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Home :  African Legends :  The Crocodile and the Dog

The Crocodile and the Dog

Bura Folktales Legend (Nigeria)

Long, long ago when the first dog was made, he was made with a long mouth and a short tongue. When he talked, his words were not said right, because his tongue was too short. When the first crocodile was made, he also had a long mouth, but his tongue was made to fit it. The crocodile could talk plain, because his tongue was made to fit his mouth and met his lips.

The dog decided to take a wife in a distant village, but he was ashamed of his speech. When he wanted to go and salute his wife's people, he decided to try to borrow the crocodile's tongue. He went to the crocodile and said, "Friend, I want to go and salute my wife's people, but my tongue is no good, it does not fit my mouth. I have come to beg of you to help me. Please lend me your tongue and let me go with it. As soon as I get back, you shall have your tongue back. I will lend you my short one until I get back."

The crocodile said, "Sure, that will be all right, friend. I will let you use it, but do not keep it long. Do not stay long." The dog said, "As soon as I can go and salute them, I will come right back and bring your tongue to you, friend." The crocodile gave his tongue to the dog and received the dog's tongue in exchange. The dog hurried off to salute his wife's people. He went with the tongue that fit his mouth.

When the dog returned, he did not want to give back the crocodile's tongue. He decided to be stubborn. After a while crocodile sent to the dog and said that they should tell the to bring back his tongue. The messengers said to the dog, "The crocodile has sent us to get what he loaned to you and to take it back to him." The dog said, "Go and tell the crocodile that I have nothing of him. What did I ever get from him? When did he ever give me anything? Tell him that I do not know of anything I ever received from him. What was it?"

The crocodile's messengers went back to the crocodile and said, "The dog said that he did not have anything of yours. He asked when you ever gave him anything, and what you gave him. He does not know of anything." The crocodile said, "What! Is the dog that kind of a fellow? Some day we will meet." The crocodile went away angry.

This is the reason why the dog and the crocodile are enemies, even to this day. They had this misunderstanding about a tongue long ago, and they are still enemies.


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