Black-Backed Jackal (Canis Mesomelas), Hwange National Park,Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe

South African Folk-Tales by James A. Honey

Lion by by Keith Levit (photographer)

South African Folk-Tales
by James A. Honey


Origin of the Difference in Modes of Life Between Hottentots and Bushmen

The Lost Message

The Monkey's Fiddle

The Tiger, the Ram, and the Jackal

The Jackal and the Wolf

A Jackal and a Wolf

The Lion, the Jackal, and the Man

The World's Reward

The Lion and the Jackal


The Lion and Jackal [I]

The Lion and Jackal [II]

The Hunt of Lion and Jackal

The Story of Lion and Little Jackal

The Lioness and the Ostrich

Crocodile's Treason

The Story of a Dam

The Dance For Water or Rabbit's Triumph

Jackal and Monkey

Lion's Share

Jackal's Bride

The Story of Hare

The White Man and Snake

Another Version of the Same Fable


Lion's Illness

Jackal, Dove, and Heron

Cock and Jackal

Elephant and Tortoise

Another Version of the Same Fable

Tortoises Hunting Ostriches

The Judgment of Baboon

Lion and Baboon

The Zebra Stallion

When Lion Could Fly

Lion Who Thought Him Self Wiser Than His Mother

Lion Who Took A Woman's Shape

Why Has Jackal a Long, Black Stripe On His Back?

Horse Cursed By Sun

Lion's Defeat

The Origin of Death

Another Version of the Same Fable

A Third Version of the Same Fable

A Fourth Version of the Same Fable

A Zulu Version of the Legend of the "Origin of Death"

Literature on South African Folk-Lore

SurLaLune Fairy Tales Main Page

Lion's Share

LION and Jackal went together a-hunting. They shot with arrows. Lion shot first, but his arrow fell short of its aim; but Jackal hit the game, and joyfully cried out, "It has hit."

Lion looked at him with his two large eyes; Jackal, however, did not lose his countenance, but said, "No, uncle, I mean to say that you have hit." Then they followed the game, and Jackal passed the arrow of Lion without drawing the latter's attention to it. When they arrived at a crossway, Jackal said: "Dear uncle, you are old and tired; stay here." Jackal went then on a wrong track, beat his nose, and, in returning, let the blood drop from it like traces of game." I could not find anything, "he said, "but I met with traces of blood. You had better go yourself to look for it. In the meantime I shall go this other way."

Jackal soon found the killed animal, crept inside of it, and devoured the best portion; but his tail remained outside, and when Lion arrived, he got hold of it, pulled Jackal out, and threw him on the ground with these words:

"You rascal!"

Jackal rose quickly again, complained of the rough handling, and asked, "What have I now done, dear uncle? I was busy cutting out the best part."

"Now let us go and fetch our wives," said Lion, but Jackal entreated his dear uncle to remain at the place because he was old. Jackal then went away, taking with him two portions of the flesh, one for his own wife, but the best part for the wife of Lion. When Jackal arrived with the flesh, the children of Lion, seeing him, began to jump, and clapping their hands, cried out: "There comes cousin with flesh!" Jackal threw, grumbling, the worst portion to them, and said, "There, you brood of the big-eyed one!" Then he went to his own house and told his wife immediately to break up the house, and to go where the killed game was. Lioness wished to do the same, but he forbade her, and said that Lion would himself come to fetch her.

When Jackal, with his wife and children, arrived in the neigliborhood of the killed animal, he ran into a thorn bush, scratched his face so that it bled, and thus made his appearance before Lion, to whom he said, "Ah! what a wife you have got. Look here, how she scratched my face when I told her that she should come with us. You must fetch her yourself; I cannot bring her." Lion went home very angry. Then Jackal said, "Quick, let us build a tower." They heaped stone upon stone, stone upon stone, stone upon stone; and when it was high enough, everything was carried to the top of it. When Jackal saw Lion approaching with his wife and childrcn, he cried out to him:

"Uncle, whilst you were away we have built a tower, in order to be better able to see game."

"All right," said Lion; "but let me conie up to you,"

Certainly, dear uncle; but how will you manage to come up? We must let down a thong for you."

Lion tied the thong around his body and Jackal began drawing him up, but when nearly to the top Jackal cried to Lion, "My, uncle, how heavy you are!" Then, unseen by Lion, he cut the thong. Lion fell to the ground, while Jackal began loudly and angrily to scold his wife, and then said, "Go, wife, fetch me a new thong"-"an old one, "he said aside to her.

Lion again tied himself to the thong, and, just as he was near the top, Jackal cut the thong as before; Lion fell heavily to the bottom, groaning aloud, as he had been seriously hurt.

"No," said Jackal, "that will never do; you must, however, manage to come up high enough so that you may get a mouthful at least." Then aloud he ordered his wife to prepare a good piece, but aside he told her to make a stone hot, and to cover it with fat. Then he drew Lion up once more, and complaining how heavy he was to hold, told him to open his mouth, and thereupon threw the hot stone down his throat. Lion fell to the ground and lay there pleading for water, while Jackal climbed down and made his escape.

The text came from:

Honey, James A. South African Folk-tales. New York: Baker & Taylor Company, 1910.

Available from

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

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

Favorite African Folktales by Nelson Mandela

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

West African Folk Tales  by Hugh Vernon-Jackson

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

African Genesis: Folk Tales and Myths of Africa

Kaffir Folk-Lore by Georg McCall Theal

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


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