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Be wise and choose without croaking

The Frogs Who Asked for a Leader

By an Antambahoaka from Mananjary[1]

Retold by Marcel Reyners – Translation into English by Greg Suffanti

As we know, frogs live in a pond. They have no leader, rule themselves and enjoy the greatest possible freedom. One day they gathered in large numbers and decided to choose a leader because the lack of one started to weigh heavily on their minds.

The frogs consulted the sun about their problem. Their desire for a leader convinced them that she would be a source of prosperity for them and their families.

The Frogs who asked for a Leader – drawing by Mirelva Romano

That day the sun burned fiercely: And she laughed when she heard the frogs’ request. She cut a small piece of wood and threw it into the pond, disturbing its surface. The frogs were terrified and didn’t dare come closer.

When everything was calm again and they saw that nothing was moving anymore, they gently approached the piece of wood. They watched it for a long time, and when she no longer moved, they surfaced without any fear.

They cried out:

We don’t want any object that just sits there. Give us another.

Then the sun sent a Heron. As soon as it arrived, it began eating the frogs as much as his stomach would allow.

Then the group of frogs secretly addressed the moon and begged him to intervene and take the Heron away and return the piece of wood.

Heron — photo by Joke Koppius

I have given you two leaders,

said the sun,

One gentle and one cruel. You should have kept the first one, my dear frogs. Since the Heron became your leader you miss your little piece of wood. Remember, therefore, the proverb: He who seeks softness, and then happens to meet bitterness, will not be able to endure it.

Therefore remember the proverb: He who seeks softness, and then meets bitterness by chance, will not be able to endure it.

[1] From the oral tradition of Madagascar, very similar to the fable of Jean de la Fontaine: Les Grenouilles qui demandent un Roi

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