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Teaching of the Rain God

A Maasai Legend

One day, many years ago, the elephant said to the Rain God:

You should be very satisfied, for you managed to cover all earth in green; but what will happen if I tear off all the grass, all the trees and the bushes? No green will be left! Then what?

The Rain God answered him:

If I stopped sending rain, no more green will grow, and you would have nothing to eat. What will happen then?

But the elephant wanted to challenge him, and began tearing off all the trees, the bushes and the grass with his trunk, to destroy all the green of the earth.

So, the Rain God, offended, made the rain stop, and deserts extended everywhere. The elephant was dying of thirst; he tried to dig where the rivers were, but couldn't find a drop of water. In the end, he praised the Rain God:

Sir, I misbehaved. I was arrogant, and I repent. Please, forget it and let the rain come.
But the Rain God remained silent.

Days went by, and every day it was more dry than the day before. The elephant sent the rooster to praise the Rain God for him. The rooster looked for him everywhere, and in the end he found him hidden by a cloud. He said who he was, and he prayed for rain with so much eloquence that the Rain God decided to send a little rain. The rain fell as the Rain God had promised the rooster, and it formed a little pool just in front of where the elephant lived.

That same day, the elephant went to the wood to eat and left the tortoise the duty of protecting the pool, with these words:

Tortoise, if somebody comes to drink here, you will tell them that this is my personal pool and that nobody can drink from here.

When the elephant left, many thirsty animals came to the pool, but the tortoise would not leave them drink, saying:

This water belongs to His Majesty the Elephant; you cannot drink it.

But when the lion came, he was not impressed from the words of the turtoise. He looked at her and told her to keep out, and began drinking water till his thirst was calmed. Then he left without saying anything else. When the elephant came back, very little water was left in the pool. The tortoise tried to defend herself:

Sir, I am just a little animal and the other animals have little respect for me. The lion came, and I just went out of the way. What could I do? After that, all animals drank freely.

Furious, the elephant raised the foot and stamped on the tortoise with the intention of crushing her. Fortunately, the turtoise is very strong and she managed to survive. But since then, the tortoise is a bit flat below. Suddenly all animals heard the voice of the Rain God, which said:

Don't do as the elephant did. Don't destroy what you could need in the future, don't be arrogant, and don't try to own it all; let those who need it share your fortune.

Reproduced from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization website:

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