift of speech so that they could propose to the women and marry them.


                                                             M.Elliot

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THE ZEBRA'S APPAREL A Bushman story from Northern Namibia, by M. Elliot
Zebras Aparel.gif (10727 bytes) 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.
He 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.


                                                             M.Elliot

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THE GEMSBOK'S RAIMENTA Bushman story from the  Okwa Valley, Botswana, by M. Elliot
Tale Gem.gif (44314 bytes) 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.
Sprinting ahead, the Gemsbok took an early lead in the race. He chose all the rock and stony places to run over and with his hard hooves he sailed across this rough terrain. Behind him the Ostrich was limping badly. His soft feet were not accustomed to such a terrible pounding on this hard and uneven surface.
Furious, the Ostrich eventually stopped, unable to run any more on the rocky ground. In frustration, he started throwing stones at the Gemsbok who kept on running until he reached the other side of the hard terrain. When the Ostrich looked down for more stones to throw, the Gemsbok laughed and ran away with the horns and magnificent cloak of black and white. For a long time they did not meet. The Gemsbok was proud of his new cloak
and horns and learned to fight well with them.
In the meantime the Ostrich was beginning to feel the benefits of not having to carry those heavy horns. However, when they did meet again, the Ostrich, out of pride, fought to regain his stolen possessions, but found the Gemsbok far too skillful.
Dejected, the Ostrich had to admit defeat, while being secretly relieved that he did not have to carry the heavy burden again. "Maybe we should be friends and the Gemsbok can protect me with those horns of mine" hr thought.
The Gemsbok and Ostrich are often found together for this very reason.


                                                             M.Elliot

THE BUFFALO KAROSS A story from the Kurdi - of Lake Tchad, Chad.
Buffalo Kaross.JPG (3621 bytes) 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.
                                                                        M. Elliot

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