Short Story - The Gift of Fire
Fire being so important to us, it is not surprising that several mythologies of the world contain references to how fire was first revealed to or obtained by man.
In Polynesian mythology it was the god Maui who gave fire to mortals after stealing it from the fire goddess.
Prometheus of Greek mythology too stole fire from the gods to give to man.
The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert have their own legend about fire. Interestingly, in their tale, man gets fire through his own efforts and not through the kindness of any god.
-A Bushman Legend
Mantis, the creator-god, felt that mankind was not ready for the gift of fire. So he entrusted it to the ostrich who kept it safely under one of its wings.
A Bushman learnt that the ostrich had fire and made up his mind to steal it. So one day he paid the ostrich a visit.
“I’ve come to tell you my dream,” he said.
“Why should your dream interest me?” asked the ostrich.
“Because it concerns you,” said the Bushman.
“In my dream I learnt that if you were to stand with your wings spread out in the strong wind preceding dawn, you would soar into the sky like an eagle.”
“That’s interesting,” said the ostrich, secretly thrilled. Its greatest wish was to be able to fly.
“Do not pass up this chance to get the gift of flight,” advised the Bushman before leaving.
Before dawn the next day, the ostrich spread out its wings and waited to be lifted into the sky. As it waited, the Bushman crept up to it, grabbed the fire and ran.
That is how people got fire and that is why, say he Bushmen, the ostrich is not as smart as other birds. The loss of the fire upset it so much that it became feeble-minded.