Bedtime Stories Folktales and Mythology Stories for Children

Zulu Folktale – The Beginning of Stories and Storytelling

stories from africa wood carving
Written by Poornima

Zulus live in Africa. Like you, the children who live there also like to listen to stories. But what would happen if there were no more stories? Read the story and find out how the problem was solved.

A very long time ago, there lived a woman named Manza and her husband Zen. They were Zulus from Africa. They had many children. They lived in a small village where they were very happy. 

They spent most of their time looking after their fields, weaving baskets or hunting. They would often spend time near the ocean, watching huge birds diving to catch fish or the crabs that came scampering to the shores. They loved the cool breeze which blew from the ocean and the roaring sound of the waves.

Zen was very good at carving and painting. Often he would carve all the things which he saw around from old tree stumps or stone. He would carve beautiful birds and animals as toys for the children.

By evening, when it was dark and they had nothing to do, Manza loved to tell stories to her children. Every evening they would all gather around the fire and listen to her stories.

Soon she ran out of stories. Even Zen did not have any story to tell. Then Zen suggested that Manza should go in search of stories and he would look after the children and the house. He would cook, clean and look after their crops. She agreed and said goodbye to her children and set off.

As she went along, she met many creatures.

She met Noh, the rabbit. She knew he wasn’t a very helpful rabbit, yet she tried. “Please tell me some stories which you know, for my children,” she said.

“Oh! I have plenty of stories,” he replied.

“That’s so kind of you. Please tell me a few of them which I can tell my children.”

“You see, I am very busy gathering food for winter. Come back some other time,” Noh said and hopped off. Zen knew he was telling lies and didn’t have any stories. She went further.

Then she met a Boah, the bear.  “Please tell me some stories which you can share, for my children,” she said.

“Who has time for your stories? I have so much to do to keep my home, gather food and feed my children. I am not like you humans, who have time for stories.” Saying thus, Boah walked away.

Zen saw Nadi, the kind elephant.

“Oh Nadi I have been walking for many days in search of stories for my children. You too are a mother and can understand my problem. Can you please help me?”

Nadi was kind and wanted to help her. She said, “I shall take you to Slander, the turtle who can help you. Come with me. ”

“Oh please do so. I shall be ever grateful to you.”

They walked up to Tugela River. Nadi called out to her friend, Slander the big sea turtle. “Oh Slander, you travel to all places and know all the secrets of the dark and deep sea. Please help Manza to find some stories from the Land of the Oceans and Seas for her children.”

Slander agreed and said, “Climb on my back and we shall go to the Land of spirit people.”

Manza was amazed as she had never seen a turtle which had such a big shell. She climbed over it and off they went into depths of the sea. They reached the bottom of the sea.

[adinserter block=”4″]

Manza saw a king and a queen seated on dazzling throne. She was afraid to look at them. So she bowed down before them.

“What do you want from us, Lady from the lands of humans?”

Manza told them of her wish to take stories for her children.

“Yes,” they said, “we have many stories. But what will you give us in exchange for those stories, Manza?”

“What do you wish?” Manza asked.

“Can give us a picture of your land and its people and things which exist there? We cannot go out of this water because we will die without water. We are eager to see your land. But you can help us if you bring a picture to us.”

“Oh, yes!” she answered. “I can bring that! Thank you, thank you!”

So Manza climbed back onto the turtle’s shell, and he took her back to the shore. She thanked him and asked him to return on the next full moon to take her under the sea with the pictures.

She told her family about her journey and how she met the King and Queen of the Land of Spirit. Zen eagerly agreed to carve and paint pictures of their land for them. All their neighbours came to listen to Manza’s adventures. They came to see Zen working day and night to carve pictures of birds, animals, trees and the people of their land.

Soon it was full moon again. Zen had finished his gifts. Manza tied all the gifts together on her back and rode on Slander’s back, down to the Land of Spirits.

The King and the Queen were thrilled to see the gifts. “What a beautiful land you have. How beautiful are your creatures. How beautifully your husband, Zen has carved them. Now here are our gifts for you.” They gave her a necklace carved from the best shells for Zen. “For you and your children,” they said, “we are giving you the gift of stories.” And they handed her the largest and most beautiful shell she had ever seen. “Whenever you want a story,” they said, “just hold this shell to your ear and you will have your tale!” Manza thanked them for their extreme kindness and headed back to her own world. She thanked the elephant and the turtle for helping her. When she reached home, she saw her family and all the people of her village waiting to welcome her.

Every evening all the village folk also gathered to listen to her stories from the shell. The stories never got over and that is how many stories came to be.

Read more folktales here.

Want a folktale from your part of the world to be read by millions? Send it to us at – either as a Word document or a good quality audio/video narration.

About the author


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


error: Content is protected !!