Snake and the Young Man


Snake vs Man

African Folktale of Snake and the Young Man


The Snake and the Young Man


The Nature of Things

Long, long, ago somewhere in Africa… When all the people and animals were new… A certain young man from a distance saw half a snake and a large rock appearing to be on top of it.

Upon cautious closer inspection, he realized the rock must have fallen on the snake from the pinnacle above, pinning it to the ground. Not meaning to be cruel and wanting to see if the snake was dead or alive, he curiously pulled the snake by the tail. The tail jerked back and a muffled cry was heard from under the large rock.

Considering the snake to be alive, the young man proceeded to carefully roll the rock from off the poor creature’s head. As the snake’s head was freed, it immediately tried to bite him.

In astonishment, the young man jumped back shouting “Stop, stop!” The snake paused.

“What are you trying to do?” said the quivering young man.

“I am going to bite you,” answered the snake, ever so coolly.

“How can you do that? I have just saved your life!”

“Well that’s the way things are with snakes you see… we bite”

“Oh no! Let’s counsel with the other wise animals first.”

“Ok, let’sss. But with whom?” Snake smiled.

“How about Hyena?” volunteered the young man in eager anticipation.

This time Snake’s smile grew even bigger. Having found Hyena, the young man explained what had happened between him and Snake. Well Hyena may not be so very wise. But he knew a good thing when he saw one, knowing that after Snake had bitten the young man, he could eat him too.

“What would it matter if you were bitten?” answered Hyena, with a few underhanded laughs.

“See!” said Snake, sliding up close to bite the young man.

Once again, jumping back, the young man cried. “Three… there must be three!”

“Three what?” sniggered Snake, pulling up short.

“Three wise ones. Only by a majority of three wise ones, can a matter be settled in the animal kingdom.”

“That’s fine, because you’re one down right now, so the next two you have to win. Who’s next?” said Snake, his silly smile growing even bigger than before.

“It’s your choice this time,” answered the now worried young man.

At that moment who should appear, but Jackal looking all fluffed up and happy.

“Hello all, why so glum?”

Snake started to speak but Jackal preferred to ask the young man his version instead. So the young man told Jackal the story, after asking Snake’s permission to address him. Jackal laughed, remarking that it could not be so and proceeded to walk on again. Snake butted in, insisting to Jackal it was indeed so, just as the young man had told him.

Turning back, Jackal now addressed Snake. “Why, why I do not believe that of you Snake, could be covered by a rock you could not wriggle out from under, impossible. Unless I saw it for myself, I will not believe it”

“We will show you.” exclaimed both Snake and the young man together.

“Very well, if you insist, show me the place so I can be an impartial judge in this matter.”

On arriving at the spot where the incident had happened, Jackal turned to Snake.

“Snake, slither over here and let yourself be reintroduced to the rock once more and lets see this matter through”

Snake was thinking overtime, ‘I’ve got nothing to lose, because when they roll that rock off me, I win and can bite the young man.’ With this clear in his mind, Snake came boldly up to the rock and lay still while Jackal and the young man rolled it back over Snake’s head. After a while under the rock, Snake realized he had been tricked by Jackal and tried every which way he could to get out from under that rock but to no avail.

The young man, feeling sorry for Snake, wanted to roll away the rock once more.

This time, clever old Jackal stopped him. “There you go again, with your morals. Look, in nature, if you are let free, you attack or eat what you see. You don’t owe anybody a favour for being set free. Speaking of morals. It was Snake’s own fault for believing in your and my morals, thinking we would set him free again. Did anyone tell him he would be set free? No!

If you roll away that rock setting Snake free, you will have lost the vote and Snake can then bite you. Anyhow, was it not Snake, who without gratitude wanted to bite you after you freed him in the first place?

No… Let Snake find his own way out from under that rock. That’s nature. In future young man, if you want to help something, be sure you know what you’re helping first.”

Upon this conclusion, both went their own ways, leaving Snake to fight his own battles. After all, that’s nature, it never forgives.

Moral of the story? If it bites, leave it alone.

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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 March 22, 2015
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