Oral Literature: Why the Dove has an untidy Nest

Long ago, animals lived in their own country. The hare was a progressive fellow and he thought that his land was beginning to look untidy. One of the ways his kingdom could be improved was for all the animals to build a decent place to live, rather than all wandering about living wherever they chose with no thought of shelter or home. This practice embarrassed him very much and he decided to do something about the shameful state of affairs.

A day was appointed for a general meeting, and messengers were sent out to summon everyone from the four corners of the land. Finally the assembly was gathered at the hare’s palace. The hare stood up and everyone was quiet. “My subjects – he said – this primitive custom that we have of sleeping about in the grass or branches or any convenient place is very shameful. What will people think of us? From this day forward, I decree that all the animals must make houses for themselves. I shall come personally to inspect all the houses when they are completed.”

The wasp, as everyone knows, is the greatest of all builders, and upon hearing this she rejoiced, for she thought how wealthy she would become when everyone requested her assistance in building houses for them. The wasp was indeed kept very busy building, as all the animals were anxious to obey the order of the king.

After many days of labour, each animal at last had a house in which to sleep and raise his young, each according to his own needs and personality. When all the houses were finished there remained only the dove who had no house.

“Wasp, when will you be able to build mine?’ cooed the dove.

“I will build your house when you have all the mud and sticks collected and put in one place. You must also draw all the water for the cement. I am not a common labourer to mix mud and draw the water myself,” replied the wasp.

The dove got ready and the wasp arrived singing, “We, va a mgererm, va a inya, man me maa we iya.”  (Bring water, bring dirt and I’ll build your nest.)

The dove heard that soon the hare would be coming to inspect the animals’ housing, so she worked hard for several hours, sweating and bringing mud and sticks to the wasp. But finally the dove became exhausted, so she ruffled her feathers and said to the wasp,  “Look, I will pay you for what you have done. I am tired and it is late. Let us stop work now.”

So today the dove collects a few roots and twigs, and makes her house haphazardly and in a hurry, not making fine houses as the swallows and white ants do. (Folktale from Tanzania).

Subscribe to our mailing list!

Recent Posts