African Folklore short story of Innocent Monkey and Lying Shark was told to an ancestor whose ancestors told them to them, who had received the African folktale from their ancestors, and so back into African folklore storytelling history.
African folklore with animals offers valuable moral lessons.
Once upon a time Bahati, the monkey, and, Aza the shark, became great friends.
The monkey lived in an immense mkooyoo tree which grew by the sea shore with half of its branches being over the water and half over the land.
Every morning, when the monkey was eating her breakfast of kooyoo nuts, the shark would put in an appearance under the tree and call out, “Throw me some food, my friend;” which the monkey fulfilled most willingly.
This continued for many months, until one day Aza said, “Bahati, you have done me many kindnesses: I would like you to go with me to my home, that I may repay you.”
“How can I go?” said the monkey; “we land beasts cannot go about in the water.”
“Don’t trouble yourself about that,” replied the shark; “I will carry you. Not a drop of water shall get to you.”
“Oh, all right, then,” said Bahati; “let’s go.”
When they had gone about halfway the shark stopped, and said: “You are my friend. I will tell you the truth.”
“What is there to tell?” asked the monkey, with surprise.
“Well, you see, the fact is that our king is very sick, and we have been told that the only medicine that will do him any good is a monkey’s heart.”
“Well,” exclaimed Bahati, “you were very foolish not to tell me that before we started!”
“How so?” asked Aza.
But the monkey was busy thinking up some means of saving herself, and made no reply.
“Well?” said the shark, anxiously; “why don’t you speak?”
“Oh, I’ve nothing to say now. It’s too late. But if you had told me this before we started, I might have brought my heart with me.”
“What? Haven’t you your heart here?”
“Huh!” shouted Bahati; “don’t you know about us? When we go out we leave our hearts in the trees and go about with only our bodies. But I see you don’t believe me. You think I’m scared. Come on; let’s go to your home, where you can kill me and search for my heart in vain.”
The shark did believe her, though, and exclaimed, “Oh, no; let’s go back and get your heart.”
“Indeed, no,” protested Bahati; “let us go on to your home.”
But the shark insisted that they should go back, get the heart, and start afresh.
At last, with great apparent reluctance, the monkey consented, grumbling sulkily at the unnecessary trouble she was being put to.
When they got back to the tree, she climbed up in a great hurry, calling out, “Wait there, Aza, my friend, while I get my heart, and we’ll start off properly next time.”
When she had got well up among the branches, she sat down and kept very still.
After waiting for what he considered a reasonable length of time, the shark called, “Come along, Bahati!” But Bahati just kept still and said nothing.
In a little while, he called again: “Oh, Bahati! Let’s be going.”
At this, the monkey poked her head out from among the upper branches and asked, in great surprise, “Going? Where?”
“To my home, of course.”
“Are you mad?” yelled Bahati.
“Mad? Why what do you mean?” cried Aza.
“What’s the matter with you?” said the monkey. “Do you take me for a fool?” Get out of there, and go home by yourself. You are not going to get me again, and our friendship is ended. Good-bye, Aza.”
Aza turned away and started swimming home with a heavy heart ashamed of deceiving a good friend who was trusting, generous and kind.
Links to more African Folklore
In everyday life, African folklore teaches lessons with ancient words of wisdom.
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The Bird That Made Milk African Folklore
Why Some Souls Are White and Others Black
Legend of Deepest Darkest Africa
Rabbit Angered Moon African Folktale
Nkasa Tree Test for Witches