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 Who Thought Him Self Wiser Than His Mother

IT is said that when Lion and Gurikhoisip [the Only man], together with Baboon, Buffalo, and other friends, were playing one day at a certain game, there was a thunderstorm and rain at Aroxaams. Lion and Gurikhoisip began to quarrel. "I shall run to the rain-field," said Lion. Gurikhoisip said also, "I shall run to the rain-field." As neither would concede this to the other, they separated [angrily]. After they had parted, Lion went to tell his mother those things which they had both said.

His Mother said to him, "My son! that Man whose head is in a line with his shoulders and breast, who has pinching weapons, who keeps white dogs, who goes about wearing the tuft of a tiger tail, beware of him!" Lion, however, said, "Why need I be on my guard against those whom I know?" Lioness answered, "My Son, take care of him who has pinching weapons!" But Lion would not follow his Mother's advice, and the same morning, when it was still pitch dark, he went to Aroxaams, and laid himself in ambush. Gurikhoisip went also that morning to the same place. When he had arrived he let his dogs drink, and then bathe. After they had finished they wallowed. Then also Man drank; and, when he had done drinking, Lion came out of the bush. Dogs surrounded him as his Mother had foretold, and he was speared by Gurikhoisip. Just as lie became aware that he was speared, the Dogs drew him down again. In this manner he grew faint. While he was in this state, Gurikhoisip said to the Dogs, "Let him alone now, that he may go and be taught by his Mother." So the Dogs let him go. They left him, and went home as he lay there. The same night he walked towards home, but whilst he was on the way his strength failed him, and he lamented:

"Mother! take me up!
Grandmother! take me up! Oh me! Alas!"

At the dawn of day his Mother heard his wailing, and said-

"My Son, this is the thing which I have told thee:

"Beware of the one who has pinching weapons,
Who wears a tuft of tiger's tail,
Of him who has white dogs!
Alas! thou son of her who is short-eared,
Thou, my short-eared child!
Son of her who eats raw flesh,
Thou flesh-devourer;
Son of her whose nostrils are red from the prey,
Thou with blood-stained nostrils!
Son of her who drinks pit-water,
Thou water-drinker!'"

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


©Heidi Anne Heiner, SurLaLune Fairy Tales
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