How the frog came to be the king of the rivers and marshes

By Traditional, re-told by Frans Timmermans

How Frog came to be King of Rivers and Marshes


There was a time when animals and people lived on the earth harmoniously side by side. Each respected the other, and they went out of their way to be friendly and useful to each other.

The elephant being the King of the animals decided one day that there should be a King of the Rivers and Marshes. He thought it would be useful to have somebody responsible for alerting people to the coming of the first rains, so that they would have time to get ready and start preparing their tools and seeds.

The king of the animals sent out his trusted town cryer, the cockerel, with a message that any animal who wished to be considered should attend the King’s court the following morning. The cockerel dutifully made his way all round the animal village, passing the King’s messages to all and sundry. The next morning the elephant came into his court yard after having partaken of his breakfast, and found a number of candidates for the post had gathered there. The cat was there, and the monkey. Toad and frog stood side by side, flamingo was there and the crab had also turned up.


The elephant inspected each one of the candidates, and started weighing up their qualities for the position.

To the cat he said: “Cat, you don’t even like water. You run away and hide at the first sight of rain. How can I make you the king of Rivers and Marshes?” So the cat was dismissed.

To the monkey he said: “Monkey, I am very happy to see you here, but you are so playful and forgetful, I am afraid you might forget your duties because you always put playing first. I can’t consider you for the position”. So monkey was dismissed.

To the flamingo he said: “Flamingo, you would be very good for the post, you love being in the river, but I am afraid your voice just is not loud enough. Nobody would hear you! I can’t make you the king of rivers and marshes.” So flamingo was dismissed.

To the Crab he said: “My dear Crab. How could I make you the King?. You don’t even have a head! Where would we put your crown? You can’t be the king of the Rivers and Marshes, I’m afraid.” So crab was dismissed.

That just left toad and frog. The elephant scratched his head with his trunk, “Fellows”, he said, “I can’t really make up my mind between the two of you. I am sure you would both be very good at the job, you both have wonderful voices. I just can’t choose”. Then the cockerel suggested there could be a race to decide the issue. The king agreed immediately. “Let there be a race”, he proclaimed. “We will start here in the court yard, and the first to get to the river bank will be crowned king of the Rivers and Marshes!”


And so the race was organised. The king, followed by a host of animals, made his way to the river bank so he could see with his own eyes who the winner would be. The cockerel remained in the court yard with the two contestants, so that he could give the starting signal. When all was ready and in place, the cockerel let out a might screech, and toad and frog were off. They jumped and double jumped and triple jumped as fast and as long as they could. Toad was actually the quickest, and he had built up a small lead when suddenly he came to a halt. There in front of him was a wide and deep ditch. Toad could not remember it being there before, it must have been created during the last storm. Toad was not at all sure that he would be able to jump across. In the meantime frog had caught up with him, and also stopped. “Harrooh”, he exclaimed, “a little ditch, that’s nothing for me!” He took a mighty jump, using all the strength he had in his formidable hind legs, and comfortably made it to the other side. Toad knew he had to get across, so he took a deep breath, and used all his strength to jump, but poor toad, he just did not make it. He hit the side of the ditch, and tumbled all the way down to the bottom.


So Frog was the first one to reach the river bank and won the race. The elephant congratulated him, and he was duly crowned king of the Rivers and marshes. At his coronation, the king of all the animals, elephant, made a big speech. “Frog”, he said, “now that you are the King of the rivers and Marshes, your first duty is to announce the coming of the first rains, so that all the farmers can get ready to start doing their important work. You shall do this by singing you Croo Croo song as loud as you possibly can, and for as long as it takes to get the message to everybody!”


That is the reason why to this day, when people hear the frog’s song, they are very happy, because they know that the dry season is over and the rain they need to grow their crops is on its way.

Found among the papers of John Fumey, my deceased father in law, in Madina, Accra.