The Tortoise And The Elephant

The Tortoise And The Elephant is told to teach a lesson on wisdom, trickery, gullibility, and barvery.


The Tortoise and The Elephant



Once upon a time, there was a great king in Ggoban. This king ruled when animals could still talk. He was loved by all. Everyone believed that he would live forever. So it came as a shock to them when he fell sick. The king got very sick; every attempt to revive him proved abortive. The whole kingdom did not want to lose him, so they went to the Ikumejakako. He was the most feared herbalist in the kingdom. This was because he lived in the evil forest and always had the answer to everything. After examining the king, he proclaimed that if the king did not take a special brew from the body parts of an elephant that he would die within the next few days.

The entire town was in so much fear. Everyone knew it was almost impossible to capture an elephant, talkless of killing one. Everyone gave up on the king and decided that the ancestors wanted him back home. 

When the king noticed that his people had given up on him, he got very disappointed, and since he didn’t want to die, he called his chiefs for a meeting.

“My chiefs, thank you very much for coming,” the king started. “As you all know, Ikumejakako has declared that if I don’t drink a special brew from the body part of an elephant within a few days, I will die. But my chiefs, you know that I cannot die yet. I still have a lot to accomplish, and I know deep down that it’s not yet my time. So what can we do to solve this problem.” He left the floor open for their contributions.

“Well, my king. What is going on in our kingdom is very sad, and everyone is scared. But we know that capturing an elephant and killing one is an impossible task. Nobody in their right senses will embark on such a deadly task.”

“So how about we make them not be in their right senses?” One of the chiefs suggested.

“How do you mean?” The king asked him.

“My king, if we make a declaration and offer the person that will capture the elephant a very good price, we will be able to get a greedy person to do the task.”

The king nodded. “I like that idea. So what are we going to offer to this person?”

The king thought for a long time and then said. “I will give such a person half of my kingdom and my very beautiful daughter as a bride.” 

Immediately he made the declaration, everyone gasped. But they knew that the king was not joking. So before the day elapsed, the news of the offer was all around the kingdom.

Tortoise, who heard of the benevolent offer, was the first in the palace the next morning. He walked up to the king and said,

“My king, may you live long. I have come to accept the challenge, but before I embark on that, I want to make a request.”

“Go ahead,” the king said.

“What I want you to do for me is to dig a very big hole, and then you will cover the top with raffia and place a king-worthy crown on top of it.”

“Is that all?”

“Yes, my king.”

“Okay, I will order my bodyguards to do just that.” The king said. With that, Tortoise took some bean cake (akara) and set out on his journey to find the elephant. He walked for hours and finally met the elephant sitting under a tree.

“My goodness! You are still here?” He said to the elephant.

“What are you talking about?” The elephant asked him.

“Everyone in the kingdom has been looking for you. The king is dead, and they want to crown you as the next king of the land.”

The elephant laughed. “Come off it, Tortoise. You mean to say that the entire kingdom wants me to be their king?”

“Yes,” Tortoise looked very serious. “Look, they even made delicious meals for you. This is one of them.” He took out one of the bean cakes and handed it to the elephant.

“Wow!” The elephant exclaimed when he tasted the bean cake. 

“This is really delicious. Then what you are saying must be true.”

“Of course, it is true. Now, come. We must hurry and get you back to the kingdom so that you will be crowned king of the land.” 

Tortoise took the elephant back into the kingdom. When the people saw him coming with the elephant, they were very excited and started singing songs of praise. All the while, Tortoise was feeding the bean cake to the elephant.

“Wow, what you said really was true,” the elephant said smiling.

“See how happy they are to see me. I really am the next king.”

“Of course you are.” Tortoise continued feeding him the bean cake. 

When he approached where the raffia was, the elephant got so excited to see the crown that he ran toward it. As soon as he reached the crown, the hole underneath gave way, and he fell into it. Immediately, the king’s bodyguards came with knives and swords and killed the elephant.

Using his body part, they prepared the special brew, and once it reached the tongue of the king, he jolted back to life. The king was so excited that he called Tortoise in front of everyone and fulfilled his promise to him.



Moral lesson

There is always a solution to every problem.


More folktale and folklore



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *