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In this tale told in Southern Africa, tricky Jackal is able to relieve his thirst without having to dig a dam…

The bones of the story:

  • Terrible drought in the land
  • Lion calls a meeting to discuss what to do
  • Animals agree that they should work together to build a dam so that when the rains came, they could capture the water to drink
  • All animals helped except for Jackal who made it clear that he wasn’t going to help
  • Rains came, dam is filled, and all the animals rushed to drink, only to discover that Jackal had arrived first, drunk his fill, and muddied the water by swimming in it!
  • Meeting of animals and Baboon sent to guard the water but tricked by Jackal
  • Another meeting and Tortoise sent to guard the water and tricks the trickster
  • Jackal sentenced to death by Lion
  • Lion asks Jackal how he wishes to die – variations here, but Jackal makes a cunning choice that allows him to escape
  • Lion sets after Jackal in hot pursuit
  • Lion traps Jackal in a cave but Jackal calls for help, saying that cave about to collapse. Lion finds him holding up a stone and comes over to help. Jackal proposes fetching a large stick to prop up rock so that he can be killed by Lion, to which Lion agrees.
  • Jackal creeps away and Lion died of hunger / is still there to this day…



ATU 55: The Animals Build a Road (Dig Well)