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Home :  African Legends :  The monkey trial

The monkey trial

Bura Folktales Legend (Nigeria)

One day two boys were wandering in the bush and they found some meat. They could not decide which of them saw it first. Each one thought that he had seen it first and each one said, "I saw it first." They would not agree that each should have half of it . Each one wanted the larger piece. They argued and argued and almost fought.

Finally they decided to take it to the monkey court for a trial. As soon as the monkey saw them coming he decided that he was going to taste that meat. The boys saluted him and told him everything that had happened. Each claimed that he had seen the meat first. When they had finished talking, the monkey said, "I think that I had better divide the meat for you and have each person take his portion without argument."

The monkey divided the meat, but one piece was larger than the other piece. The monkey picked up the larger piece and took a bite of it and ate it. When he laid down the piece from which he had taken a bite, he saw that it was the smaller of the two. He picked up the other piece and took a bite from it and ate it. While the monkey seemed to be trying hard, yet he could not get the pieces equal. Each time the piece from which he would take a bite would be the smaller of the two.

When the monkey saw that both pieces of meat were getting small, he said to the boys, "Go home. What little meat there
is I will keep for my fee. You shall not taste any of it." He drove them away without even giving them small pieces of meat.

This is how they lost all their meat. If they had been willing to agree between themselves each would have had a nice piece of meat.


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