Kaffir Folk-Lore by Georg McCall Theal

Barking Black-Backed Jackal by Beverly Joubert

Kaffir Folk-Lore
by Georg McCall Theal


Introductory Chapter Regarding the Kaffirs

The Story of the Bird That Made Milk

The Story of Five Heads

The Story of Tangalimlibo

The Story of the Girl Who Disregarded the Custom of Ntonjane

The Story of Simbukumbukwana

The Story of Sikulume

The Story of Hlakanyana

The Story of Demane and Demazana

The Runaway Children; or, The Wonderful Feather

The Story of Ironside and His Sister

The Story of the Cannibal's Wonderful Bird

The Story of the Cannibal Mother and Her Children

The Story of the Girl and the Mbulu

The Story of Mbulukazi

The Story of Long Snake

The Story of Kenkebe

Another Story of Kenkebe

The Story of the Wonderful Horns

The Story of the Glutton

The Story of the Great Chief of the Animals

The Story of the Hare

The Story of Lion and Little Jackal

Proverbs and Figurative Expressions


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The Story of the Great Chief of the Animals

THERE was once a woman who had occasion to leave her home for a short time, and who left her children in charge of a hare. The place where they lived was close to a path, along which droves of wild animals were accustomed to pass.

Soon after the woman left, the animals appeared, and the hare at sight of them became frightened. So she ran awav to a distance, and stood to watch. Among the animals was one terrible monster, which called to the hare, and demanded to know what children those were. The hare told their names, upon which the animal swallowed them entire.

When the woman returned, the hare told her what had happencd. Then the woman gathered some dry wood, and sharpened two pieces of iron, which she took with her and went along the path.

Now this was the chief of the animals; therefore, when she came on a hill over against him, the woman began to call out that she was looking for her children. The animal replied: "Come nearer, I cannot hear you."

When she went, he swallowed her also. The woman found her children alive, and also many other people, and oxen, and dogs. The children were hungry, so the woman with her pieces of iron cut some pieces of flesh frorn the animal's ribs. She then made a fire and cooked the meat, and the children ate.

The other people said: "We also are hungry, give us to eat."

Then she cut and cooked for them also.

The animal felt uncomfortable under this treatment, and called his councillors together for advice, but they could suggest no remedy. He lay down and rolled in the mud, but that did not help him, and at last he went and put his head in thekraal fence, and died.

His councillors were standing at a distance, afraid to approach him, so they sent a monkey to see how he was. The monkey returned and said: "Those whose home is on the mountains must hasten to the mountains; those whose home is on the plains must hasten to the plains; as for me, I go to the rocks."

Then the animals all dispersed.

By this time the woman had succeeded in cutting a hole through the chief's side, and came forth, followed by her children.

Then an ox came out, and said: "Bo! bo! who helped me?"

Then a dogy who said: "Ho! ho! who helped me?

Then a man, who said: "Zo! zo! who helped me?"

Afterwards all the people and cattle came out. They agreed that the woman who helped them should be their chief.

When her children became men, they were out hunting one day, and saw a monstrous cannibal, who was sticking fast in a mud hole. They killed him, and then returned to tell the men of their tribe what they had done. The men went and skinned the cannibal, when a great number of people came out of him also. These joined their deliverers, and so that people became a great nation.

The text came from:

Theal, Georg McCall. Kaffir Folk-Lore. London: S. Sonnenschein, Le Bas & Lowrey, 1886. Buy the book in paperback.

Available from

Kaffir Folk-Lore by Georg McCall Theal

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

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


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