How the Zebra Got His Stripes

África do Sul 1432a

Long ago, when animals were still new on earth, the weather was very hot, and what little water there was remained in pools and pans. One of these was guarded by a boisterous baboon, who claimed that he was the ‘lord of the water’ and forbade anyone from drinking at his pool.

When a zebra and his son came down to have a drink, the baboon, who was sitting by his fire, jumped up. ‘Go away, intruders,’ he barked. ‘This is my pool and I am the lord of the water.’

‘The water is for everyone, not just for you, monkey-face,’ shouted back the zebra’s son.

‘If you want it, you must fight for it,’ returned the baboon in a fine fury, and in a moment the two were locked in combat. Back and forth they went, until with a mighty kick, the zebra sent the baboon flying high up among the rocks of the cliff behind them. The baboon landed with a smack on his seat, and to this day he carries the bare patch where he landed.

The zebra staggered back through the baboon’s fire, which scorched him, leaving stripes across his white fur. The shock sent the zebra galloping away to the plains, where he has stayed ever since. The baboon and his family, however, remain high up among the rocks where they bark defiance at all strangers, and hold up their tails to ease the smarting of their bald patches.

(African legend)

África do Sul 552a

Fotografias: João Martins Pereira

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