Myth-Folklore Unit: South African Folktales

Overview. These South African Folktales were collected in the 19th century, mainly from the San people (Bushmen), nomadic hunter-gatherers who live in South Africa and in the neighboring countries of Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The focus is animal stories and, in particular, stories about the jackal, a dangerous and comical trickster figure. There are also many stories about the lion and his family, along with rabbits (and that rabbit can be quite a trickster himself!), and other familiar animals such as doves, tortoises, and snakes, plus distinctively African animals like the ostrich and the eland. There are tales of tiny animals too, like the many different kinds of ants who live in fear of the dreaded anteater, or the little "tink-tinkje" (finch) who aspired to be king of all the birds.

Language. These stories are told in modern English prose, so the language used should pose no difficulties.

Story Length. These are all single-page stories.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: South African Folktales. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

  1. The Lost Message
  2. The Monkey's Fiddle
  3. The Tiger, The Ram, and The Jackal
  4. The Lion, The Jackal, and The Man
  5. The World's Reward
  6. Tiger and Jackal
  7. Tink-Tinkje
  8. The Lion, The Jackal and The Rope
  9. Jackal Fools Lion Again
  10. The Hunt of Lion and Jackal
  11. Story of Lion and Little Jackal
  12. The Lioness and the Ostrich
  13. The Story of a Dam
  1. The Dance for Water
  2. Jackal and Monkey
  3. The Story of Hare
  4. The White Man and Snake
  5. Jackal, Dove, and Heron
  6. Elephant and Tortoise
  7. The Judgment of Baboon
  8. When Lion Could Fly
  9. Lion Who Thought Himself Wiser Than His Mother
  10. Lion Who Took a Woman's Shape