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Dear Friends and Story Lovers,

Likua Kambembe is a member of the !Xun Council of Elders and carrier of a great deal of traditional stories. He helps direct the Council’s Kulimatji project – dedicated to the continued life of his community’s oral traditions. This word translates into “We tell our old stories”. (http://sanmemoryhouse.com)

Here is one of the traditional stories he told at the 2013 Kalahari Desert Festival, organized by the South African San Institute.

Beautiful Zebra and Crocodile

A long time ago, Crocodile lived in the Okavambo River, as he still does up to this day. One day, the beautiful Zebras came to drink water close to Crocodile’s home. When Crocodile saw their striking decorations, he swam closer to have a good look at the magnificent patterns on their skins.

Crocodile said to one of them: “Lady, you are very beautiful, where do you come from?

“Far from here, in the bush,” she replied.

“Can I go with you? You are so lovely, I want to marry you!” said Crocodile.

Zebra was very afraid of the crocodile and said: “Oh, you are making a very good choice. But you are a water animal. How will you come with me onto land to meet my family?”

Crocodile told her that she was so beautiful, he would just go with her. No matter what. And so they went. The two of them left the river bank and together, they walked into the bush.

After many long, dragging and tiring steps, Crocodile was hungry and thirsty. He was not used to this kind of walking on dry land.

The beautiful Zebra left him behind and ran ahead. Crocodile could not catch up with her.

In the meantime, Hyena was traveling in the bush looking for food, as usual. He came across Crocodile, who had dug himself into the sand for protection from the sun.

“Are you dead or alive?” asked stupid Hyena.

Crocodile pretended to be dead. He was hoping Hyena would carry him to the water, because Hyenas are well known to soak their prey in water before eating it. Hyenas hate dry food. They cannot swallow it, it gets stuck in their throats.

Hyena grabbed hold of Crocodile’s tale, pulled Crocodile to the river and pushed him in. By this time, Crocodile was furious at both the beautiful Zebra and stupid Hyena’s behavior. He was also starving. Crocodile opened his wide mouth, pulled Hyena into the water and swallowed him.

The news travelled fast. From that day on, the animals stayed away from Crocodile. This is why he lies so quietly beneath the water, hiding, not talking to anyone, just waiting to strike when an animal comes near him.

This story tells you two things. Never follow a beautiful lady to places where you do not belong. Secondly, the crocodiles lie everywhere in the rivers of the Okavango; you cannot see them, but they can see you. Many people lose their lives to crocodiles.

My story walks till here.

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Several donkey cars arrived during the Kalahari Desert Festival to help transport people whose city cars got stuck in the sand!

(photos Satsiri Winberg)

Thank you for your audience!