Tuesday, January 19, 2010

African Folklore: How the Zebra Got Its Stripes

One day long ago, a very big, very fierce baboon came down from the trees to live on the banks of the great Umfolozi River. Here he made his home and declared to all the other animals that the land all around belonged to him, and they were not to use the water in the river. He alone was to be allowed to drink.

There was one among the animals who decided to stand up to fearful Baboon. This was a proud young zebra stallion, Dube. In those days, zebras were pure white, likethe fabled unicorn. Now Dube was brave, and he challenged Baboon to a fight. Baboon, a fierce veteran of many battles, agreed. He knew all about fighting.
"The loser of the fight:' he said, "will be banished forever to the barren kopje (hills) across the river:' And he told the zebra to come to his kraal (corral) the next morning.

The fight was long and terrible. Both animals fought with all their strength, using the weapons the Creator had given them. Dube used his sharp hooves and teeth. Baboon used his long fangs and his agility. Eventually, Baboon gained the upper hand, and poor Dube was thrown backwards into the blazing logs of the kraal fire. The cruel flames licked all over his body, searing his fine white coat. The dreadful pain gave Dube a surge of new strength, and with a mighty kick he sent Baboon flying.

Over the river sailed Baboon, right onto the rocks of the kopje on the other side. Baboon landed with such force that a bald patch remains on his behind to this very day.

But Dube too was marked for life.The burns from the blazing logs in Baboon's fire left black stripes all over his snow-white coat. But at least he had won and from that day on, the water was free to all the animals. Since then, zebras wear their stripes with pride, and while baboons are banished to stony kopjes, the zebras dwell on the open plains, coming and going to the river just as they please.  (From: When the Hippo was Hairy and Other tales from Africa; Nick Greaves.)


Anonymous said...

i am really enjoying the stories in your blog and hope to meet you if we make it back to CEML! peggy smith

Unknown said...

Hello, I am a writer doing a story on the Zebra. I will explain more in an email. Could you please contact me at: dubedenise@cs.com.