HOW THE CHIPMUNK GOT ITS STRIPES
no different from the Squirrel – he had no stripes. This story tells how he got
the distinguishing stripes that we know today.
In the deep jungle where all the animals lived, a season of very heavy rains
had caused the forest to grow so thick that it was difficult for the animals to
move around the jungle paths. They held a meeting to discuss solutions and
decided that every animal that moves on the ground would contribute money to
pay for the clearing of the jungle paths. Birds who flew in the sky were exempt
from this tax.
The Chipmunk who was tiny in size but disproportionately huge in stubbornness
said to the other animals, ‘I will pay no tax even if it means I never walk on
the ground again’. So he took to the trees and hopped and jumped from branch to
branch without touching the ground. ‘He’s sure to come down sooner or later! said
one of the other animals, ‘then he will have to pay the tax.’ At this, the
animals dispersed and went about their business.
Days passed and the Chipmunk had still not touched the ground. All the other
animals, even the famously cunning Tortoise had paid their taxes, but the
Chipmunk still would not come down. Some began to feel sorry for him. ‘Perhaps
he has no money, for why else would he suffer and confine himself to a lifetime
of hopping on trees?’. They said ‘It is painful to see one of us land animals
reduced to such a lifestyle’ and they set up a collection fund to help the
Chipmunk. They placed a gourd under an Iroko tree where any animal who wished
to help the Chipmunk could put some cowries (for that was the currency at the
time) until there was enough to pay his tax.
A bird told the Chipmunk about this and the Chipmunk was thoroughly amused. ‘You
mean they have nothing better to do with their money than to pay my tax?’ he
asked. When night fell, he secretly made his way to the Iroko tree under which
the collection gourd lay, climbed down the tree and made away with the
The following morning when this nasty deed was discovered, the animals were
rightly upset. They tried to catch the Chipmunk but none could as the Chipmunk
was hopping from tree to tree faster than anyone could catch him. The animals
decided to banish the Chipmunk from the jungle for he had misused their trust
Now banished from his former home, the Chipmunk went to live amongst
Later on, during one of the several meetings that the animals hold in the
jungle, somebody asked if anyone knew what the Chipmunk did with the stolen
money and it was said: ‘He never put it to any good use but bought new stripes
instead’. All shook their heads in pity.