Legends are very old stories that were transmitted orally. They are usually intended to explain the universe, nature, and human relationships.
There are many legends in Africa, as this is a continent with a rich cultural diversity. Their folklore, that is, their traditions and cultural manifestations, is also quite diverse.
We have selected 6 African legends to let you know more about the culture of these peoples that contributed so much to the formation of Brazil.
1. Legend of the Frog and the Snake
This legend tells about the friendship between a frog and a snake.
One day a frog was walking and saw a thin, long and shiny animal. The frog asked:
– Hi! do you do stretched down the road?
The snake replied:
– I’m taking a little sun. I’m a snake and you?
– I’m a frog. Would you like to play?
The snake accepted and they played all afternoon. The snake taught the frog to crawl and climb trees, and the frog taught the snake to jump. They had a lot of fun and at the end of the day each went to their house, promising to meet the next day.
When the frog found his mother, he told what had happened, that he met a snake and became friends. His mother didn’t like it and said:
“You should know that the snake family is not nice.” They are poisonous! I don’t want to play with snakes anymore or crawl around anymore!
The snake when she got home showed her mother that she knew how to jump and said it was the frog who taught her. His mother didn’t like it either and said:
– We snakes have no friendship with frogs, they serve only as food. I don’t want you to play with the frog. And stop jumping!
When they met, the snake considered devouring the frog, but then remembered that afternoon of jokes and ran into the woods.
From then on they didn’t play anymore, but always lie in the sun thinking about the day they were friends.
2. Legend of African Drums
The origin of this legend comes from the lands of Guinea Bissau and explains how drums emerged, so important instruments in the culture of all Africa.
It is said that the white-nosed monkeys of the region wanted to bring the moon closer to Earth one day.
They had no idea how to do it. Until the smaller monkey suggested that they climb on each other’s shoulders to reach the moon.
The group of monkeys set the plan in motion, and the smaller monkey was the last to climb, reaching the sky and clinging to the moon.
But before they could pull the satellite, the pile of monkeys collapsed and everyone fell but the little monkey, who continued to cling to the moon.
A friendship then grew and the moon presented the little animal with a wonderful white drum, which he soon learned to play.
The little monkey lived for a long time on the moon, but one day he began to miss the earth, his friends, and nature. He then asked his friend to help him return to his home.
The moon was upset and replied:
“But why do you want to go back?” Aren’t you happy here with the drum I gave you?
The monkey explained that he liked it a lot, but missed it.
The moon was pitying, promised to help him and said to him:
– Do not touch the drum while it is not on land. Just play when you get down there so I know it’s here and I can cut the rope. Then you will be free.
The monkey agreed. He sat on his drum and was tied to a rope which began the descent process.
As he went down, the little monkey was looking at his drum and an irresistible urge to touch him arose. He began to play very softly so that the moon would not hear.
But even so, the moon listened and cut the rope as agreed. The monkey began to fall and upon reaching the ground, did not resist and died. But before, a girl who walked nearby saw the fall. She went to the monkey and he said:
– This is a drum. Please give it to the people of your country.
The girl took the instrument and ran to give it to her family, telling what had happened.
Everyone loved the drum and started playing it. Since then, the African people produce their own drums and whenever possible play and dance to their tunes.
3. Legend of the Chicken D’Angola
This is a legend that tells how the guinea fowl was raised.
It has long been said that birds all lived together in the same environment. But little by little, the feeling of envy grew between them and the coexistence became very difficult.
The most envied bird was the Blackbird. The male was very handsome, with an orange beak and black feathers; the female had a black and light brown body and a whitish throat. Everyone wanted to be beautiful like this species.
The Blackbird knew he was very handsome and envied and promised the other birds that he would use his magical powers to turn his plumes into brilliant shades of black if they all obeyed him.
However, not all birds were obedient. Blackbird then became very angry and changed the characteristics of the bird species.
Thus, the guinea fowl has been transformed into a lean animal with a constant weakness. His body became painted just like that of the leopard.
That way, the leopard would devour the guinea fowl because it couldn’t stand to see another animal as beautiful as him. That was the lesson that the guinea fowl received for her envy.
4. Legend of the Giraffe and Rhino
The legend of the giraffe is one of those stories that explain nature. It tells why this animal has such a long neck.
According to legend, the giraffe was an animal with a normal neck, just like other animals. Until there was a period of terrible drought, when the animals had already eaten all the undergrowth and needed to walk a lot to get water.
One day, on one of these wanderings in search of water, the giraffe found a rhino and the two began to wail. The giraffe then said:
– Look, friend … Many animals digging the ground for food, everything is so dry, but the acacias remain green.
The rhino agreed. And the giraffe went on:
“It would be wonderful to be able to eat these foliage at the top of the crowns.” Too bad we can’t climb the trees.
The rhino then had an idea:
“What if we were going to talk to the wizard?” He is very powerful and can help.
The giraffe loved the idea and they went to the wizard’s house to explain what they would like.
The sorcerer said this would be too easy and asked them both to come back the next day to give them a potion so that their necks and legs would grow and reach the soft leaves of the acacia.
The other day, the giraffe went to the wizard’s house, but the rhino did not attend because he was very happy eating some herbs he had found along the way.
The wizard offered the spell only to the giraffe and vanished.
The giraffe ate the magic potion and soon began to feel its legs and neck lengthening. She felt dizzy, but when she opened her eyes she realized how different everything was.
He soon spotted an acacia and could delight in its green leaves.
The rhino suddenly remembered the appointment and ran to the wizard’s house for the potion, but it was late and there was no more potion. He was furious that he thought he had been deceived.
He has since pursued the wizard through the forest and has also chased after all the people who cross his path.
5. Legend Ubuntu
This is a beautiful African legend that addresses values about cooperation, equality and respect.
It is said that an anthropologist visiting an African tribe wanted to know what were the basic human values of that people. For this he proposed a play to the children.
He then placed a basket full of fruit under a tree and told the children that the first one to reach the tree could have the basket.
When the signal was given, something unusual occurred. The children ran toward the tree all holding hands. So they all came together for the prize and could enjoy it equally.
The man was very intrigued and asked:
– Why did you run together if only one could win all the fruits?
To which one of the children promptly answered:
– Ubuntu! How could one of us be happy while the others were sad?
The anthropologist was then thrilled with the answer.
Ubuntu is a Zulu and Xhosa culture term meaning “I am who I am because we are all of us.” They believe that with cooperation happiness is achieved, for all in harmony are much fuller.
6. Legend of the Fox and the Camel
The legend of the fox and the camel comes from South Sudan, a country in northeastern Africa.
Legend has it that there was a fox named Awan who loved to eat lizards. She had already devoured them all on one side of the river, but wanted to cross over to eat more.
Turns out Awan couldn’t swim and had an idea to solve the problem. She sought out her friend Zorol, a camel, and said:
– Hello Friend! I know you like barley very much and if you carry me on your back I’ll show you a way!
Zorol readily accepted:
– Climb! We will!
Awan then climbed on his friend’s hump and then directed him to cross the river. When they got there, Zorol went to the barley field to eat while Awan reveled in the lizards.
The fox was soon pleased, but the camel was still eating. Awan then went to the barley field and started screaming and running.
The shouting of the fox caught the attention of the barley field owners, who went there and struck the camel’s head badly, which was injured.
When Awan found Zorol lying on the floor, he said:
– Let’s go, it’s getting dark.
Zorol then questioned:
– Why did you scream and start running? Because of you they hurt me and I almost died!
– I have the habit of running and screaming after I eat geckos! – Said Awan.
– Let’s go home then! – Spoke Zorol.
Awan climbed on Zorol’s back and the camel began to dance as they were crossing the river. Awan was desperate and asked:
– Why are you doing this?
“It’s just that I have the habit of dancing after I eat barley.” Replied Zorol.
At that moment, the fox fell from the camel’s back and was carried by the river. The camel in turn reached the other bank without problems. Awan then received a lesson for his recklessness.