How the Zebra Got his Stripes
and a few other Tales
African Safari Campfire Stories
Stories - Tribes
- Fauna & Flora
- Countries -
tales are told of the animals which the Bushmen
people of the Kalahari Desert know so well.
How the Zebra Got His
Stripes: Long ago, when animals were still new on earth, the weather was very
hot, and what little water there was remained in pools and pans. One of
these was guarded by a boisterous baboon, who claimed that he was the 'lord
of the water' and forbade anyone from drinking at his pool.
When a zebra and his son came down to have a drink, the baboon, who
was sitting by his fire, jumped up. 'Go away, intruders,' he barked. 'This
is my pool and I am the lord of the water.'
'The water is for everyone, not just for you,
back the zebra's son.
'If you want it, you must fight for it,' returned
the baboon in a fine fury, and in a moment the two were locked in combat.
Back and forth they went, until with a mighty kick, the zebra sent the
baboon flying high up among the rocks of the cliff behind them. The baboon
landed with a smack on his seat, and to this day he carries the bare patch
where he landed.
The zebra staggered back through the baboon's fire, which
scorched him, leaving stripes across his white fur. The shock sent the
zebra galloping away to the plains, where he has stayed ever since. The
baboon and his family, however, remain high up among the rocks where they
bark defiance at all strangers, and hold up their tails to ease the smarting
of their bald patches.
The White Breasted Crow:
The white patch or collar around the neck of the African Pied (White breasted) crow
is said to have been made by a lump of fat tied on by Bushman wives. The
women attached the fat before sending the bird to look for their husbands
if they were late returning after a long day's hunting. Whether the fat
was to sustain the crow on his long flight, or to restore the husbands
upon being found is not quite clear, but it has certainly left the crow
with an indelible stain on his shirt front!
How the snake lost his legs:
In the story of how the snake lost his legs, the moon is portrayed
as a sympathetic deity who looked into the future, and saw that a terrible
drought was impending. She called to Mantis. 'You must take your wives
and children and all the birds and animals and move from this area, for
soon there will be nothing here but a desert,' she warned him.
told everybody, and all the animals packed up and trekked away to places.
All but the snake, which in those days had legs like other animals. He
was lazy, and did not believe Mantis. 'No, I will stay here. Your drought
will not worry me,' he said. But soon, when no rain fell and the grass shriveled and all the little fat frogs hopped away, the snake grew thin
and hungry and decided to follow the others.
By then, however, the land
had become a desert, and each weary foot the snake put before him sank
in the hot sand. At last, in desperation, he cried: 'Oh Moon, I am ashamed
of myself. Save me from the sun and I will change my ways.'
The moon took
pity on the creature, and in a moment the snake found that his legs had
shrunk away, and on his gleaming skin he could glide easily across the
hot sand without sinking into it as before. Whether the snake really did
change his ways when he had found his way out of the desert, we are not
told, but in view of the general feelings about these reptiles, I think
it is doubtful!