For as long as it can be remembered, African folktale stories with moral lessons have been used by communities to serve purposes like entertainment and education. These tales draw from everyday things like animals and plants, although they sometimes extend to the supernatural and involve beings like giants, spirits, and gods.
African folktale stories reveal life lessons, spiritual teachings, and cultural knowledge and wisdom for the African community and cultural heritage. Here is a look at very short folktales with morals.
African folktale stories with moral lesson
Africa is a continent rich in history and stories. Below are 15 folk tales with morals, perfect for sharing with children or friends.
1. Why the cheetah's cheeks are stained
This is one of the many African folktales about laziness. This traditional Zulu story is about a lazy hunter who stole a cheetah's cubs, intending to train them to hunt for him instead of working himself.
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When the cheetah found her cubs gone, she was so heartbroken and cried so hard that her tears caused dark stains down her cheeks. With the help of a wise old man, the hunter was discovered, and he returned the cubs. The moral of this story is that people should not be lazy and should work hard to earn.
2. Where stories come from
How did stories originate? This African story about the origins of stories and the importance they play in making people happy explains it all. It is one of the popular Zulu folktale stories that follows the lives of one of the first people, Zenzele, his wife, Manzandaba and their many children.
This family worked hard on the farm, weaved baskets, carved things, tanned hides, and hunted day in and day out. They also had time to play together during the day, but they would be bored when they sat by the fire at night because it was too dark for them to engage in daytime activities and too early to go to bed.
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The kids wanted to be told stories, so Manzandaba was forced to go and hunt for stories. She set out and, in the process, met different animals, including the hare, owl, eagle, elephant, and tortoise. She narrated her day's events when she returned home, resulting in the first story.
3. Clever jackal gets away
This is another told famous folktale stories in Afrikaans and the Zulu community that follows the jackal who tricks a mighty lion into relieving him of the burden of rocks.
The jackal had gone hunting for the next meal when he heard a lion approaching, and because it was too late for him to escape, he had to devise a plan quickly.
The jackal started calling for help and told the lion that the rocks above them would crush and kill them unless the lion used his strength to prevent the worst. Meanwhile, the jackal would look for a tree to prop the rock.
However, the jackal never returns; long after, the lion realizes he is holding an unmoving rock. The moral of this story is that people should always be clever.
4. Jabu and the Lion
This is the tale of a boy, Jabu, who frees a lion from a deadly trap on the promise that it will not eat the boy.
However, the lion changed its mind and wanted to eat the boy anyway, which was when a jackal tricked it again back into its trap. The moral of this Zulu story is that promises should not be broken.
5. The curse of the chameleon
This story is about how the chameleon allowed himself to be tricked by the snake. God the creator had given the chameleon a package to deliver to mankind, but the chameleon allowed himself to be tricked.
After that, he became the slow animal we know today. It teaches the importance of being loyal and avoiding destruction that may cause us not to fulfil our mission.
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6. Honeyguide's revenge
This is the story of a honeyguide who directed a man, Gingile, to a hive so that they could share. However, the man was greedy and had it all for himself.
The guide was furious and decided to trick the man into getting some more honey from a leopard's nest. The man ended up hurting his bones because of his greed. The moral lesson here is that we should be satisfied with what we have.
7. King of the birds
When the creator made the animals, the birds did not have a leader, so the mighty fish eagle suggested that he become the king of the birds. The birds decided to compete for the strongest bird to determine the king.
However, a small bird tricked them and emerged the winner, showing that leadership is not all about size but skill and wisdom.
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8. Why the warthog goes about on his knees
The warthog tried to trick the lion as the jackal did with the rocks, but this time he claimed the roof was caving in and the lion should run away.
Wise to this old trick, the lion roared fiercely, and in fear, the warthog trembled and dropped to his knees. The lion was not hungry, so he ordered him to stay on his knees instead of eating him. The moral is that we should not blindly copy others but come up with our own original ideas.
9. The tortoise with a pretty daughter
In this Nigerian tale, a prince did not fall in love with any of the girls the king introduced him to, which made the king angry. As a result, he announced that if any man had a daughter who would steal the prince's heart, the girl and his parents should be killed.
A wise tortoise hid his beautiful daughter, but the prince came across the girl and instantly fell in love with her. Despite the rule set by the king, love won. The moral of this tale is that people should seek to have beautiful daughters regardless of wealth status, as the royal house may notice.
10. Why the moon waxes and wanes
This is a Nigerian entertaining and informative story of a very poor woman and the moon, in the form of a fat lady with hiding skin that gave out bright light.
Out of pity for the starving older woman, the moon allowed her to cut some of her flesh and eat it, and this went on until the moon became more petite and her brightness dimmed.
The villagers discovered what was happening and ambushed the old lady one night. This frightened the moon, which went up to the sky and never returned to earth. As a result, the moon undergoes various phases and becomes very thin and dim once a month.
The moral behind this story is that we should be generous to those who need us. This is the same generosity the moon showed a starving older woman.
11. Why the bat flies by night
This story from Accra and Nigeria explains the trickery of the bat that led him to be exiled after tricking a rat to its death. After that, the bat only flies at night. The moral of this story is to give careful thought to matters and that lies are bad.
12. Why the bat is ashamed to be seen in the daytime
This is also a story that encourages honesty and making sure that we keep control of our tempers. Outsmarted and exposed by the tortoise, the bat was forever disgraced and forced to come out at night only.
13. Why a hawk kills chickens
This is a story about justice and how important it is. The hen had accepted a marriage proposal from the hawk but overturned the decision at the last minute. In retribution, the hawk was permitted by the king to kill chickens.
14. Why the worms live underneath the ground
This story encourages the idea of strength in numbers, like the ants overwhelming the worms with their number. After the defeat, the worms were relegated to living underground.
15. Why dead people are buried
The moral of this story is that people should not be distracted easily like the dog was when the creator entrusted him with the secret to eternal life. When the dog got hungry, he forgot to deliver the message on time, and human beings ended up being buried because the foolish sheep told the wrong message.
These are some of the popular African folktale stories with moral lessons you can learn from. Even though most African folktales with animals may sound unreal, the next time you wish to sound wise, why not use these handy stories?
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Source: Briefly News