11. The Lemur and the Shrew

“The humans have fire,” said Lemur. “We need fire too!”
“I’ll go steal some fire,” said Shrew, “while you stay here and wait for me to return.”
Shrew went to the human village and found a fireplace where there was a faintly glowing coal. He puckered and blew gently. Then he blew harder. Finally the fire was strong.
Shrew came back with the fire and saw Lemur waiting faithfully, eyes wide open.
“Your eyes have grown so big!” said Shrew.
“Your snout has grown so long!” said Lemur.
That’s why Shrew’s nose is long now, and Lemur’s eyes are big.

[a Fang story from Gabon] 

Inspired by: "A Lesson in Evolution" in Where animals talk: west African folk lore tales by Robert H. Nassau, 1912.
Notes: You can read the original story online. This is a Fang legend; the shrew is named Unyunge, and the lemur is Po (you can read more about the bush baby or galago at Wikipedia). In the original story, Shrew visits several villages before he finds fire. Compare a similar Bulu story about Lemur and Mole.

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