Oral Literature: The monkey and the crocodile

Once upon a time the monkey and the crocodile were good friends. At midday, the monkey would always go to the riverbank and call the crocodile: “Crocodile come! Let us chat together.”

The crocodile would hear him and go to his friend to have some pleasant time together. One day the chief of all the crocodiles was severely ill. Several doctors tried to help him but could not find a cure. They all said that it would be worthy to try an ancient tradition: he should eat the heart of a monkey to get better. And so they told the crocodiles to be on the alert and hunt a monkey for their chief.

The following day the crocodile met with the monkey at the river bank. He told the monkey “I wish we could go together to visit a friend of mine across the river.” The monkey replied that he couldn’t swim. The crocodile offered the monkey his back to carry him across the river.

The crocodile took his friend in the middle of the river to the place of his chief. He told the monkey: “My friend, it is good that we came to visit my chief.  He is severely ill and the doctors said he would need a heart of a monkey for getting better. I wish, in name of our friendship, that you could give your heart.” The monkey was clever and answered considerately: “I will help you with my heart as you asked. However I left it on the tree at home. You should take me back so that I can give it to you.”

The crocodile was pleased and helped the monkey to get back. Once they reached the river bank, the monkey jumped swiftly and climbed his tree. Once on top of the tree he yelled to the crocodile: “You are a stupid crocodile, so go and look for a stupid monkey that will give you his heart. Personally, I want to keep my heart for it is precious.” Hence the monkey saved his life and feels safe staying in the trees. (Folktale from Nuer People – South Sudan)

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