Bibliographic Information: This story is called “The Magic Tree” and was taken from the following collection:
Stuart, Forbes. The Magic Horns. Addisonian Press. 1974. pp. 56-68.
Ethnic Origin: African (many of the versions/variants come from East or West Africa, specifically)
Running time: 7-10 minutes
Power Center: The main power center for me is the hope that the turtle offers the other animals, after all the other animals have tried to find the name of the tree. The animals are almost too cautious to hope because they have been let down so many times. The turtle offers them all one last hope, and he does not let them down. When the turtle arrives and recites the name of the tree, and the fruit rains down upon the animals, there is a great sense of triumph, and a big power center.
Characters: The turtle, the lion, the monkey, the giraffe, the magician, and various other minor animal characters
Scenes: Scene 1—The animals of the kingdom are hungry and they wander around the country looking for food. They come upon the magic tree with fruit on top. However, the giraffe can’t reach the fruit, and the monkey can’t climb the tree to get to the fruit.
Scene 2—The turtle tells the lion (the king) about the magician who must give permission for the animals to eat from the tree, and who must also give the name of the tree. The fruit will fall only when the name of the tree is recited in the presence of the tree.
Scene 3—The Lion (King) goes to the magician; The magician gives permission to eat from the tree and tells him the name of the tree. The lion comes back, but trips on a root, bumps his head, and forgets the name of the tree!
Scene 4—Several other animals all try to retrieve the name of the tree, and all the animals fail.
Scene 5—The turtle goes to the magician, who tells him the name of the tree. The turtle makes up a rhyme to remember the name of the tree.
Scene 6—The turtle comes back to the tree and the animals, but he trips as the lion did. However, he is still reciting the rhyme, so the fruit falls from the tree. All of the animals enjoy the fruit, and the turtle is hailed as a wise hero.
Synopsis: There is a drought in the land, and the animals haven’t eaten for days. They search the countryside for any sign of food, and they come upon a tall tree with a lot of fruit on top. However, they cannot get the fruit down. The turtle tells the lion king that the fruit will fall only when permission to eat from the tree and the name of the tree are given by the magician. The lion goes to the magician, and permission to eat the fruit is granted. The magician also tells the lion the name of the tree, but when the lion gets back to the animals and the tree, he trips and bumps his head, and forgets the name of the tree. The lion then sends other animals to the magician to retrieve the name of the tree, but the other animals all fail for one reason or the other. Finally, the turtle decides to go to the magician. When the magician tells the turtle the name of the tree, the turtle makes up a verse to remember the tree’s name. When he gets back to the tree and the starving animals, he also trips on the root, but he is still reciting the verse. The fruit falls, and all the animals eat their fill, and the turtle is called Bojabi (the name of the tree) from then on.
Rhymes/Special Phrases: The rhyme the turtle uses to remember the name of the tree:
“Bojabi for you, Bojabi for me,
Eat the sweet fruit of Bojabi.
What will bring down the fruit of the tree?
Bojabi! Bojabi! Bojabi !
Audience : This story is good for preschoolers because of the funny words in it. Preschoolers love words like “Bojabi” and also the other words the lion uses when he messes up the name of the tree. The story also has a lot of animals in it, and their voices and motions to accompany them can be very entertaining to young children. Also, according to Erikson, three to six year olds are developing a sense of social responsibility, and imaginative play can help children learn the roles of society. This story is good in that it helps establish a ruling hierarchy (the king) and helps children learn about leadership. It also helps children learn about doing good things for the betterment of society. According to Piaget, repetition is important to children in this age group, and many things are repeated in the story, such as the journey to the magician’s cave, and the name of the tree. This story is short and pretty simple in plot, which maps nicely onto Huck’s opinion that children at this age have a short attention span. Overall, it is a catchy, pretty quick tale.
Versions/Variants: Williams-Ellis. Round the World Fairy Tales. “The Bojabi Tree”. New York: Warne, 1963.
Heady, Eleanor. Jambo Sungura: Tales from East Africa. Pp. 46-53.