CGAfrica | Story time: Captivating African Tales to enjoy

Story time: Captivating African Tales to enjoy

CGAfrica | Tobi Ayegbusi
Tobi Ayegbusi
12 October 2023

Africa, a mesmerizing continent teeming with rich cultural narratives and captivating storytellers, offers a treasure trove of enchanting tales that entertain, educate, and inspire. The fabric of these stories is interwoven with profound moral lessons, making the African storytelling tradition nothing short of a wonder. Some of the best African tales are narrated in this article. Before we get to it, keep an open mind and be ready to sail a sea of fantasy. 


Anansi the Spider (Akan People, Ghana) 

Anansi, the spider, was known throughout West Africa for his cunning and clever ways. In one of his most famous adventures, he decided to gather all the wisdom of the world and share it with his people, the Akan. Anansi knew that Nyame, the sky god, possessed all the wisdom, so he hatched a plan. 


Anansi crafted a pot and filled it with sumptuous yams and other delectable treats. He took the pot to Nyame's heavenly abode and offered it as a gift, all the while pretending it was a humble request for the pot to be filled with wisdom. Nyame, pleased with the offering, agreed to pour his wisdom into the pot. 

But Nyame's wisdom was so immense that it overflowed from the pot, and some of it spilt on the ground for all to share. Anansi, ever the opportunist, quickly gathered as much wisdom as possible and returned to Earth. 

The Akan people were now blessed with the wisdom of Nyame, thanks to Anansi's cunning. This tale reminds us that intelligence and quick thinking can overcome even the most powerful of beings. 


The Tale of Sundiata (Mali) 

The epic tale of Sundiata Keita, known as "The Epic of Sundiata," narrates the life of a great hero and the founder of the Mali Empire. Sundiata was born to a mother who faced adversity, and he himself was born with a disability that left him unable to walk. 

However, as he grew, Sundiata displayed immense courage, intelligence, and strength. With the help of his loyal supporters, he overcame challenges, united the Mandinka people, and eventually defeated the oppressive Sosso king, Sumanguru. Sundiata's victory marked the establishment of the Mali Empire, one of the greatest empires in African history. 

The story of Sundiata celebrates the triumph of the underdog and the idea that greatness can emerge from the most unexpected places. 



The Creation of the Maasai (Maasai People, East Africa) 

The Maasai people of East Africa have a unique creation myth. According to their beliefs, Enkai, the god, descended from the sky to create the Maasai people. Enkai descended on a rainbow and brought with him, cattle, the most prized possession of the Maasai. Enkai gave the cattle to the Maasai, declaring them the chosen people. 

This myth is central to Maasai identity, emphasizing their divine origin and their deep connection to cattle. The Maasai's nomadic lifestyle and cultural practices revolve around their cattle, which they believe are a gift from Enkai. 


The Hare and the Lion (Southern Africa)


In this humorous tale from Southern Africa, Hare, a small but clever creature, challenges Lion, the king of the animals, to a contest of strength. Lion, confident in his power, agreed to the challenge. 

The contest involved climbing trees, with the winner being the one who could climb the highest. Lion, with his powerful limbs, ascended the tree with ease. However, Hare, cunning as ever, had a trick up his sleeve. He had hidden sharp objects in the tree's bark, and when Lion attempted to climb higher, he got scratched and had to concede defeat. 

The story teaches us that intelligence and wit can overcome brute strength and serve as a lesson in the power of cleverness. 


The Story of Oya and Shango (Yoruba, Nigeria) 

Oya and Shango are central figures in Yoruba mythology. Oya, the goddess of storms, fell deeply in love with Shango, the god of thunder and lightning. Their love was passionate and tempestuous, mirroring the storms they controlled. 

One day, Shango angered Oya with his infidelity, and their love story took a dramatic turn. Oya's fierce winds and rains became even more tempestuous, symbolizing her emotional turmoil. This tale illustrates the emotional intensity of love and the idea that even gods are not exempt from the complexities of human emotions. 


The Lion's Whisker (Ethiopia) 

In this Ethiopian story, a kind woman named Tsehaye was married to a man who had fallen seriously ill. Despite her best efforts to nurse him back to health, his condition worsened. Tsehaye consulted the village elder, who told her that her husband needed a lion's whisker to be healed. 

Determined to save her husband, Tsehaye ventured into the wilderness, found a lion, and managed to pluck a whisker from its mane without harming the creature. She returned with the whisker and used it to cure her husband, demonstrating the power of love, bravery, and determination. 

The Lion's Whisker is a heartwarming story that emphasizes the importance of going to great lengths to help those we love. 


Happy ever after 

These African moonlight tales are a testament to the rich storytelling traditions of the continent, each with its unique lessons, cultural significance, and entertainment value, making them cherished stories that continue to enchant and inspire people of all ages.