Folktales Wednesday: Why The Monkey Looks Almost Human

Once upon a time, a group of animals gathered to mourn the son of the Lion, the king of the animals who had been killed by a hunter, and to discuss what they would do about the human hunters who were constantly menacing them. “We should swarm their village and murder all of them.” The tiger declared angrily, after all, some of us have teeth and claws, some others have horns, tusks, and hooves, some even have mandibles and stingers and many of us are stronger and much bigger than the humans are. If we attack their village as a swarm, they will not be a match for us.  ” No that would be a very terrible idea.” an elephant replied. “Have you forgotten that those deadly weapons that can take even  an animal as big as I am down from as far as a hundred metres, the ones they called guns? Half of us would be dead before we even launch any attack at all.” For a moment, all the animals had nothing to say to that. Then the dog said: “maybe if we become humans like them, they wouldn’t hunt us so much since we would look like them.” All the animals praised the dog for coming up with such a great idea, but then there was still the question of how the transformation will happen. The dog then told the animals that he knew an extremely knowledgeable medicine man, who could help them become humans and that they should all go to him.

So the animals went to the medicine man and earnestly begged him to help them turn into humans. The medicine man agreed to help them. He gave them a specially prepared oil in a calabash and told them that they must rub it on their bodies at sunrise and that any part of the body that the oil touches would turn human. He, however, warned them that the oil must not be left in the sun or exposed to the elements for too long or it would dry up and they would not be able to use it anymore.

The animals were happy at this, and gratefully took the oil home and put it in the shrine at the centre of their forest. they then chose sunrise the next day to be the time they will all rub the oil on their bodies and become human. Then the animals then threw a massive party to celebrate the fact that they would all be humans before long. They celebrated for the rest of the day and for all of the night and were enjoying themselves so much that they forgot the instruction that the oil must not be left in the sun. As the sun rose the next day, instead of going quickly to use the oil, the animals continued their party and did not still remember that their oil would dry up. As midday approached, it was the monkey who suddenly remembered the medicine man’s instruction, He raced to the calabash, but to his dismay suddenly found out that the oil was almost gone. there was only a tiny remnant left, he rubbed some on his face and his hands and all over his body. The oil worked and turned some of the monkey’s parts to human parts, but there wasn’t enough of it to turn the monkey completely human. He broke the calabash on the sandy ground and rubbed his buttocks on it, and the part of the monkey’s buttocks that the oil reached before it dried completely also went as bald as a human’s.

It was around that time that one of the other animals at the party suddely remembered that the oil they were given would have dried out. He raised an alarm and then all of the animals rushed to where they left the calabash.  All they found was the empty calabash, and the almost, but not quite human looking monkey. Since that day the monkey has been the animal that has come closest to looking human and that is why the monkey has a bald face, bald palms and a bald butt.

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