And the Tortoise Burnt his Head!

And the Tortoise Burnt his Head!

Mar 08, 2024Elizabeth Yakubu

Long ago, in the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania, where the sun set the sky ablaze with fiery colors and the grass rustled with secrets, there lived a clever tortoise named Ijapa. He had a shell of many shades of brown, and his eyes sparkled with mischief. He was smarter than any other animal in the land, and he knew it.


One hot afternoon, as the sun was sinking low, casting long shadows over the plains, Ijapa felt a rumble in his belly. He smelled something delicious in the air, something that made his mouth water. It was yam porridge, cooked by the dog family, who were famous for their cooking skills. Their home was under a huge baobab tree, where they had a big pot of porridge bubbling over the fire.


Ijapa wanted that porridge more than anything. He imagined how it would taste, creamy and spicy, filling his stomach with warmth. But how could he, a slow tortoise, get to the porridge before the fast dogs? He thought of a clever plan, as he always did.


He went to the dog family, pretending to be respectful. "Good day," he said, bowing low. "I have news from the king. He wants you to come to his palace right away."


The dogs looked at each other, confused. Why would the king want them? But they felt honored, and they left their home, wagging their tails, and ran to the palace. Ijapa watched them go, his heart racing.


Now he was alone, and he went to the pot of porridge. His eyes grew wide—the pot was huge! His belly growled louder, telling him to hurry. But how could he take the porridge home?


Then he saw his hat—a worn-out thing that he wore on his head. He had an idea. He took off his hat, showing his bald head, and dipped it in the pot. The porridge filled the hat, and it felt hot on his head. He put the hat back on, hiding the porridge.


Just as he finished eating, the dogs came back. They saw Ijapa's hat, steaming like a volcano. "What's under your hat?" they asked.


Ijapa acted innocent. "Oh, nothing, my friends. Just a little shade for my head. It's very hot today, you know."


But the porridge was too hot. It burned through the hat, and it burned Ijapa's head. He cried out, and took off his hat. Everyone was shocked. The tortoise, who used to have hair, was now bald. His hair was on the ground, like dead leaves.


The dogs gasped. "You stole our porridge!" they yelled.


Ijapa smiled, his bald head shining like a gem. "Yes, my friends. But who's the fool now? I have the porridge, and you have nothing."


The dogs were angry, but Ijapa was already walking away, holding his hat. He had tricked them all, but he had paid a price. His bald head was a sign of his dishonesty.


And so, in the Serengeti, the story of Ijapa the bald tortoise was told for generations. It was a lesson, told around fires and under stars. Being clever could help you win, but sometimes, winning could make you lose something else.


And that, my friend, is how the tortoise lost his hair, and became bald forever, and never forgotten in the stories of Africa..

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