Africa is a great continent with diverse cultures and traditions. These cultures are often passed down to generations through stories. Children sit around their parents or grandparents and listen to these stories. The most interesting thing about African stories is that they inculcate morals. However, this storytelling culture is dying slowly. Today, most African children know very little to almost nothing about their culture. This shouldn’t be the case. In a bid to help parents reignite the storytelling culture, we bring you 10 African stories every black parent should tell their children.
1. Tortoise’s Crooked Shell
The tortoise had convinced the birds to take him along with them to heaven for a feast and he also volunteered to be their spokesperson. They agreed. However, out of greed, he got there and betrayed them all by changing his name to “all of you” and ate the food that was meant for everyone. After the party, all the birds took back their feathers which they had earlier contributed to make him a pair of wings. He had no wings to fly back home. Therefore, he jumped and landed on the sharp and dangerous objects that his wife had placed on the ground due to the erroneous information she had received from the birds who told her it was an instruction from her husband.
Moral of this African story: This story preaches against greediness and advocates for contentment. Further, it tells us that we should never repay the good that has been done to us with evil.
2. The Singing Goat
The goat had followed the hunter home from the forest. Consequently, they became good friends. The goat was quite helpful and provided the hunter with milk and cheese. One day, the hunter had visitors and he ordered that the goat should be killed and be used to prepare a pot of soup. This singular action was of course a betrayal to the number of years they had spent together. The goat started singing sorrowful songs in the pot to the alarm of the guests and they all ran away leaving the hunter alone to his “possessed” pot of soup.
Moral of this African story: As absurd as this African story may sound, the lesson is powerful. Never betray a friend’s trust to satisfy your selfish gains.
3. The Proud Elephant
The elephant boasted and bullied other animals because he was huge and strong. He outrightly claimed no one could defeat him in a tug of war. The wise tortoise took up the challenge intending to win the elephant with his wit and not strength. On the day of the event, when the rope was passed to the tortoise, he tied his end to a tree since no one could see him. The elephant pulled and pulled till he finally got tired. Victory songs filled the air as everyone was happy for the tortoise but the elephant was utterly humiliated.
Moral of this African story: This African story fully encapsulates the saying that pride goes before a fall and wits will always defeat strength in a fair battle.
4. The Good Stepdaughter and The Bad Daughter
The wicked stepmother sent her stepdaughter to go and fetch water at a dangerous time of the day. She went and was kind to an old woman she met on her way who gave her a pot full of riches to break later. She became very rich and her stepmother out of jealousy sent her daughter to fetch water too at that same time. Her daughter met that same old woman and insulted her when she asked her for help. Yet the old woman still gave her a pot. She didn’t wait to follow the instructions to open it later. When she broke the pot, wild animals of all kinds came out and tore her to pieces.
Moral of this African story: This African story portrays the need to be respectful even to people we don’t know. We should also be patient and follow instructions because hastiness always leads to the wrong outcome.
5. Tortoise’s Revenge
This African story describes how the hare tricked the chicken into going out while he ate the whole food that was served at his mother’s house. He had deceived chicken into following him and then kept on sending her on various errands while he consumed the food placed before them. Next time, he invited the tortoise but the tortoise came prepared as he carried everything they needed so the hare could not find any reason to send him out.
Moral of this African story: It is good to be proactive and ready for every situation in life. It is not good to be stingy or to take advantage of others.
6. The Ant and The Bird
The ant was very tired, thirsty, and visibly dying. A bird perched nearby saw it and instead of feeding on it, picked it up and carried it to the river for a drink. A few days later, the ant saw a hunter aiming at the bird with his gun. The ant quickly climbed onto the hunter’s leg and stung him severally. As the hunter yelped in pain, he lost concentration and the bird flew away.
Moral of this African story: One good turn deserves another. This African story also teaches us that there is a reward for kindness.
7. Why The Chicken is Killed for Festivities
Things were going wrong in the animal kingdom so a meeting was fixed to provide a solution. On the day of the meeting, the chicken was too lazy to go. When his friends came to call him, he lied that he was not feeling well and said that he agrees with any decision made at the meeting. At the meeting, the chief priest announced that an animal must be sacrificed to appease the gods. Every animal refused to volunteer. However, since the chicken was absent, it was unanimously agreed that he’ll be used for the sacrifice. That is why, up to this day, chickens are still killed and cooked for festivities.
Moral of this African story: Laziness can sometimes lead us into a bad situation beyond our control. Never allow yourself to get into a situation where your fate will be decided by others; make your decisions yourself!
8. The Crocodile and The Monkey
The Monkey was friends with the crocodile and always gave him gifts to give his wife. But his wife thought, if the monkey has such sweet food, then he must be sweet too. She pretended to be sick and told her husband that a monkey’s heart was the only cure. The crocodile persuaded the monkey to come to visit his home and the monkey jumped at the opportunity. Halfway through their journey, the crocodile told him of his true intentions. The monkey was alarmed and quickly devised a means to save his life. He asked the crocodile to take him back as he had left his heart on the tree. That was how the monkey saved his own life.
Moral of this African story: Trust nobody.
9. The Leopard and The Bush Rat
There was a famine in the land and all the animals except the tortoise were hungry and thin. The leopard approached the tortoise and asked him to tell him what his secret was. The tortoise lied and told him that he fed on feces. However, he fed on fish from a secret pond he found in his search for food. Of course, the leopard did not believe him and ambushed him on his way back from the pond. The tortoise got the leopard to agree to share the catch but tricked him into playing a game during which he tied the leopard to a tree and ran away with all the fishes. The leopard was there all night with no one to help him. All the animals were scared of becoming his dinner if they ventured to set him free.
The next day, the bush rat decided to help him. However, knowing how cunning the leopard was he dug a hole in the ground to provide an escape route in case the leopard made any funny moves. As soon as the leopard was free, he ran after for the bush rat who quickly dived into the already-made hole. The leopard narrowly missed him but managed to scratch his back. That’s why to this day the bush rat has a thin white stripe on its back.
Moral of this African story: Do not take people’s kindness for granted. A leopard can never change its spot no matter what. This implies that a bad person will rarely ever change.
10. The rat and The cook
The rat was a sneaky animal and would always sneak into the cook’s pot to steal meat. Every morning, the cook would come to find her soup pot desecrated but she never found the culprit. One night, she decides to poison the pot of soup in order to put an end to the theft once and for all. As the rat was unaware, it stole from the pot again and that was how his life ended.
Moral of this African story: It is not good to take what doesn’t belong to you. Every day is for the thief, one day for the owner.
The examples above are a few out of the rich library of African stories that African parents should tell their children. These stories are not only essential as a part of our culture but also as a great instrument to teach unforgettable and useful lessons. Some of us were fortunate to hear some of these stories as a child. Tell us how many of the stories you know already.