Thursday, March 22, 2012

African Folklore: Why Dung Beetle is So Strong

(A Batonka story) Long ago, Dung Beetle and Butterfly were the best of friends.  They were always together as they went about their daily business.  One day, they were resting in the shade of a tree when First Man and First Woman walked by.

"Oh, what a beautiful butterfly!" they exclaimed. And they stood and admired her for quite some time.

When First Man and First Woman resumed their travels, Dung Beetle said to Butterfly, "Whenever First Man and his wife see you, they always stop and admire you.  They never take a second glance at me.  Am I so ugly?"

"Nonsense," said Butterfly.  "It is only because you have nothing to attract their attention.  Humans admire beauty and strength.  If you were to become the strongest insect in the world, for instance, they would surely take notice of you."

"I could never become the strongest insect in the world!" said Dung Beetle sadly.

"Certainly you could," Butterfly quickly replied.  "Remember, if you make no effort you can expect no results.  But if you try you might succeed."

Dung Beetle decide that she would try.  She went off on her own for a long time.  Dung Beetle tried all sorts of exercises and challenges to become strong. Through continued effort she became very strong.  At last, she returned to her friend Butterfly.


To show Butterfly how strong she had become, Dung Beetle fashioned some huge balls of elephant dung. These balls were many times the size of the Dung Beetle. But she was now so strong she had no trouble pushing them around with her back legs.

As Dung Beetle was doing this, First Man and First Woman passed by. They were both amazed by Dung Beetle's prowess, that they did not even notice beautiful butterfly.

Dung Beetle was pleased with all the attention paid to her and she has been pushing dung balls around ever since.

Dung Beetle is not a vain creature, and she puts her feats of strength to practical use. She uses the dung balls to protect her eggs, which she buries inside the balls to give them extra protection from predators. (From: When Lion Could Fly: And Other Tales from Africa; by Nick Greaves and Rod Clement)

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