Thursday, November 19, 2009

African Folklore: How the Cheetach Got His Speed

African cultures have a plethora of folklore handed down from generation to generation.  Their folklore stories are very interesting and amusing as they seek to interpret about their history, the principles of life, and the traits of African animals through their own cultural world view.  I will share a few of these amusing folklore stories here.  Enjoy!

How the Cheetah Got His Speed  (A Bushman story)

Once upon a time the Creator decided to find out which of His animals could run the fastest and so He entered the cheetah in a race with the tsessebe, which is one of the swiftest of all the antelopes.  The cheetah had soft paws then, and he realized that they were not suited for real speed. So he borrowed a set of paws from an obliging wild dog.

The race started from a high baobab tree. The Creator Himself was in charge and the two contestents were told to run right across the plains to a hill on the far side. The animals lined up and then - go!  They leapt away.

The tsessebe soon took the lead and by halfway, he was so far ahead that he seemed sure to win. But suddenly, disaster! Tsessebe stumbled on a stone, and crashed to the ground; he had a broken leg.

The good natured cheetah, instead of running past and winning the race, stopped to help his opponent.

The Creator, seeing this, was so pleased by the cheetach's unselfish act that He bestowed upon the cheetah a gift; He made him the fastest animal in the land and what's more, allowed him to keep the paws of the wild dog.

From: When the Hippo was Hairy and Other tales from Africa;  Nick Greaves.

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