Learning Center
Cameroon 1


This story is told by the people who live on the wet coast of Africa. 

The Clever Monkey

Once there were two cats who were very fond of eating cheese.  One fine day, when the women were busy talking together, the cats stole some cheese.  Then came the problem of dividing it into equal shares.  The cats eyed one another suspiciously, each thinking that the other would take the bigger portion. 
At last one cat said, "Let us ask a moneky to divide the cheese for us." The other agreed willingly and they approached a monkey , who just as willingly took the cheese.
"Fetch some scales," the monkey Said to the two cats.
When the cats returned, the monkey took a knife and cut the cheese into two pieces.  However, one piece was clearly much bigger than the other.
"Dear me!" Said the monkey.  "This will never do.  I will eat part of the big piece of cheese to make it weigh the same as the other."  
Before the cats could object, the monkey ate part of the cheese and, of course, he ate too much.
"Dear me!"  He Said.  "Now this piece is smaller.  I shall have to eat some of the other cheese to make the two pieces the same size."
By this time the cats realized that the monkey intended to eat all the cheese.  "Please do not bother with it anymore," they said.  "Give the cheese back to us and we will divide it ourselves."
The monkey continued to nibble at the cheese.
"I could not do that," he said.  "You would start quarreling again for sure.  T he king of all the animals would blame me for the conflict between you.  No, I must continue to bite first this piece of cheese and then that piece, until they are exactly the same weight.  If all the cheese is eaten in the course of my efforts, then that is fate and you must accept it."
The cats saw that the cheese would never be returned to them and turned away in disgust.
The monkey laughed and called after them, "You have learned a good lesson.  Never let greed lead you into foolishness. "
Then he finished enjoying the cheese.

A story from:
Folk Takes and Fables of the Middle East and Africa (pg 68)
By Robert Ingpen and Barbara Hayes

Chelsea House Publishers, New York 1994