For generations, Ethiopian stories such as this, with their perceptive wit and useful lessons, have been used to entertain and instruct young children.
I am sharing these folk tales from the collection of stories by author Shlomo Bachrach, 1967.
Enjoy. Senait Mareligne
THE CROCODILE AND THE MONKEY
Once a young crocodile and a monkey lived near the Awash River. The monkey was very small and the crocodile was very big. These two animals were good friends. The monkey lived near the bank in a big tree, and the crocodile lived in the river and on the bank.
These animals did many things together. If the crocodile wanted to play, he said to the monkey on the bank, ‘ Come and play in the water.’
When the monkey wanted to ride on the water, the crocodile let him ride on his back. The monkey often brought bananas to the crocodile as a present.
One day the king of the crocodiles became ill. The crocodile doctor came to examine him. He told the king that the only medicine that would cure him was a monkey’s heart.
The king knew that the young crocodile and the monkey were friends. He called the crocodile and said, ‘I need a monkey’s heart. You are the only one who can get it for me.’
The young crocodile went away sadly. He did not want to hurt his friend, but he had to help his king. At last, he went to meet the monkey.
‘Come and ride on my back,’ he said to the monkey. ‘We will go out into the deepest part of the river.’
So the monkey got on his back. He trusted the crocodile. They went out into the middle of the river. Then the crocodile said to his friend, ‘I am sorry, but the crocodile king needs a monkey’s heart to make him well. I must take yours now.’
The monkey was very surprised, but he thought quickly, and then he said to the crocodile, ‘My friend, monkey’s don’t carry their hearts with them. They keep their hearts at home. Take me home and I will get mine for you.
So the crocodile came back to the shore with the monkey. When they got there the monkey jumped off the crocodile’s back and ran to his tree. As he ran, he shouted back to the crocodile, ‘You tried to trick me, so I tricked you. Goodbye, old friend.’
Then the crocodile swam away, thinking about the clever monkey. He was happy because he didn’t have to hurt his old friend.