The Chief, the Princess and the Leguaan


The Chief, the Suitor and the Kenge


African leguaan -

African leguaan or rock monitor photographed near the Crocodile River


They Trade Cattle for Wives

Long, long ago somewhere in Africa… When the earth and all the people and animals were new… There was a chief with fine daughters and many suitors from whom he would receive much cattle. All chiefs and important men, trade their daughters to husbands for cattle. This is commonly called lobola amongst the people.

There is a twist in this story though, since it involves a leguaan. What’s a leguaan, you may ask – well a leguaan is of the monitor lizard family and can climb trees very well, in fact. So read on and find out how a leguaan fits into this twist of an African folktale.

Our story continues with the arrival of a young suitor to see the chief. He was a tall strong and handsome young man well clothed in fine tribal dress. From the look of him the chief could see he was a wealthy young man.

African river where the leguaan live -

African river where the leguaan live


Thandi Gets a Big Surprise

Next morning early, the girl named Thandi went to fetch water with her water-jar as usual, but this time, arriving at the river, she saw a strange creature drinking at the edge. As soon as the creature caught sight of her, it darted off and with a loud voice it shouted at the girl.

“You are ugly” and climbed up a tree.

She stood wide mouthed gazing after this creature for some time, having never seen such a being before, and furthermore it spoke!

“Who do you think you are? I am beautiful; ask my father he is the chief.”

“Ugly, I said and that old goat would not know something beautiful if it stared him straight in the face. I of course am beautiful.” Shouted the leguaan back from the top of the tree.

The hut of the chief’s wives

The hut of the chief’s wives


Jamba’s Great Task

The chief thought for a while, and made up his mind that when the young suitor came back he would say to him, “If you want to marry my daughter you must catch that leguaan up in the top of the tree.”

Jamba was somewhat disconcerted when he heard this, but only asked to be shown the tree. When he was taken to see the huge smooth tree with the leguaan at the top branches, he was filled with hopelessness, and went away mournfully.

On Jamba’s return to the village, the girl’s father asked him, “Well, where is the leguaan?”


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Meet Our Authors: The Wildmoz team, Cari and Moz, have a lifelong passion for the Bushveld and share adventures and stories about Africa's good things. Wildmoz is Africa - the cradle of life! Travel writing about wildlife, African folklore, wildlife art, Kruger Park and wildlife safari info! Taste life as it is in Africa.
 Posted by on September 14, 2014