This story was created by Kai Tuomi (author) and Samantha van Riet (Illustrator).
Scroll down to download the PDF story in English, isiZulu, isiXhosa, Sepedi, Sesotho, and Afrikaans.
The tale of Oxpecker and Buffalo
In the old days, Oxpecker had a bright yellow bill. He lived in a little hut in a patch of long grass. Each day he would sweep his hut before setting off into the grass to catch his favourite food. At night he would climb into his nestbed, his belly full of green grasshoppers, flies and wriggly worms.
If anyone came into the patch of long grass, Oxpecker would fly up and shout at them. He would peck them and make a fuss until they went away. He liked to live alone, and he didn’t want to share with anyone. One day, while Oxpecker was out searching for insects, he heard a low rumble, like the sound of thunder rolling in the hills, and something blocked out the sun.
“What now?” shrieked Oxpecker, flying up out of the long grass to get a better view.
A big, black animal with heavy horns was walking through the long grass.
“Hello,” said Buffalo. “I haven’t eaten anything in weeks. This long grass is exactly what I need. May I have some?”
“No! Go away!” shouted Oxpecker. “Well, I’ll die if I don’t eat something. There hasn’t been any rain for months. This is the only patch of long grass around here. Won’t you let me eat some of it, please?”
“Didn’t you hear me? Go away!” said Oxpecker flying around Buffalo’s head.
“But you don’t even eat grass,” Buffalo said. And then he tried again, “We could share the grass.”
“I don’t share! This is mine! Mine! Mine! Now go away!” shouted Oxpecker.
Buffalo’s forehead wrinkled and his eyes narrowed to slits. He got so angry that his tail swished back and forth, making a loud clapping sound as it struck the sides of his rump.
“Well, if you are going to be rude, I’m going to eat it anyway. I eat grass, that is what I do, and I am hungry, so here I GO, you rude bird,” said Buffalo about to chomp on some grass.
“You wouldn’t dare!” shrieked Oxpecker. “How are you going to stop me? Look at how big I am. And because you’re being so rude, I’ve decided that I’m going to eat and eat and eat until I’m full.” And with a loud MUNCH! CRUNCH! Buffalo started to eat.
This made Oxpecker so angry that the end of his beak turned bright red. Oxpecker flew around Buffalo’s head shouting and shrieking and whooping, but Buffalo just kept on eating. Soon all the long grass was gone. To make matters worse, Buffalo put his big hoof right through the roof of Oxpecker’s hut.
Oxpecker flew up onto Buffalo’s back and started pecking away at his skin. “That’s not going to work,” said Buffalo. “My skin is very thick. Even Lion has tried to bite me with his sharp teeth and I got away. You are too small, Oxpecker. And you deserved what you got. I was willing to share.”
“Well, that’s it then,” said Oxpecker growing suddenly quiet.
“I was only angry and rude because that was my home. Now I have no home and no food – all those delicious green grasshoppers, flies and wriggly worms that lived in the long grass are gone! Everything’s gone.”
Buffalo looked back at Oxpecker, who was crying, and then to the bare patch of earth and the broken hut.
“I’m sorry I destroyed your home,” he said, “but maybe I can make it up to you. I have a problem with insects, you see. I mean, just take a look at my back. There are always far too many insects hanging on and crawling all over me. You could eat them, and it would be really nice to have someone finally get rid of them for me.”
Oxpecker looked up and down Buffalo’s body and noticed all the little insects clinging to Buffalo’s skin. The bird’s tummy rumbled, but the thought of doing Buffalo a favour after everything he had done, made Oxpecker angrier and angrier. His yellow bill grew redder and redder.
“First you ate all my lovely grass!” shouted Oxpecker. “Then you wrecked my house. You actually put your big hoof right through the roof! Now you want me to eat all these insects as a favour!”
He walked up and down Buffalo’s back, pecking at the insects as he talked.
“You really are the worst, Buffalo! As if I would help you,” he said with his little mouth full of insects.
Buffalo simply shrugged and walked off with Oxpecker riding on his back, shouting and eating insects.
And they are still doing that to this day, but Oxpecker never forgave Buffalo, and his yellow beak stayed red forever.
To read the story in another language download a pdf document below:
Ibali likaSinqolankomo noNyathi
Translated by Kholisa Podile
Mandulo, uSinqolankomo wayenomlomo otyheli obengezelayo. Wayehlala kungquphantsi omncinane kwithafa elinengca ende. Yonke imihla ebetshayela ungquphantsi wakhe phambi kokuya engceni ukuya kuzingela okona kutya akuthandayo. Ebusuku ebeqabela kumandlalo wendlwane yakhe, isisu sizele mpu ziintethe eziluhlaza, iimpukane nemibungu ejubalazayo.
Ukuba kukho umntu ofika kweli thafa linengca ende, uSinqolankomo ebebhabhela phezulu angxole futhi amngxolise. Ebemnqola abonise ukungonwabi ade ahambe loo mntu. Ebethanda ukuhlala yedwa, futhi engafuni kwabelana namntu nganto.
Isilwanyana esikhulu, esimnyama esineempondo ezinkulu sasihamba kuloo ngca.
“Molo,” watsho uNyathi. “Andikhange nditye nto kwiiveki ezimbalwa. Le ngca inde yeyona nto ndiyidinga ngenene. Ndingakhe ndifumane kuyo?”
“Hayi! Suka apha!” wangxola uSinqolankomo.
“Kaloku, ndiza kufa ukuba andityi nto. Seziliqela iinyanga kungekho mvula. Eli thafa linengca ende lilo kuphela elikhoyo apha. Akunakundivumela ndikhe nditye, torho?”
“Akuvanga ukuba nditheni? Hamba apha!” watsho uSinqolankomo ebhabha ejikeleza intloko kaNyathi.
“Kodwa wena akuyityi ingca,” watsho uNyathi. Waphinda wazama kwakhona, “Singabelana ngengca.”
“Andabelani namntu! Yeyam yonke le! Yeyam! Yeyam! Khawusuke apha ngoku!” wangxola uSinqolankomo.
Ibunzi likaNyathi lafingana amehlo akhe acutheka angathi yimisikeko. Wayenomsindo kangangokuba wayeswahlaza umsila wakhe emva naphambili, usenza isandi esingxolayo ngokungathi kukuqhwaba xa ethwaxa ngawo emacaleni eempundu zakhe.
“Hayi ke, xa uza kuba krwada, ndiza kusuka ndizithathele. Nditya ingca, yinto endiyenzayo leyo, kwaye ndilambile, ngoku ke, NDENZA NJALO, ntakandini ekrwada,” watsho uNyathi xa eza kunqothula ingca.
“Akunakuyenza loo nto!” wantswininiza uSinqolankomo. “Uza kundinqanda njani? Uyabona ukuba ndimkhulu kangakanani. Phofu nangenxa yobu bukrwada bakho, ndenze isigqibo sokuba ndizakutya nditye nditye ndide ndihluthe.”
Ngokungxolayo kona UKUMAMFUZA! UKUKRWAMZA! uNyathi waqalisa ukutya.
Oku kwamenza wanomsindo uSinqolankomo kangangokuba incam yomlomo wakhe yajika yabengezela ukuba bomvu. USinqolankomo wayebhabha ejikeleza intloko kaNyathi engxola aphinde antswininize ebhomboloza, kodwa uNyathi waqhubeka watya.
Ngephanyazo yonke ingca ende yayiphelile. Kangangendlela awayedelela ngayo, uNyathi wagqobhoza uphahla lukangquphantsi kaSinqolankomo ngophuphu lwakhe.
USinqolankomo wabhabhela phezu komqolo kaNyathi waza waqalisa ukunqola isikhumba sakhe.
“Ayizi kunceda nganto loo nto,” watsho uNyathi.
“Isikhumba sam somelele kakhulu. Nkqu noNgonyama ukhe wazama ukundiluma ngamazinyo akhe abukhali kodwa ndaphuncuka. Wena Sinqolankomo umncinane kakhulu. Uvune into oyilimileyo. Mna bendizimisele ukwabelana nawe.”
“Sekunjalo ke,” watsho uSinqolankomo asuka aphel’ emqaleni amazwi. “Bendinomsindo ndagqibela ngokuba krwada kuphela kuba lowa ubungumzi wam. Ngoku andinakhaya futhi andinakutya – azisekho zonke ezaa ntethe ziluhlaza zinencasa, iimpukane nemibungu ejubalazayo ebezihlala engceni ende! Konke akusekho.”
UNyathi wajonga emva kuSinqolankomo, owayelila, waphinda wajonga ethafeni lomhlaba elingenanto nasendlwini eseyilibhodlo.
“Ndicela uxolo ngokutshabalalisa ikhaya lakho,” watsho, “kodwa mhlawumbi ndingakunika icebo. Ndinengxaki yezinambuzane, uyabona.
Jonga nje emqolo wam. Kusoloko kukho izinambuzane ezininzi ezijinga nezinyakazela phezu kwawo wonke umzimba wam.
Ungatya zona, kwaye kungakuhle kum xa ekugqibeleni ndinokuba nomntu ondisusela zona.”
USinqolankomo wawanyusa ewathoba amehlo akhe emzimbeni kaNyathi wazibona zonke izinambuzane ezazinamathele esikhumbeni sikaNyathi.
Aqala axuxuzela amathumbu entaka, kodwa ingcinga yokwenzela uNyathi ububele emva kwawo wonke umonakalo awenzileyo, yamcaphukisa ngakumbi nangakumbi uSinqolankomo. Umlomo wakhe waya uba bomvu ngokuba bomvu.
“Okokuqala uyitye yonke ingca yam ebintle!” wangxola uSinqolankomo.
“Emva koko ubhodloze indlu yam. Uyigqobhoze uphahla lwayo ngophuphu lwakho olukhulu! Ngoku ufuna ukuba ndikuncede nditye zonke ezi zinambuzane!”
Wahamba-hamba emqolo weNyathi enyuka esihla, enqola-nqola izinambuzane naxa wayengayeki ukuthetha.
“Akukho yakho kodwa, Nyathi! Ucinga ukuba ungancedwa ndim kakade,” watsho ngomlomo omncinane ozele zizinambuzane.
UNyathi wasuka wadlikidla amagxa akhe wahamba noSinqolankomo ekhwele emqolo kuye, engxola kodwa eqhuba ngokutya izinambuzane.
Kude kube namhla basenza njalo, kodwa uSinqolankomo zange amxolele uNyathi, kwaye umlomo wakhe owawutyheli sowaba bomvu unaphakade
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