Sacred Texts  Africa  Index  Previous  Next 

Specimens of Bushman Folklore, by W.H.I. Bleek and L.C. Lloyd, [1911], at


The Bushman kills an Ostrich at the Ostrich's eggs; he carries away the Ostrich to the house. And his wife takes off the Ostrich's short feathers which were inside the net, because they were bloody; she goes to place them (on the bushes). They eat the Ostrich meat.

A little whirlwind comes to them; it blows up the Ostrich feathers. A little Ostrich feather that has blood upon it, it blows up the little feather into the sky. The little feather falls down out of the sky, it having whirled round falls down, it goes into the water, it becomes wet in the water, it is conscious, it lies in the water, it becomes Ostrich flesh; it gets feathers, it puts on its Wings, it gets its legs, while it lies in the water. It walks out of the water, it basks in the sun upon the water's edge, because it is still a young Ostrich. Its feathers are young feathers (quills); because its feathers are little feathers. They are black; for a little male Ostrich it is. He dries (his feathers) lying upon the water's bank, that he may afterwards walk away, when his little feathers are dried, that he may walk unstiffening his legs. For he had been in the water; that he may walk strengthening his feet, for he thinks that his feet must be in (Ostrich's) veldschoens, because his feet become strong. While he walks strengthening his feet) he lies down, he hardens his breast, that his breastbone may become bone. He walks away, he eats young, bushes, because a young Ostrich he is. He swallows young plants which are small, because a little Ostrich he is. His little feather it was which became the Ostrich, it was that which the wind blew up, while the wind was a little whirlwind; he thinks of the place on which he has scratched; he lets himself grow, that he may first be grown, that he may afterwards, lying (by the way), go to his house's old place, where he did die lying there, that he may go to scratch in the old house,[1] while he goes to fetch his wives. He will add (to the two previous ones)

[1. Making the new house on the old one.]

another she Ostrich; because he did die, he will marry three Ostrich wives. Because his breastbone is bone, he roars, hardening his ribs, that his ribs may become bone. Then he scratches (out a house), for he does sleeping (by the way) arrive at the house's place; he roaring calls the Ostrich wives, that the Ostrich wives may come to him. Therefore he roaring calls, that he may perceive the she Ostriches come to him; and he meets them, that he may run round the females; for he had been dead; he dying left his wives. He will look at his wives' feathers, for his wives' feathers appear to be fine.

When he has strengthened his flesh, he feels heavy, as he comes, because his legs are big, his knees are large; he has grown great feathers, because the quills are those which are great feathers; these feathers become strong, they are old feathers. Therefore he roars strongly, for the ribs are big. And he is a grown up Ostrich; his wings' feathers are long. He thinks that he will scratch, that the females may lay eggs; for his claws are hard, they want to scratch for he brings the females to the house's place. The females stand eating. Therefore he goes back, he scratches, while the she Ostriches eat there. He first goes to scratch drying the house, because it is damp, that the inside of the house may dry. The she Ostriches shall look at the house; one she Ostrich, she lies down to try the house, she tries whether the house seems to be nice; she first sleeps opposite the house, because the inside of the house is wet, as the rain has newly fallen. Thus they first lie opposite the house, they sleep opposite the house. She shall lie, making the ground inside the house soft; she first lies, making the ground inside the house soft, that the inside of the house may be dry, that another female may come and lay an egg in the inside of the house which is dry, for the earth of the house is wet. She first goes to lie opposite the house. One other female again comes, She comes to lay another new egg; she first comes to flap her wings in the house, for two small eggs stand (there); she again goes to sleep opposite the house. All the females are those who sleep at the house. He galloping in the dark drives the females to the house; he shall running take the females to the house; they all walking arrive at the house. Another female, a different one, lays another egg; they again flapping their wings peck at it. He drives the females away; he lies inside the house. These females, following each other, reach him at the house; these females send him off, they all lay eggs. He goes, for he goes away to eat. Two wives lie in the house; another wife also goes with him, they go to eat together; they sleep. The two wives sleep in the house. They two (the male and female) return early, they shall early send off the two wives, who had lain in the house. The wife who had been with him, lays another egg; the wives go, all the wives, whilst he lies down, that he may sleep at the house. He will drive away the jackal, when he thinks that the jackal is coming to the eggs, the jackal will push the eggs. Therefore he takes care of the eggs, because his children they indeed are. Therefore, he also takes care of them, that he may drive away the jackal, that the jackal may not kill his children, that he may kick the jackal with his feet.

Next: The Vultures, Their Elder Sister, And Her Husband.