Tag Archives: setswana story

The Stone and the Chiefs Daughter


[originally in Setswana, translated to English]

“This story is about three girls. One of the girls is the Chief’s daughter. The three girls were very good friends however the chiefs daughter was a petulant child because she had lived a life of entitlement. She believed she was better than everyone and everything else because of her important status in the village. Her entitled attitude went on for her entire life and no one could ever get her to change.

One day, all three girls were sent to go collect firewood through a narrow road filled with rocks and stones. Nthediane, the princess [chiefs daughter], tripped on a rock. After falling, she began to cuss out the rock to no end, spewing every insult under the sun until her anger subsided and the girls continued on along the road to collect all the firewood.

On the way back to the village there was suddenly a giant boulder blocking the path that was not there before. The stone from before had turned into this boulder and there was no way past. This made Nthediane angry once more so she began to yell at the boulder. She went on and on about how the Chief will hear about this and she can’t believe this rock is disrespecting her.

One of her friends began to apologize to rock with a song. The song went: “Please rock, I’m not the one who cursed you, let me pass.” After this song, the rock made a small opening and let the girl through and then closed behind her.

Now it was just two girls left. The second girl asked Nthediane to apologize so that they could all go home, but the princess refused. So the second girl apologized to the rock with the same song her friend sang, and once again a small opening let her through. Now just Nthediane was left and still she wouldn’t apologize.

The two girls ran to get the chief to tell him what happened. The chief and the entire village went back along the path to go and get the princess and bring her home, However, when the horde arrived, the boulder had become a mountain and buried Nthediane underneath.”


This story was told by K who is a middle aged woman who has lived in Botswana her entire life. K first heard this from her father as a child after he would get home from work. At that time parents didn’t really sit down and talk with kids like parents do now, so sharing stories was how they passed down information and gave advice. This story stayed with K because she believes to this day in the importance of respecting everything in the universe.

“Setswana tales are always to teach us something as children. In the villages we did not have TV therefore these stories were told around the fire as dinner was cooking as a bonding time with the parents and entertainment to the kids while teaching the kids a life lesson aswell. This story specifically teaches us to live in balance with nature. That not only is respecting adults, parents, and peers important, but also the world around you, no matter how seemingly insignificant. If you don’t respect the universe there are consequences.”


A major purpose of a tale is to have some sort of lesson or moral. This story is aiming to teach children to always be kind and humble regardless of how much power and importance you have, or how little power and importance the other person has. As is the culture in Botswana, one must always treat everything with respect whether they are poor, or the chief, or an animal in the bush, or a rock on the road. Additionally, the anthropomorphism of the rock aims to teach that respect does not only go for people, but everything around you. This legend, like many in traditional children’s stories, includes a song which makes it more appealing to a wider range of children. If a child is disinterested in the storytelling itself, they may be interested in the song, either way, they learn the tale and are in turn taught the lesson of the story. The parallels between this story from year and years ago is still relevant today with the issue of climate change, perhaps if this tale was told more widely around the would people would have greater respect for the planet we inhabit.