African folktales

African folktales

Over generations and generations, African folktales have been passed down from one mouth to another. In days gone by, these stories were told after a longs day’s work at night by the fire.
Essentially, folktales are a way of communicating and passing down various customs, traditions and African facts by word of mouth. In Africa, in the grand scheme of things and time, printed material is a fairly new development, so these stories had to survive through generations without being written down. African folktales are intended to teach people, particularly the young people, about life lessons and ways they should conduct themselves in order to succeed in life and love.

African folktales

Folk tales from Southern Nigeria


The Tortoise with a Pretty Daughter

How a Hunter obtained Money from his Friends the Leopard, Goat, Bush Cat, and Cock, and how he got out of repaying them

The Woman with Two Skins

The King's Magic Drum

Ituen and the King's Wife

Of the Pretty Stranger who Killed the King

Why the Bat flies by Night

The Disobedient Daughter who Married a Skull

The King who Married the Cock's Daughter

The Woman, the Ape, and the Child

The Fish and the Leopard's Wife; or, Why the Fish lives in the Water

Why the Bat is Ashamed to be seen in the Daytime

Why the Worms live Underneath the Ground

African folktales

The Elephant and the Tortoise; or, Why the Worms are Blind and Why the Elephant has Small Eyes

Why a Hawk kills Chickens

Why the Sun and the Moon live in the Sky

Why the Flies Bother the Cows

Why the Cat kills Rats

The Story of the Lightning and the Thunder

Why the Bush Cow and the Elephant are bad Friends

The Cock who caused a Fight between two Towns

The Affair of the Hippopotamus and the Tortoise; or, Why the Hippopotamus lives in the Water

Why Dead People are Buried

Of the Fat Woman who Melted Away

Concerning the Leopard, the Squirrel, and the Tortoise

Why the Moon Waxes and Wanes

The Story of the Leopard, the Tortoise, and the Bush Rat

African folktales

The King and the Ju Ju Tree

How the Tortoise overcame the Elephant and the Hippopotamus

Of the Pretty Girl and the Seven Jealous Women

How the Cannibals drove the People from Insofan Mountain to the Cross River

The Lucky Fisherman

The Orphan Boy and the Magic Stone

The Slave Girl who tried to Kill her Mistress

The King and the 'Nsiat Bird

Concerning the Fate of Essido and his Evil Companions

Concerning the Hawk and the Owl

The Story of the Drummer and the Alligators

The 'Nsasak Bird and the Odudu Bird

The Election of the King Bird (the black-and-white Fishing Eagle)

Author: Elphinstone Dayrell

Tanzanian folktales

Zanzibar folktales


The Monkey, the Shark, and the Washerman’s Donkey

The Hare and the Lion

The Lion, the Hyena, and the Rabbit

The Kites and the Crows

Goso, the Teacher

The Ape, the Snake, and the Lion


Mkaaah Jeechonee, the Boy Hunter

The Magician and the Sultan’s Son

The Physician’s Son and the King of the Snakes

Author: Various

Translator: George W. Bateman

 South African folktales

South African folktales Outa Karel's Stories


The Place and the People

How Jakhals Fed Oom Leeuw

Who was King?

Why the Hyena is Lame

Who was the Thief?

The Sun A Bushman Legend

The Stars and the Stars' Road

Why the Hare's Nose is Slit

How the Jackal got his Stripe

The Animals' Dam

Saved by his Tail

The Flying Lion

Why the Heron has a Crooked Neck

The Little Red Tortoise

The Ostrich Hunt

Author: Sanni Metelerkamp

South African folktales

South African folktales Old Hendrik's Tales


Why Old Baboon has that Kink in his Tail

Old Jackal and Young Baboon

Why Old Jackal Danced the War-Dance

How Old Jackal got the Pigs

When Ou' Wolf built his House

Ou' Wolf lays a Trap

Ou' Jackalse takes Ou' Wolf a-Sheep Stealing

When the Birds would choose a King which tells also why the white owl only flies by night

Why Old Jackal slinks his Tail

Why Little Hare has such a Short Tail

The Bargain for the Little Silver Fishes

Why the Tortoise has no Hair on

Why the Ratel is so Keen on Honey

Author: Captain Arthur Owen Vaughan