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Moral lessons from folklore

Module by: Siyavula Uploaders. E-mail the author

LIFE ORIENTATION

Grade 4

RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Module 9

MORAL LESSONS FROM FOLKLORE

Moral lessons from South African narratives/folklore

The following two stories are shortened versions of stories from Die Madiba Boek Tafelberg; 2002. This is a book containing Nelson Mandela’s favourite children’s stories. Learners read the two beautiful stories and try to determine the message conveyed by the stories.

  1. The snake chief (Zulu) (Steadfastness and courage) p.26

Bonakele, a poor widow with only one daughter, worked very hard to survive. She planted maize to live on but also collected edible wild plants such as umdoni berries to eat. When she had lots of berries, she exchanged them for dried goat’s meat or amasi. One day, while looking for berries, she came across a large snake eating all the berries.

“Oh no, Snake,” she said, “how am I going to get meat for my daughter and me if you eat all the berries?’

Snake knew Bonakele was frightened, so he made her a cunning offer: “I’ll let you pick a basketful of berries in exchange for your daughter.” Bonakele agreed and picked her basketful of berries. But as she walked away, she realised what she had done. She decided to outwit Snake and to go home in a roundabout way so that Snake could not find out where she and her daughter lived.

Bonakele was in such a hurry that she didn’t notice a purple berry falling from her basket every so often.

When Snake had eaten enough, he decided to go to claim his payment. Because of all the berries that had fallen from Bonakele’s basket, it was very easy for him to follow her. Shortly after Bonakele had told her daughter of the big mistake she had made, Snake slid into their hut.

But Bonakele’s daughter was loving and brave: “Mother, a promise must be kept. One’s word is one’s bond.” She brought a kaross for Snake to lie on and poured him a large calabash of amasi.

That night Bonakele was woken up by a deep male voice. A very handsome young man was sitting next to her daughter. The dried skin of the snake was lying next to him on the kaross. Without thinking, Bonakele grabbed the skin and threw it into the fire.

“You have broken the magic spell,” said the young man. “A brave girl has acted in an honest way and a foolish woman has burnt my skin.” And then he asked if he could marry the girl. They lived a long and happy life together and always had enough food to eat.

  1. Musoke’s cycling trip to the market (Uganda) (Good deeds are rewarded)

Musoke lived in a small village outside Kampala. He had just turned ten and felt like a big man - especially because his father had asked him to take the avocados to the market by bicycle that day. He started his journey early in the morning. It was important that the avos did not get bruised. He had hardly crossed the first hill when an old man, Kikyo, gestured to him to stop. “Musoke, my arthritis is killing me today. I wanted to take the hen and eggs to my sister in town. Won’t you put her on your bike and take her with you?”

Musoke knew he couldn’t really say no to the old man, so he loaded the red hen and eggs on top of the avos in the basket. He had hardly rounded the bend when Bosa stopped him. Bosa had broken his leg and was limping. “Musoke, big man, can’t you give me a lift? I have to go to the market but I’m really struggling with my sore leg.”

Musoke’s legs were sore from peddling and balancing with the extra weight and the eggs that weren’t supposed to break. But he felt sorry for Bosa. “OK, get on, but you’ll have to be careful, I don’t want to fall.”

Around the next bend a stone nearly hit him on the head. It was some of Musoke’s school friends who were jealous of him riding his bike to the market. Musoke got such a fright that he hit a rock in the road. One of the avos flew out of the basket - and hit the naughty stone-thrower right between the eyes. He was stunned. “Isn’t it good that I have the avos on my bike. Just look what good ammunition they were,” said Musoke.

Fesito, the second rascal, was very angry and tried to pull Musoke off his bike, but the little red hen furiously bit him on the hand because she was afraid that he would take her eggs. He thought it was a snake, so he screamed and let go of the bike as if it was a hot potato. “Isn’t it good that I picked up Kikyo’s little hen. Look how she protected us!”

Around the last bend Waswa was waiting with a long stick to get at Musoke and his load. However, Bosa stuck out his crutch, cleverly hooked the stick out of Waswa’s hand and sent it sailing through the air. “Isn’t it good that I gave Bosa a lift. Look how bravely he helped me!”

Musoke rode into the market, tired but proud. The avocados, the little hen and eggs, and his passenger all reached their destination safely. If Musoke had not been so helpful, he, his father’s bike and the avocados would still have been lying in the road!

Activity 1

To understand and dramatise the moral lesson in a story [LO 2.4]

Role-playing

Divide the learners into groups and let them dramatise the stories. Three actors are required for the first story. Make puppets from old socks. For the second story at least six actors are required.

Activity 2

To comment on a moral lesson by writing a short paragraph [LO 2.4]

Individual Assignment

Write a short paragraph on the lesson that can be learned from each story.

Consider the following:

When last have you done a good deed of which you can be proud? Try to do something today to make someone’s day better.

Assessment

LEARNING OUTCOME 2: SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

The learner will be able to demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to constitutional rights and responsibilities, and to show an understanding of diverse cultures and religions.

Assessment Standard

We know this when the learner

2.4 comments on moral lessons selected from the narratives of a range of cultural groups in South Africa.

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