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The Jumping Tortoise

Published January 8, 2018
Countries: Kenya
Age Levels: 8 and up

Kobe, the tortoise, was walking down the path towards the river when he met Tembo, the elephant. “Jambo (Hello),” Kobe said to the elephant.

Tembo stopped in his tracks. He looked down at the tortoise. “Jambo, little one.   You are so small down there that I could hardly see you.” It seemed that elephant was always picking on Kobe because he was so much smaller than the elephant.

“You are so big, and your eyes are so small. That is why you cannot see me.”

“My eyes are just the right size,” said the elephant. “You are just almost too small to see.” Then Tembo laughed, making Kobe feel bad.

“Can you see the top of your head?” asked the tortoise.

“No, it is too far above my eyes,” answered Tembo.

“Well, I can jump higher than your head,” said Kobe.   He looked up and stared into the elephant’s eyes to show he was serious.

“What a joke,” said Tembo. “Let’s see you try. Maybe you can jump as high as my toes.”

“I will show you how high I can jump,” said Kobe. “But not today! I have traveled far and am tired. Meet me here tomorrow, and I will jump right over your head.”   Then Kobe continued walking down the path towards the river.

“I’ll be here in early in the morning, little one,” laughed Tembo. It will be fun to watch you make a fool out of yourself.”

Kobe hurried as fast as a tortoise could to get to the river and find his wife. “I need your help, he told his wife. I am tired of Tembo teasing me because of my small size.”

Early the next morning, Kobe was waiting along one side of the path for Tembo. Kobe’s wife stood on the other side of the path. She stood hidden in the grass.

Tembo came walking down the path, swinging his trunk from side to side. He was looking forward to teasing the little tortoise again. “Are you ready to jump for me, little tortoise?” he called.

“Yes, I am,” answered Kobe. “Use your ears in addition to your eyes. You will see how high I can jump. Are you ready?

Tembo looked at the tortoise. Kobe shouted, “UP!” At the same time Kobe’s wife shouted, “DOWN!”

As the elephant turned his head to the other side of the path, Kobe hid in the grass, and his wife stepped out of hiding. The elephant stared down at Kobe’s wife, thinking she was Kobe.   Then she yelled, “UP!” And Kobe yelled, “DOWN” from the other side of the elephant. This time she hid, and he stepped out of the grass.

“How did you do that?” asked the elephant. “You are a mighty jumper. You jumped so fast I did not even see you. I will never tease you again.”

This was the only time Kobe showed off his jumping talents. But after that, Tembo, the elephant, always called him The Jumping Tortoise.”