Chameleon and Snake were friends.
“Snake, I’m going to show you something special,” said Chameleon one day. “Watch! I can change colors!” Chameleon climbed a tree trunk, turning brown to match. Then he walked onto a leaf and turned green. “Am I amazing or what?!”
Not saying anything in reply, Snake rubbed against the tree trunk, and her skin came off. All of it. She had completely new skin, bright and shining.
Chameleon stared at his friend in wonder, embarrassed about his boasting. He could change color, it was true, but Snake had outdone him, changing old skin for new.
[a Kaonde story from Zambia]
Inspired by: Kaonde Proverbs by John C. Ganly.
Notes: Quite a few of Ganly's proverbs are associated with stories, and he provides the story in the commentary that goes with the proverb: the chameleon boasted about changing colors, but then the snake did somethign even more remarkable, shedding its skin. This is proverb 14 in his collection, which also includes the Kaonde original (collected near Solwezi Town in Zambia):
14. The chameleon and the snake are friends.
Longolo ne mulolo bauba bulunda.
(longolo is the chameleon, and mulolo is the snake)
"We should be careful about boasting to others, because they might be more clever than we are."