Man and Pirogue, Sunset, Niger River, Mali, West Africa

West African Folk-Tales  by  William H. Barker and Cecilia Sinclair

Garden Spider in Web, Argiope Aurantia

West African Folk-Tales
by William H. Barker and Cecilia Sinclair

How We Got the Name "Spider Tales"

How Wisdom Became the Property of the Human Race

Anansi and Nothing

Thunder and Anansi

Why the Lizard Moves His Head Up and Down

Tit For Tat

Why White Ants Always Harm Man's Property

The Squirrel and the Spider

Why We See Ants Carrying Bundles As Big As Themselves

Why Spiders Are Always Found in Corners of Ceilings

Anansi and the Blind Fisherman

Adzanumee and Her Mother

The Grinding-Stone That Ground Flour By Itself

Morning Sunrise

Why the Sea-turtle When Caught Beats Its Breast With Its Forelegs

How Beasts and Serpents Came into the World

Honourable Minu

Why the Moon and the Stars Receive Their Light From the Sun

Ohia and the Thieving Deer

How the Tortoise Got Its Shell

The Hunter and the Tortoise

Kwofi and the Gods

The Lion and the Wolf

Maku Mawu and Maku Fia

The Robber and the Old Man

The Leopard and the Ram

Why the Leopard Can Only Catch Prey On Its Left Side

Quarcoo Bah-Boni

King Chameleon and the Animals

To Lose an Elephant For the Sake of a Wren Is a Very Foolish Thing To Do

The Ungrateful Man

Why Tigers Never Attack Men Unless They Are Provoked

The Omanhene Who Liked Riddles

How Mushrooms First Grew

Farmer Mybrow and the Fairies

SurLaLune Fairy Tales Main Page

Why Tigers Never Attack Men Unless They Are Provoked

A MAN, hunting one day in the forest, met a tiger. At first each was afraid of the other; but after some talking they became quite friendly. They agreed to live together for a little time. First the man would live with the tiger in his forest home for two weeks. Then the tiger would come and live in the man's home.

The tiger behaved so well to the man during his visit that the man felt he had never been so well treated in all his life. Then came the time for the tiger to return home with the man. As they were going the tiger was somewhat afraid. He asked the man if he really thought he would be safe. "What if your friends do not like my face and kill me?" he asked. "You need fear nothing," said his host; "no one will touch you while I am there." The tiger therefore came to the man's house and stayed with him three weeks. He had brought his male cub with him, and the young tiger became very friendly with the man's son.

Some months later the man's father died. When Tiger heard of his friend's great loss, he and his cub set out at once to see and condole with him. They brought a large sum of money to help the man.

As Tiger was going home again two of the man's friends lay in hiding for him and shot him. Fortunately he was not killed, but he was very much grieved lest these men had shot him at his friend's wish. He determined to find out if the man had known anything at all about the shot.

Accordingly he went to the place in the forest where he had first met his friend. There he lay down as if he were dead, after telling his cub to watch and see what would happen.

By and by the man came along. When he saw the tiger lying, as he thought, dead, he was terribly troubled. He began to cry and mourn for his friend, and sat there all night long with Tiger's cub, to watch that no harm should befall the body.

When morning came and Tiger was quite assured that his friend had had nothing at all to do with the shot, he was very glad. He got up, then, to the man's great astonishment, and explained why he had pretended to be dead.

"Go home," said Tiger, "and remember me always. In future for your sake I will never touch a man unless he first meddles with me."

The text came from:

Barker, William H. and Cecilia Sinclair. West African Folk-tales. Lagos, Africa: Bookshop, 1917. Buy the book in paperback.

Available from

West African Folk-Tales  by  William H. Barker and Cecilia Sinclair

The Orphan Girl and Other Stories: West African Folk Tales by Buchi Offodile

West African Folk Tales  by Hugh Vernon-Jackson

African Folktales (Pantheon Fairy Tale & Folklore) by Roger Abrahams

The Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales by Joyce Cooper Arkhurst

Favorite African Folktales by Nelson Mandela

The Girl Who Married a Lion and Other Tales From Africa by Alex McCall Smith

African Genesis: Folk Tales and Myths of Africa


©Heidi Anne Heiner, SurLaLune Fairy Tales
Page last updated September 5, 2006 Logo