Tortoise's Dream :: Book Sharing Monday - Eva Varga

February 15, 2010
Tortoise’s Dream
An African Folktale told by Joanna Troughton

I’ve had this story in my library for many years. It is one that my daughter requests frequently. Earlier this month, we participated in a Letterbox postal ring on Children’s Literature. Participants were instructed to create a stamp to represent their favorite children’s book. Sweetie selected Tortoise’s Dream and carved a delightful little tortoise image.

This is a simple African folktale about a tortoise that dreamt about a miraculous tree, the Omumbo-rombonga tree. Tortoise wanted to go find this tree but all the animals thought that Tortoise was too slow and they wanted to go instead. They all failed, as they didn’t see the obstacles in their paths. Lion was first, then Elephant, Hyena, Ostrich, Baboon and lastly, Giraffe! All of them were warned not to look around but to look out. Finally, Tortoise goes to look for the tree, though at a slower pace than the other animals. He didn’t look around like the other animals and was determined to find this tree he saw in his dream. In the end, Tortoise finds the tree and shouts, “Omumbo-rombonga!” All the different fruits came down and he shared it with all the animals. He then announces that they all should plant a seed.

Like many folktales, there is a message behind the story. Firstly, tortoise shows us determination. This was his dream and he knew he could “follow” his dream. He did it “slowly, but steadily”. He also faced the most dangerous obstacle of all the animals. All the other animals faced an obstacle that could easily be overcome and despite of it, they forgot the name of the tree. Tortoise’s obstacle was a deadly one and he bravely continued on his path despite the danger. He wasn’t put off by anything, he kept a cool head and moved on. This is how we should be in life. We should follow our dreams and don’t be put off by any obstacle, however simple, dangerous or deadly. You should continue on your journey to reach your goals. To achieve your dreams.

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