The marabou and the tree

A traditional African folktale about friendship, courage and loyalty, excerpted from “Griot. African Community Storytelling”, an Ayzoh book for Unesco.


A fire struck a forest. Threatened by the fire, all the animals in the forest fled except for a marabou. This marabou tried to extinguish the fire by taking river water in his beak and throwing it on the tree that was his home.

The tree told him to fly away since he stood no chance against the fire. The marabou answered that he had lived and fed all his life in the tree and that he was not going to leave just because there was a crisis.

So, the marabou kept trying to extinguish the fire. The gods in the sky became aware of the fire in the forest and the marabou’s efforts to extinguish it.

Eventually, the courage and loyalty shown by the parrot moved the gods and they began to cry. The tears became rain and the fire was extinguished.


The marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer) is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It breeds in Africa south of the Sahara, in both wet and arid habitats, often near human habitation, especially landfill sites.

A griot (/ˈɡriːoʊ/; French: [ɡʁi.o]), jali, or jeli (djeli or djéli in French spelling) is a West African historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet, or musician. The griot is a repository of oral tradition and is often seen as a leader due to his or her position as an advisor to royal personages.

The marabou and the tree

by Seble (Suri) Getachew time to read: 1 min
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