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Home :  African Legends :  How the Heron got a Bend in its Neck

How the Heron got a Bend in its Neck

One day the jackal was hunting among some rocks when he spied a dove up above him. The ledge it rested on, however, was quite out of reach. ‘Little dove,’ called the jackal, ‘I’m hungry. Throw down one of your children.

‘Indeed I will not,’ said the dove.

‘Then I will fly up to you myself, and eat you too,’ replied the jackal. At this the foolish dove grew frightened and threw down one of the little squabs, and the jackal ran off with it. The next day the jackal threatened the dove with the same fate, and another baby bird went down his throat. The poor mother dove wept bitterly. The heron, passing by, heard her.

‘Why do you weep?’ asked the heron.

‘I weep for my poor babies,’ replied the dove. ‘If I do not give them to the jackal, he will fly up here and devour me too.’

‘You foolish bird,’ retorted the heron. ‘How can he fly up to you when he has no wings? You must not give in to his silly threats.’

So the next day when the jackal returned, the dove refused to part with another baby. ‘The heron has told me that you cannot fly after all,’ she said.

‘That nosy heron,’ muttered the jackal, trotting off, ‘I will pay her out for her wagging tongue.’ He soon found the heron at a cool pond looking for frogs. She looked down her beak at him.

‘What a long neck you have,’ said the jackal. ‘What happens when the wind blows? Doesn’t it break in half?’

‘No, I lower it a little,’ said the heron, suiting action to word.

‘And when the wind blows harder?’

‘Then I lower it a little more.’

‘And when it blows a real gale?’

‘I lower it right down to here,’ said the silly bird, lowering her head right down to the bank’s edge. The jackal jumped up and hit the heron’s neck such a crack in the middle that it broke. And from that day to this, the heron has a bend in her neck.


© 2005 Kiki AMEDJA, All rights reserved