Wednesday, May 23, 2018

How the Zebra got his stripes - African Fable

African Fables, Folk Tales & Myths
Before the written language came to Africa in the late 16th century, stories or fables were carried forward verbally from one generation to the next.
Most of these stories have a moral point to them. They are used to educate, entertain or to explain animal behaviour. Sadly many fables are now quite forgotten, except for the few passed along here.

How Zebra got his stripes

In the early days when the earth was young, the land was hot and dry. Water could only be found in a few small holes scattered around the desert. At one such waterhole, Baboon stood guard. He proclaimed that he was the owner of this waterhole and no one else could drink there. He had built a bonfire close to the pool so that he could watch over it during the very cold desert nights. 

One day a white Zebra came by to quench his thirst after a very long and tiring journey. In these early days, Zebra had no stripes. He wore a dazzling coat of pure white fur. 

Seeing Zebra approach, Baboon jumped up in anger and tried to chase him away. Zebra shouted "This is not your water, you ugly monkey, it belongs to everyone!" 

Baboon was furious and told Zebra if he wanted water, he had to fight for it. Soon they were engaged in a fierce struggle. Locked in combat, they rolled around and around the waterholeFinally Zebra, with one mighty kick, sent Baboon flying high up into the rocks above the waterhole.

Baboon landed on the hard rocks on his rear-end with such a mighty thud, he has remained in the koppies (hills) ever since, nursing his bald red bottom.

Unfortunately Zebra kicked Baboon so hard that he lost his balance, falling into the fire. The hot fire left black scorch marks all over Zebra's fine white coat. Hurt and frightened, Zebra galloped to the plains where he has remained ever since. 

Ride safe when looking for water, my friends


p.s. Thanks to the folks at Raptor Retreat for this fable.


  1. Always liked Aesop's fables...and this variation used to impart morals and lessons is a great variation of same mechanism. I recently read a book with a different story of how Zebras got their fire involved, just anger from the deity involved.

  2. It is interesting how different cultures, many which never had any contact with one another, yet they have the same or similar fables to teach the same moral lesson.

    The same with religion. Many similarities in beliefs in widely different cultures/continents that never had contact with one another.

    Must be something in the human genes.


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