The Leopard and the Sky God

Osebo is name of the leopard in the Ashanti folk tale. Ashanti is also known as Asante. He is part of the Akan ethnic group and are native to the Ashanti Region of modern-day Ghana.


This story tells us the reason why the tortoise has a shell. Enjoy it!



Osebo the leopard had the best drum in all Africa. It was a mighty, musical drum that captured the beat of the forest, the pulse of the earth, the heat of the jungle. He could play it loud, play it soft, play it high, play it low. BOOM-DI-DI-BOOM he played, even to the fireflies that danced at night. Now everyone wanted Osebo’s drum. Python wanted it. Elephant wanted it. Tortoise wanted it. But Osebo wouldn’t let them have it. “What about me?” asked Nyame, the Sky god. “Let me play it!” “No,” said Osebo. “It’s mine.” Nyame watched and waited, but Osebo never let the drum of his sight. “I’ll give a prize to the first animal who gets that drum for me,” said Nyame. “I’ll try,” said Python. He slithered over to Osebo. “May I see it?” he asked. “No!” roared Osebo, unsheathing his claws. Python slithered away. “I’m not scared of Osebo,” said Elephant. He found Osebo playing his drum in a tree. “Show it to me!” trumpeted Elephant. “Go away!” roared Osebo. Elephant charged at the tree. He shook it till the leaves rained down, but Osebo stayed where he was. “I couldn’t do it,” Elephant told Nyame. “I’m sorry.” Let me try,” said Tortoise. Now in those days, Tortoise had no shell, only a soft body. The other animals laughed. “You’re no match for Osebo,” they scoffed. “Wait and see,” Tortoise said. She found Osebo in his tree. “So Osebo!” she began. “You thought you the very best drum in the whole jungle. But have you seen Nyame’s?” “What are you talking about?” said Osebo. “ Nyame doesn’t have a drum.” “Oh, yes, he does,” taunted Tortoise. “It’s HUGE. It’s so big, he can climb right inside it.” “Well,” said Osebo, “that’s nothing. I can climb inside mine.” “I don’t believe you,” said Tortoise. Osebo sprang down from the tree. He crawled inside his drum. “See!” he said. Tortoise took the lid from Osebo’s cooking pot and clapped it over the end of the drum. Then she rolled it along to the Sky God. “I have it! I have it!” cried Nyame. Osebo crawled out, dizzy and dazed. “You can keep it!” he gasped. “And what would you like for your prize, little tortoise?” asked Nyame. “I would like a shell on my body, “Tortoise replied, “as hard as that drum, so that nothing can hurt me. “ And that is how Tortoise came to have her shell. As for the Sky God, he loved his drum. When the weather is stormy, you can still hear him play, loud and soft, high and low...

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