THE GREEDY KING - a Burmese Folk Tale - Baba Indaba Children's Stories - Issue

A Greedy King

A Burmese Folk Story



Baba Indaba Children’s Stories



Published By

Abela Publishing, London



A Greedy King



Typographical arrangement of this edition

©Abela Publishing 2016



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Abela Publishing,

London, United Kingdom



ISSN 2397-9607

Issue 58




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Baba Indaba, pronounced Baaba Indaaba, lived in Africa a long-long time ago. Indeed, this story was first told by Baba Indaba to the British settlers over 250 years ago in a place on the South East Coast of Africa called Zululand, which is now in a country now called South Africa.

In turn the British settlers wrote these stories down and they were brought back to England on sailing ships. From England they were in turn spread to all corners of the old British Empire, and then to the world.


In olden times the Zulu’s did not have computers, or iPhones, or paper, or even pens and pencils. So, someone was assigned to be the Wenxoxi Indaba (Wensosi Indaaba) – the Storyteller. It was his, or her, job to memorise all the tribe’s history, stories and folklore, which had been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. So, from the time he was a young boy, Baba Indaba had been apprenticed to the tribe’s Wenxoxi Indaba to learn the stories. Every day the Wenxoxi Indaba would narrate the stories and Baba Indaba would have to recite the story back to the Wenxoxi Indaba, word for word. In this manner he learned the stories of the Zulu nation.


In time the Wenxoxi Indaba grew old and when he could no longer see or hear, Baba Indaba became the next in a long line of Wenxoxi Indabas. So fond were the children of him that they continued to call him Baba Indaba – the Father of Stories.


When the British arrived in South Africa, he made it his job to also learn their stories. He did this by going to work at the docks at the Point in Port Natal at a place the Zulu people call Ethekwene (Eh-tek-weh-nee). Here he spoke to many sailors and ships captains. Captains of ships that sailed to the far reaches of the British Empire – Canada, Australia, India, Mauritius, the Caribbean and beyond.


He became so well known that ship’s crew would bring him a story every time they visited Port Natal. If they couldn’t, they would arrange to have someone bring it to him. This way his library of stories grew and grew until he was known far and wide as the keeper of stories – a true Wenxoxi Indaba of the world.


Baba Indaba believes the tale he is about to tell in this little book, and all the others he has learned, are the common property of Umntwana (Children) of every nation in the world – and so they are and have been ever since men and women began telling stories, thousands and thousands of years ago.

Where in the World – Look it Up!

This next story was told to him by a sailor from Naungdaw Island Can you find Naungdaw Island on a map? What country is it in?

The Greedy King


Illustrated by the students at

Phaung Daw Oo Monastic Education High School,


A Greedy King

A Burmese Folk Tale


A story, a story

Let it come, let it go

A story, a story

From long, long ago!



Umntwana Izwa! Children Listen! Once upon a time, there was a king in a land far, far away who had a beautiful daughter whom he dearly loved. This king could be kind but was also very greedy.


One day while on an outing he came across a young person who was hungry and lost. He offered food and clothes, and then returned to his palace.


At night, while sitting by the window, an old man appeared and said, ‘Dear king, you are so kind. Do you recall helping someone with food and clothes? This was my grandchild. In return I will give you the chance to wish for anything you’d like.’


The king replied, ‘If I touch anything with my hand, it will become gold.’


‘Well,’ said the old man, ‘may your wish be granted.’ Then the old man went away.


The next morning, while walking in the garden, the king touched some leaves and branches and suddenly they turned into gold. When hungry, he picked up an apple and this too became gold. As his daughter approached him, he greeted her and held her and she immediately turned into a gold statuette.


As the king was crying, the old man reappeared and asked, ‘Now what do you wish for most?’

‘I want my dearest daughter back, nothing else,’ replied the king.


The old man smiled and said, ‘Now you can control your greedy mind.’


He removed the first wish and when the king touched his daughter again, she became human once more. They then lived happily ever after.

Umntwana, here ends my story.


good words and good deeds are food,

bad words and bad deeds are poison.



Salagahle umntwana!

(Salla-gah-shle Um’n-twaan-ah

Stay well my children!)



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THE GREEDY KING - a Burmese Folk Tale - Baba Indaba Children's Stories - Issue

ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 58 In Issue 58 of the Baba Indaba Children's Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the Burmese tale of the Greedy King. Once a greedy king does an act of kindness to a beggar and is later granted one wish. But will his wish be to help humanity or help himself. This story has parallels in the West. It is believed that folklore and tales are believed to have originated in India and made their way overland along the Silk and Spice routes and through Central Asia before arriving in Europe. Even so, this does not cover all folklore from all four corners of the world. Indeed folklore, legends and myths from Africa, Australia, Polynesia, and some from Asia too, are altogether quite different and seem to have originated on the whole from separate reservoirs of lore, legend and culture. This book also has a "Where in the World - Look it Up" section, where young readers are challenged to look up a place on a map somewhere in the world. The place, town or city is relevant to the story, on map. HINT - use Google maps. Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children's stories from around the world. Baba Indaba translates as "Father of Stories".

  • Author: Abela Publishing
  • Published: 2016-04-15 09:40:10
  • Words: 950
THE GREEDY KING  - a Burmese Folk Tale - Baba Indaba Children's Stories - Issue THE GREEDY KING  - a Burmese Folk Tale - Baba Indaba Children's Stories - Issue