Embu & Mbeere - Fables and Legends

How Frogs lost their Buttocks

This story, narrated by Mwitungi Nyaga - an 80 year-old woman from Kiritiri - is from Ciarunji Chesaina's outstanding book "Oral Literature of the Embu and Mbeere" (1997: East African Educational Publishers, PO Box 54314 Nairobi, Kenya). See the copyright notice for textual extracts.

What made Frogs lose their Buttocks, narrated by Mwitungi Nyaga

Long ago, frogs were beautiful animals because they used to have buttocks. They lived in the water and sometimes, they lived on dry land.
   A time came when the land was struck by great poverty because of drought. It failed to rain for a long time until there was a great famine. Even drinking water could not be found.
   Now frogs were troubled very much by the young children because they had nothing with which to feed them. Now when the famine became unbearable, the big frogs starting eating the small frogs. The young frogs were eaten until there were no frog's children left in the land.
   After a short while, it started raining. Now there was plenty of water and even crops grew, and the famine was a thing of the past. When frogs saw how abundant water was and how beautiful the land looked, they started regretting for having eaten their children believing that it would never rain again. They started jumping in the flooded rivers singing:

"I ate my child thinking that it will never rain!"

The other frogs which were in the wells and even the ones which were in the dry land started replying:

"Me too, me too, I ate my child thinking that it will never rain."

The frogs continued singing until eventually they met at one place. The song and dance became so involving until it got a soloist. The soloist sang:

"I ate my child thinking that it will never rain."

And the other frogs replied,

"Me too, I ate my child thinking it will never rain."

The dance went on until it eventually became a competition between the frogs. Each frog would jump and then the other frogs, seeing how that one jumped, would try to jump higher. When each frog jumped it would drop down with a thud, meke! Whenever the next frog saw this it would jump even higher and also drop down, meke! Now the frogs continued competing with each other until they were flattened completely, losing all their buttocks.

Foolish competition caused frogs to lose their buttocks.

visit bluegecko.org

Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya
Copyright Jens Finke, 2000-2003

also by Jens Finke
Chasing the Lizard's Tail - across the Sahara by bicycle
Planosphere.com - fine art photography