WANAN LITAFI TATSUNIA NE
THIS IS A BOOK OF STORIES
CUSTOMS, PROVERBS, ETC.
COLLECTED AND TRANSLITERATED WITH ENGLISH
TRANSLATION AND NOTES
R. SUTHERLAND RATTRAY, F.R.G.S., F.R.A.I.
OF EXETER COLLEGE, OXFORD
ASSISTANT DISTRICT COMMISSIONER, ASHANTI, WEST AFRICA
AUTHOR OF 'CHINYANJA FOLK-LORE'
QUALIFIED INTERPRETER IN HAUSA, TWI, CHINYANJA, MOLE
WITH A PREFACE BY
R. R. MARETT, M.A.
READER IN SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF
PRESIDENT OF THE FOLK-LORE SOCIETY
IN TWO VOLUMES: VOL. I
Published in 1913 at the Clarendon Press
IT is our privilege at Oxford to be visited from time to time
by officers of the Public Service, who modestly apply to us for
instruction in Anthropology, more particularly as it bears on
the history of the native races of the Empire. Not infrequently,
however, they bring with them a previously acquired stock of
anthropological information, such as almost takes away the breath
of their duly constituted teachers. Thereupon the latter feel
inclined to offer to change places; and, instead of teaching,
to play the part of learners in regard to them.
Mr. Rattray furnishes a case in point. When he joined our
School of Anthropology, he was already a past-master in all that
relates to Chinyanja folk-lore, a subject on which he had actually
published a useful book. Besides, though but recently transferred
from British Central Africa to the West Coast, he was already
at close grips with more than one of the languages current in
that most polyglot of regions.
To claim, therefore, any share whatever in the origination
of the present work would ill beseem one who merely offered sympathetic
encouragement when Mr. Rattray proceeded to unfold his latest
design. This design was to compass two ends at once-to obtain
trustworthy linguistic material, and to explore the inner secrets
of the Hausa mind-by giving a somewhat novel turn to an old and
As regards the collection of folk-lore, the approved method
-in fact, the only method likely to satisfy the demands of science-is
this: the observer must draft word-for-word reports of what he
hears; and must further give the original words, when a foreign
tongue is used, so that it may be possible independently to control
Such a method, however, is more easily prescribed on paper
than followed in the field. When the witness is illiterate-as
commonly happens when there is genuine folklore to be gathered-its
application proves exceedingly troublesome, for reasons that
may readily be divined. A more or less formal dictation lesson
has somehow to be given and received; and the several parties
to it are only too apt to conspire each in his own way to render
it a failure. Thus the story-teller, on the one hand, is probably
shy and suspicious at the outset; is put out of his stride by
the slightest interruption; and, becoming weary all too soon,
tends to take short cuts, instead of following to the end the
meandering path of the genuine tradition. The reporter, in his
turn, is incessantly puzzled by the idiom, more especially since
in such a context archaisms will be frequent; boggles over a
pronunciation adapted to a monotonous sing-song delivery, or
else, perhaps, to a dramatic mimicry carried on in several voices;
and is likely to be steadily outpaced into the bargain.
Mr. Rattray's happy thought, then, was to remedy the practical
shortcomings of the standard method by finding some one who,
as it were, could dictate to himself; who, in other words, could
successfully combine the characters of story-teller and reporter
in his single person.
Moreover, as Mr. Rattray was not slow to perceive, the existing
conditions of Hausa culture bring it about that the very type
of helper needed is with due search to be procured. A maalam
of the best class possesses all the literary skill which a knowledge
of Arabic and of the Arabic script involves. None the less, he
remains thoroughly in touch with his own people, a Hausa of the
Hausas. In his hands, therefore, the traditional lore loses nothing
of its authentic form and flavour. In short, the chance of literary
manipulation may be ruled out.
Hence it would seem, if I may venture to say so, that the
Government of the Gold Coast was no less wise than liberal in
its policy when, by the grant of a subvention, it enabled Maalam
Shaihu's work to be perpetuated in the fullest way, namely, not
only by transliteration and translation, but likewise by actual
reproduction in facsimile.
For, apart from its value as a masterpiece of artistic penmanship,
this clear and, I understand, correct calligraphy must prove
of great assistance to European students of Hausa to whose official
lot it falls to wrestle with the productions of the native scribe.
Then, conversely, if an educated Hausa aspire, as well he may,
to learn the English language, together with the use of the English
alphabet, he has here an invaluable means of comparing his own
system of written symbols with ours. So much, then, for the more
obvious advantages to be derived from a study of the md1am's
actual manuscript. Over and above this, it proves of assistance
to the philologist, as Mr. Rattray shows, by making clear certain
finer points of grammar in regard to which evidence was hitherto
lacking. Also, I suppose, simply as exemplifying the characteristic
differences between the African and the classical modes of writing
Arabic, it would not be without a certain scientific interest
of its own.
Concerning the worth of the collected matter to the student
of language and to the folk-lorist, I am hardly called upon to
speak here, even were I competent to do so. Suffice it to say
that, in respect of its contents, the book does not, of course,
claim to stand alone. Yet, though a considerable library of Hausa
literature is already in existence, it can well bear to be enriched
by another volume such as this, which manages to dispense with
the middle man of another mental type, and brings us directly
into contact with the native intelligence as it witnesses to
For the rest, I take it that the study of Hausa folk-lore
offers fascinating problems to the student, if only because it
calls for a critical sifting and weighing of the most drastic
kind. The culture of the Hausas is not, in any sense of that
much abused term, primitive. They have undergone interpenetration
on the part of the Fulani and other alien stocks. They have more
or less universally embraced Mohammedanism. They engage in trading
expeditions which bring them into touch with most of the peoples
of West Africa. Altogether, then, they are far away from that
state of aboriginal innocence in which a strictly homegrown tradition
perpetuates itself by means of stories that almost amount to
oral rites, so undeviating is their form, so solemn their import
On the contrary, the most characteristic feature of Hausa
lore, when purged of its more obvious accretions from without,
consists in the folk-tale; which some authorities go so far as
to regard as typically reminiscent of some degenerated and desolemnized
myth. Nor can it be denied that, for example, various survivals
in this region of what may be termed in a broad sense totemism
lend colour to the view that the animal story may have fallen
from a far higher estate, if the criterion of value be the seriousness
of the beliefs which it embodies. To the student of folk-lore
origins, however, the material available here is at least as
good as to be got nearer home; and, in so far as there still
exist in Hausaland odd corners where customs lurk of a quite
primaeval appearance, the chance of discovering the laws of change
involved is relatively the better.
Besides, quite apart from the purely scientific interest in
origins, the reader will come to understand the thoughts and
ways of the Hausas as they are now. Their notions about right
and wrong, for instance, are indicated pretty clearly by many
of the animal stories; seeing that each animal tends to represent
a type of character calling either for admiration or detestation,
and, being more or less humanized into the bargain, affords a
nucleus round which a nascent moral philosophy can be observed
Even more directly, too, may we obtain insight into the present
conditions of Hausa culture by studying what the maalam
has to say about their history, manners, and arts. If brief,
his notices are always business-like and to the point; while
he plainly has access to information-for instance, in regard
to bronze-casting by the cire perdue process -for which
the European investigator might for the most part snap his fingers
But, as the Hausas say, 'If you are not going to drink the
pap, stop stirring it.' The pap, I am convinced, is excellent.
So let us drink without more ado.
R. R. MARETT.
ON first proceeding to West Africa (the Gold Coast), and on
commencing a study of the Hausa language, the compiler of this
work was struck by the comparatively high standard of education
found among the Hausa MAALAMAI or scribes. Arabic characters
are used by them, as by the Swahili of East and Central Africa;
but, whereas any natives met with there possessed but a very
superficial knowledge of the Arabic language or writing, the
Hausas could boast of a legal, historical, and religious literature,
which was to be found preserved by manuscripts. The MAALAMAI
were everywhere the most respected and honoured members of the
community. It was disappointing, however, at any rate for one
who wished to study Hausa, to find that all their manuscripts
were written not only in Arabic characters, but also in that
language. This appears to be universally the case, even in Nigeria.
The use of Arabic to-day among the educated Hausas corresponds
to that of French and Latin in England in the middle ages.
The writer's intention was, as soon as he had acquired a sound
colloquial knowledge of the Hausa language, to collect some of
their folk-lore and traditions, taking down such information
as was required verbatim, and translating afterwards into English.
This plan he had adopted when collecting his Chinyanja
The advantage of such a system is that the original text will
help the student of the language to appreciate its structure
and idioms, in a way that the best grammars could hardly do.
The translator will also be bound down thereby. There will thus
be no room for embellishments or errors creeping in, as is liable
to be the case when the investigator has had to rely on the vagaries
of his cook, 'boy,' or other interpreter for his information.
It follows that such a collection will be of more value from
the anthropological standpoint. Indeed, of late years many collections
of native folk-lore compiled according to this method have been
called into being by the demand created by this new science of
As is to be expected, there are not many persons who have
the fortune-or misfortune-to spend four or five preliminary years
in acquiring a knowledge of the language of the people whose
traditions they hope to study; yet such a probation is very necessary,
if the collection is to be of any real value to the anthropologist.
Stories and traditions collected through the medium of an
interpreter are amusing, and might prove of interest in the nursery
(though much would have to be omitted or toned down, as savage
folk-lore is often coarse and vulgar according to our notions,
and hardly fit pour les juenes filles); but for the student
of anthropology such collections cannot be considered to possess
The anthropological theorist, who is probably some learned
professor at one or other of our great Universities, where he
made a life-study of primitive customs and beliefs, has, in most
cases, to rely for his data on the field-worker. He needs to
feel perfectly convinced that the information on which he is
seeking to base some far-reaching generalization is absolutely
correct; and this can hardly be the case, however skilled, conscientious,
or well trained the field-worker may be, if the latter be wholly
ignorant of the language of the people from whom he is collecting
Now the literary skill of the Hausas, already referred to,
led the writer to depart somewhat from the modus operandi employed
in his Chinyanja folk-lore, the subject-matter of which
was taken down from the lips of the raconteur. For the present
work the services of a learned MAALAM, by name MAALAM Shaihu,
were secured. He himself wrote down, or translated from manuscripts
in Arabic, such information as was required. Much of the work
contained in the present volumes involved, first, a translation
from Arabic into Hausa, secondly, a transliteration of the Hausa
writing, and thirdly, a translation into English from the Hausa.
During the writer's 'tours' of service in West Africa, as
also during his furloughs in England, this MAALAM, who was entirely
ignorant of English, made a collection of many hundreds of sheets
of manuscripts (1907-11).
In the meantime the present writer was making a study of the
Hausa language and script, by way of securing the key to their
transliteration and translation. He was fortunate, in the course
of his official duties, in being stationed for some time at YEGI
on the VOLTA river. YEGI lies on the main caravan route between
Nigeria and Ashanti. Each month thousands of Hausas from all
parts of Nigeria cross the river here, going to and from Nigeria
with kola or cattle. Such a position enables a student, even
better perhaps than if he were resident in Hausaland, to get
into touch with Hausas from all parts of Nigeria. It was thus
possible to select such stories or traditions as seemed most
generally and widely known, and therefore likely to be of historical
value on account of their antiquity.
The Hausa given in the text is that of Kano or Sokoto, where
by general consent the purest dialect is spoken.
The Hausa Manuscript. The writing is throughout clear,
correct, and legible. It has been written with the aya
between most of the words to facilitate easy reading. Some of
the specimens of Hausa writing that have been reproduced from
time to time are obviously the work of illiterate Hausas, or
at best are very carelessly written manuscripts, and as such
afford little criterion of the best work of these people. The
hasty scrawls, which, it is true, form the larger part of the
existing manuscripts, in which vowel-signs are missed out and
words run together, often cannot be deciphered by the Hausas,
and sometimes not even by the writers themselves, unless they
know the context or subject by heart. Such manuscripts are therefore
worthless for scientific purposes. They cannot, for instance,
serve to disclose those nice points of grammatical construction
which the perusal of a carefully written manuscript will reveal,
though they can hardly be noted in the spoken language.
The Transliteration. This has been given, letter by
letter, word for word, line by line. Thus it is easy for the
student to follow the original on the page opposite.
The Translation. As literal a translation as is consistent
with making the subject-matter at all readable has been given
throughout. It is primarily as a text-book for students of the
language that this work is intended, and for such a literal translation
will be of most use. The author would crave the pardon of the
general reader for the baldness and utter sacrifice of the English
idiom which such a style of translation must necessarily involve.
The latter may, however, find here and there a certain touch
of 'local colour' in the phraseology, which may compensate for
its other obvious defects.
The value of Hausa writings. Hitherto, perhaps, it
has not usually been deemed essential to know much about Hausa
writing. (A slight knowledge of it is necessary, it is true,
for the higher standard Government examination.) This work attempts
to go somewhat fully into the subject of the writing and the
signs used, in order to assist the student who desires a knowledge
of the writing that will enable him to decipher manuscripts as
apart from the printed type. The writer is convinced that
a thorough knowledge of Hausa writing is essential for any advanced
study of the language. Thus he has so far been rewarded for
the time spent in the minute perusal of the manuscripts comprising
the Hausa portion of this book by the further elucidation or
confirmation therein of grammatical structures not perhaps wholly
accepted as proved, and by the discovery of some new idioms which,
to the best of his knowledge, had apparently escaped the vigilance
of previous writers on this subject, or else had taxed their
powers of explanation.
The length of vowels, which is so distinctly shown in the
written word, does not hitherto appear to have had that attention
paid to it that it undoubtedly deserves. Yet the length of a
vowel may alter the meaning of a word entirely, e.g. guuda,
guda; suuna, suna; gadoo, gado, and soon. Indeed, an educated
MAALAM would consider a word as wrongly spelt whenever a long
vowel was written where it should have been short, or vice versa.
In Hausa writing such an error would amount not merely to the
dropping of an accent, as in English, but to the omission of
a letter. Moreover such a slip may lead to serious confusion,
since the tense of a verb, or even, as has been seen, the entire
sense of a word, may depend on the length assigned to the vowel.
The author of Hausa Notes, perhaps the best treatise
on the language yet written, remarks at some length on the apparent
'absurdity' of the want of any inflexion for the 1st, 2nd, and
3rd persons singular of the past tense, for the plural of which
the well-known forms in ka exist, and thinks the forms
for these persons are the same as those used for the aorist tense.
Yet a perusal of almost any half-dozen pages of the present manuscript
will reveal the hidden missing forms. Were the student to search
for these by ear only, he might easily never discover them, as
they are almost indistinguishable in the spoken word.
Again, the definite article, for many years conspicuous
[1. First noted by Professor A. Mischlich.]
absence, will be met with repeatedly in these pages in the
final nun, or ra, or the wasali or rufua
Enough has been said to show the value and importance of a
close perusal of Hausa manuscripts; but emphasis must be laid
on the fact that such writing must be the work of a learned MAALAM,
or probably these very details, which are of such importance
to the scientific investigator, will be omitted, either through
carelessness or ignorance.
Proverbs. So far as possible, the endeavour has been
made to omit such proverbs as have already been collected and
The Notes. The student is expected to be familiar with
the well-known works on the Hausa language by Canon Robinson,
Dr. Miller, and others; hence only such phrases, words, or grammatical
points as are not considered in these works are noticed here.
Acknowledgments. The debt is vast which the student
of any language owes to those who have by their labours reduced
that language to a definite form. This makes it possible in a
comparatively short time for him to master what it has cost the
pioneers many years of ceaseless labour to create out of nothing.
Availing himself of the fruits of their labour, he can thus move
forward to fresh fields of research. Such is the debt that the
writer owes to Canon Robinson, Dr. Miller, and others. His thanks
are also due to his friend Mr. Diamond Jenness, of Balliol College,
Oxford, for revising the English translation; to Mr. Henry Balfour,
Curator of the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford, for having had the
photographs taken that appear in this work, and for his valuable
notes on the same which are again published through the courtesy
of the Royal Anthropological Institute; to Professor Margoliouth
for having translated the Arabic lines which occur in the Hausa
script; to Mr. R. R. Marett, of Exeter College, Oxford, Reader
in Social Anthropology, his tutor, who by his wonderful enthusiasm
and ability may be said to have organized a school of working
anthropologists, building upon the noble foundations laid by
Sir E. B. Tylor and Dr. Frazer; to the authorities of the Clarendon
Press, who, besides dealing most generously with a work not likely
to prove remunerative, have likewise laid the author under deep
obligation by their friendly interest and advice.
Finally, the publication of this work has only been made possible
by the generous grant from the Government of the Gold Coast,
to whom, as also to the Secretary of State for the Colonies,
on whose recommendation the grant was made, the writer has the
honour to tender his sincerest thanks.
R. SUTHERLAND RATTRAY.
Sept. 8, 1911.
CONTENTS OF VOL. I
A SHORT HISTORY, PURPORTING TO GIVE THE ORIGIN OF THE HAUSA
NATION AND THE STORY OF THEIR CONVERSION TO THE MOHAMMEDAN RELIGION.
STORIES IN WHICH PEOPLE ARE THE HEROES AND HEROINES
1. The story of the slave by name 'The World'
2. How brothers and sisters first came to quarrel and hate each
3. The story of the boy and the old woman, and how the wasp got
his small waist
4. The story about a beautiful maiden, and how the hartebeest
got the marks under its eyes like teardrops
5. How the whip and the 'maara' spoon (a broken bit of calabash)
came to the haunts of men
6. A story about a chief, and how his sons observed his funeral,
and the origin of the spider
7. A story about an orphan, showing that 'he who sows evil, it
comes forth in his own garden'
8. A story about a witch, and how the baby of the family outwitted
her, and invented the first walled town
9. The doctor who went a pilgrimage to Mecca on a hyena
10. A story about a chief and his cook
11. A story about three youths all skilled in certain things,
and how they used that skill to circumvent a difficulty
12. A story about a giant, and the cause of thunder
13. A story about an orphan which was the origin of the saying
'The orphan with a coat of skin is hated, but when it is a metal
one he is honoured'
14. A story of a jealous man and what befell him
15. A story of a great friendship and how it was put to the test
16. A story about a test of skill
17. A story about Miss Salt, Miss Pepper, &c.
18. The story of Muusa (Moses) and how it came about that brothers
and sisters do not marry each other
19. A story about a hunter and his son
20. A story about a maiden and the pumpkin
21. The Gaawoo-tree and the maiden, and the first person who
ever went mad
A SHORT HISTORY, PURPORTING TO GIVE THE ORIGIN OF
THE HAUSA NATION AND THE STORY OF THEIR CONVERSION TO THE MOHAMMEDAN
In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful, and
may the peace of Allah be upon him, after whom there is no prophet.
This is the history of the Hausa (nation). It has been familiar
to every one from the time of their grandfathers and grandmothers,
(and) is a thing which has been handed down from the malamai
(learned men) and these elders. Any account other than this one
is not authentic. If a questioner ask of you (saying) I Where
did the Hausa people have their origin?' Say (to him) 'Truly
their origin was (from) the Barebari and Northerners'. And this
is the account of how this came to pass.
The king of Bornu had a horse with a golden horn. This horse
did not neigh just at any time, but only on Fridays. If it neighed
you would say it was a tornado. It was hidden away in a house.
Now the king had a son. He (the son) continually gave him who
looked after the horse money and robes in order that (he might
persuade him) to bring his horse out, and they should come, and
he should mate the horse with his mare. And it was always thus.
(And) one day the man who was looking after the (king's) horse
took (it) the horse out and brought it. The king's son too took
his mare out. They went into the forest and the mare was covered.
Now the king has (had) previously said that whoever was seen
(with) a foal from this horse at his house, he would have his
throat cut. Things remained at this, (and) one day the mare gave
birth, (and nothing happened) till the colt grew up, (when) one
day the king's horse neighed, then the young horse answered.
And the king said, 'At whose ever house they see it let (that
person) be killed (lit. be cut), and do not let him be brought
before me.' Then the councillors scattered (to make search) in
the town. They were searching for the young horse.
And they came to the house of the king's son, and behold as
it were the king's horse with its golden horn. Then the councillors
said, I The king has said we must come with you.' Then the king's
son lifted his sword. He cut down two men, the remainder were
scattered. Then he saddled up the young horse. He mounted. The
king ordered he should be seized and brought (before him). The
whole town mounted their horses (and) followed him. They did
not come up with him. He has gone his way. The king, moreover,
has given orders that his own horse is not to be mounted, and
if not his horse, then there was not the horse to overtake him.
The king's son (rode) went on and (eventually) dismounted
in the country of Daura. He saw the daughter of the king of Daura,
she possessed the town. He stayed with her. And one day she said
she wanted him in marriage and he too said he loved her. So they
married. The king's daughter became with child. She bore a child,
a son. She weaned it. She was again with child (and) bore a girl.
And that was the origin of the Hausa nation.
The Barebari and Daura people were their ancestors. But the
Mohammedan religion, as far as that is concerned, from Bornu
it came. Hausas and Barebari and whatever race (you can name)
in the West were at first in early times pagans. Then the maalamai
(scribes) said that this is what happened.
There was a certain man away there at Bornu from among the
children of their royal house, his name (was) Dalama. When he
came to the throne he was called Mainadinama, the meaning of
that is, 'a chief more powerful than any other.' After he had
reigned for some months then he sent a messenger to the Caliph.
Now at this time Abubakari Sidiku, the blessing of Allah be
upon him, he was Caliph. You have seen the beginning of his being
sent, referring back to that man (Mainadinama), was that he was
hearing about Mohammedanism before he succeeded to the kingdom.
Behold the name of his envoy whom he sent, his name was Gujalo.
At the time when the envoy came he found the Caliph's attention
occupied with a war. He said nothing to the envoy. All he said
was, 'Remain here.' Then he did not again remember his words
because his mind was so occupied with words of the war of the
father of the twins.
The messenger remained there till the messenger died. After
three months and a few days then the Caliph Abubakari Sidiku
he too died. After some months Umaru Ibunuhutabi was set up.
He was the Caliph after Abubakari Asidiku. Then he called to
mind the report of the envoy and his death. Then they held a
consultation, they his friends who remained. They joined their
heads about the question of sending an envoy to Bornu. Umaruasi
was sent with manuscripts of the Koran. It was said the writing
of Abdulahi the son of Umoru the Caliph, and turbans and a sword
and spears and shields and the kingly fez and such things and
plates; all these presents from the Caliph to Mainadinama.
When the envoy drew near he sent to them one to acquaint them
of the news of his coming. The king of Bornu and his men mounted
their horses and met him afar off. When he (the envoy) entered
his town, then he bound the turban on him, he was established
in his right to the kingdom, he was given the name of the king
of Bornu, he (the king) gave him everything he was told to give
him, because of the presents which he (the envoy) had been sent
with for him. He lived among them. He was instructing them (the
people of Bornu) in the creed of Allah and the names of His messengers,
may the salvation and trust of Allah be assured to them.
They continued to honour him, to the extreme that honour could
be carried. They sought a blessing (by eating) the remains of
his meals and his food and from the spot (he) set his feet. Half
of them were seeking blessing from the mucus from his nose and
his spittle (by rubbing it on their persons). They were climbing
the roofs in order to see him. They also sought blessing by touching
his robes and his slippers and his whip, until it was even said
they looked for a blessing from his beasts, and the remains of
their fodder and their dung.
Now he wrote manuscripts for them in the writing of his own
hand, the blessed one. He lived amid such works up to the very
end of (his) sojourn (and this went on) till he was informed
that, 'Other owners of (another) land are behind you (and) are
wishing for the Mohammedan religion, should they see you they
would follow you.'
He did not give (this report) credence until he had sent one
to spy out (the land), his name is unknown. He (the spy) went
and travelled over Hausa-land. He made secret inquiries, he heard
they were praising the Mohammedan faith and that they wished
for it. He returned and gave Umaru Ibunuasi the news. Umaru lbunuasi
told his people. He said they must go (and preach the Mohammedan
religion). They agreed.
Then he made preparations. He sent Abdulkarimu-Mukaila to
Kano. About 300 men, Arabs, followed him. When Abdulkarimu was
near to them (the people of Kano) then he sent one to inform
them. He (the messenger) came and said, 'Tell them the envoy
of the envoy has come.'
When he came to them he told them what (message) he had been
sent with. They believed him, they received the thing which he
had brought. Now at this time Kano was an unenclosed town but
not a walled town, the name of the men (man) at Kano (was) Muhamadu
Dajakara at the time when Abdulkarimu alighted amongst them.
He (Abdulkarimu) wrote them books in the writing of his own hand,
the blessed one, because he had not come to them bringing books
from Umaru Ibunu(l)asi.
And thus it has come to be reported that every one who wished
to be able to write well let him set out towards Bornu and remain-
there (till he had learned to write) and then return (home).
But Abdulkarimu continued to instruct them the laws of Allah
and the commands -of the law until they made inquiries about
things which were not (to be found) in Arabia. He did not know
what answer to give them. Then he said to them to leave the matter
open till he returned (to Arabia).
Among the things they were asking about were panthers, and
civet-cats, and rats, and servals, and tiger cats, and such like
(whether clean or unclean). He lived with them (many) months
(and) every day instructed them well in the Koran and the Traditions,
till at length he was informed, 'There is another town near this
town, it is called Katsina, should the people of the town see
you they would believe you and him who sent you.' When he heard
(them speak) thus, then he made ready, He set out himself to
go to it (the town).
When they got news of his coming, then they met with him afar
off. When he alighted among them he taught them about what (he
had come) to instruct them in. He instructed one who was to write
books for them. It was said, speaking of him, he did not write
the Koran with his own hand, and because of this the Kano people
surpass the Katsina in their knowledge of the Koran till to-day.
Then, after the completion of his work at Katsina, he went
back, going to Kano, (and) remained there a short time. Then
when he thought of returning to go to Bornu he said to them,
'Shortly I shall return to you with the answer to what you were
asking about.' Then he rose up and went away.
But many among his people did not follow him, only a few among
them followed him. The rest remained and continued to perform
great deeds in Kano. Their descendants are found (and) known
in Kano until to-day, till people called them seraphs, but surely
they were not seraphs, they were just Arabs. Of a truth Abdulkarimu
has set up a judge in Kano, and one to lead in prayers, and one
to slaughter (live stock), and one who was to instruct the youths
in the Koran, and one to call (them) to prayer.
He made lawful for them that which Allah had made lawful,
and forbade that which Allah had forbidden. When he returned
to go to Umaru lbunulasi he gave him an account of what they
had asked him about. And Umaru lbunulasi was silent (on the subject)
till he returned to go to the Caliph and then he sent an answer
to it (the question) after six months had elapsed. He made lawful
for them half of it, half he made unlawful. But Abdulkarimu did
not return to Bornu after his return to their (his, Abdulkarimu's)
town or to Kano. Thus (also) Umaru Ibunulasi, but he ruled over
Egypt after his return home.
Now the remainder of the towns were coming in, half of them
to Kano in order to know about the (new) religion, and half also
to Katsina, until the creed filled all Hausa-land. Now the Kibi
country, speaking of them, they refused (to adopt) the Mohammedan
religion, they continued in their paganism. They persisted in
it. Their kings, (these) were their names, Barbarma, Argoji,
Tabariu, Zartai, Gobari, Dadafani, Katami, Bardo, Kudamdam, Sharia,
Badoji, Karfa, Darka, Gunba, Katatar, Tamu. All these refused
the Mohammedan creed after his advent into the land of the Hausas.
Then at the time when Zaidu came to the throne [then] he became
a Mohammedan and those who were with him. The Kabi country became
Mohammedan up to the time of Bata-Musa. These were the kings
of Kabi under the Mohammedan régime. The first of them
was Zaidu, (then) Muhamadu, Namakata, Sulaimana, Hisrikoma, Abdulabi,
Dunbaki, Alia, Usmanu, Chisgari, Barbarmanaba, Muwashi, Muhamadu-Karfi,
After them Fumu ruled. He turned Mohammedanism into paganism.
These were they who became pagans. The first of them (was) Fumu,
(then) Kautai, Gunba, Sakana-Murtamu, Kanta, Rataini, Gaiwa,
Gado, Masu, Chi-da-gora, Gaban-gari, Maikebe, Marshakold, Lazimu,
Mashirana, Makata. These were they who all continued in paganism.
At the time when Kanta ruled he revived the Mohammedan religion
(and) inquired of the learned men the contents of (their) books,
He established the faith in his time and in that of them who
followed him, till the whole of the Kabi country became Mohammedan.
These were their names, Kantahu, Gofe, Dauda, Hamidu, Sulaimana,
Mali, Ishaka, Muhamadu-Nashawi, Amuru, Muhamadu-Kabe, Kantanabaiwa,
Muhamadu-Shifaya, Hamidu. All these continued in the Mohammedan
When Barbarma, became king he changed the Mohammedan religion
(and) became a pagan. Pagranism lasted up to the time of Hudu.
He was the one Usmanu the son of Fodio made war against. He drove
him out (and pursued him) till he slew him near to Kebi. Buhari
the son of Abdu-Salimi, he it was who slew him. He was the king
of Jega. His family are its kings till to-day.
It is finished. But as for Kano in (it) the faith continued
after his, Abdulkarimu's, return (home). The faith continued
to increase always with force and power. And it lasted on such
footing for many years until the time of Mainamugabadi. It was
he who changed the order of things Abdulkarimu had set up. He
set at naught the law (of Mahomed), he made the kingship all
powerful, he disregarded the Mohammedan faith, he exalted fetish
worship, and was arrogant. He surpassed (all his predecessors
in evil). Instructors endeavoured to instruct him, but their
admonitions were of no avail against him, but he increased in
pride. He was vainglorious. He continued thus till he died.
His brother Kunbari reigned in his stead and followed in his
ways. He too continued in this (evil) till the time of Kunfa.
He also spread paganism and evildoing- It was he who married
1,000 maidens. He instructed (people) to prostrate themselves
and put earth on their heads before saluting him. He said, let
not him whose name happened to be the same as that of his parents
be called so, but (let him be called) by some sobriquet. He completely
destroyed the creed, he sold free men, he built a palace, the
one which the kings of Kano enter to-day. He did what he wished.
And it was so with all the people of Kano except a very few,
speaking of them, they kept to the Mohammedan faith, they were
not powerful, only the Kano people did not know how to make beer,
except a few among them, men in outlying villages. Thus they
did not eat any animal that had died a natural death. They removed
the clitoris of their women, they covered their heads with a
veil. They did nothing else but this.
They continued in such (conduct) until learned men were found
in Kano, who had renounced the world, who feared Allah. (Of these
learned men one) his name was Muhamadu-Zari. He stood up and
preached. Rumfa paid no heed to whatever admonitions he admonished
them. But they planned to kill him, till at last they did kill
him in the night by slaying him from behind, in the road to the
mosque, and he lay (there) murdered, cast aside, till dawn. He
was buried about eight in the morning. His grave is known in
Kano, it is visited and watched over, he was called 'the Kalgo
man', blessings are sought by prayers being made for him.
Then Abdulahi-Sako stood up (to proclaim the creed) after
him. He was admonishing them but they paid no heed to him, except
some people of no importance, but those in authority did not
hear. And they frightened him so that he fled to the outlying
towns in order to instruct the people of the lesser towns. Then
the king sent one to seize him. They seized him, and continually
flogged him till he was brought before (the king). He was (by
this time) in and died after a few days. His grave is known,
(it lies) behind the rock (known as) I the single rock', but
it is not visited or watched over.
And so it came to pass that paganism existed till the time
of Muhamadu-Alwali. It was he Usmanu, the son of Fodio, made
war on, after he had ruled in the kingdom for seventeen years.
He (Usmanu-dan-Fodio) drove him out and his men, he fled in the
direction of the country on the right and none know where he
settled till this day, (some) say Barnabarna (some) say it was
not there. The learned men said that from the coming of Abdulkarimu
till the coming of Usmanu, the son of Fodio, there were seventy-six
kings. All their graves have remained in the town of Kano, but
two of them, that of Bawa and Muharnadu-Alwali, are in Katsina.
The creed continued after the return of Abdulkarimu. The faith
continued to grow always and took firm hold. Men from Gobir continued
to come to Katsina and were adopting the Mohammedan faith with
(in all) truth and earnestness, they embraced it, all together.
The faith took hold among them also as it had taken hold in Katsina.
And so it was until the time of Agarga. He was the first who
changed the state of things that Abdulkarimu had established
in Katsina. Instructors (strove) to admonish him. He heard not.
He remained in his heathenism till he died.
Kaura ruled the kingdom, and (then) his son; he followed the
path his father had taken. Paganism continued till the time of
Wari-mai-kworia. It was he who did evil and was most arrogant.
He married 1,000 maidens. He embraced evil (and) did not cease.
He sought for (a) medicine in order that he might go on living
in the world and not die, till (at last) a certain wizard deceived
him, saying he would never die, That doctor did for him what
he did from (his knowledge of) medicines.
This king gave him much wealth, it was said one hundred slaves,
one hundred female slaves, a hundred horses, a hundred black
robes, and a hundred cattle, cows and bulls a hundred, and a
thousand rams, and a thousand goats. He gave him robes which
could not be counted by reason of their number, and things of
this description, Allah he know (what all).
In his reign two learned men made their appearance in Katsina,
men who renounced the world (and) who feared Allah. The name
of one was Muhamadu Ibnumusina, the name of the other also was
Muhamadu Dunmurna. Each one among them gave instruction, (such)
instruction as enters into the heart. He did not hear them. Then
they made them afraid in order to dissuade them from preaching.
They did not desist. The kings also did not pay any attention
till these learned men died. In Katsina their graves are known
till to-day, where young and old visit and guard, and at which
blessings are sought by prayers for them.
Now Wari-mai-kworia, speaking of him, he lived eight years
after he had had the medicine made for him to prevent his dying.
He died the ninth year after (taking) it. When he died a quarrel
about the kingdom arose among the king's sons. Half were slaying
the other half until about 1,000 men were killed in the town
of Katsina among both free men and slaves. Then the younger brother
of Wari ruled after slaying the son of Wari.
He again continued in heathenism. (And) heathenism continued
in Katsina till the reign of Bawa-Dungaimawa. It was he Usmanu,
the son of Fodio, drove out of Katsina, he and his men, they
went to Maradi, they settled there until to-day. His descendants
continue to make war on the descendants of Usmanu, the son of
Fodio, till to-day.
But the (men of) Gobir assembled together and continued in
the faith and dwelt in it till the reign of Babari. He was the
first who changed the true faith, it became lax, he exalted (and)
set up paganism (and) was arrogant. The preachers (of the faith)
preached to him but he would not receive (their instructions),
but persisted in his heathenism till he died.
Bachira ruled over the kingdom, he did what his predecessor
had done, he added to the evil he had done, and the harm, the
foam from the wave of heathenism rose in the land of Gobir, its
kings were proud. They sold free men, they acted as they wished
until report had it that every king that ruled married one hundred
maidens. But (the only redeeming point was) they did not know
how to make beer, except a few among them, (and) they did not
eat animals that had died a natural death, but when they greeted
(their kings) hey poured earth over their heads, they served
(Some) who cleaved to the faith were (still) among them, at
that time only a few (and) without power or influence among them.
And they continued thus till the time of Bawajan-gwarzo. He went
on (living) in heathenism. He was arrogant till a learned man
was found in his reign, one who had fled from the world, one
who served Allah. He was called Alhaji-jibrilu. It was said,
speaking of him, he went from Gobir, he came to Mecca and performed
the pilgrimage and resided (away) there twenty years. It was
said he lived in Egypt eighteen years. He stayed in Mecca two
years, and then returned to Gobir. He instructed them each new
day and night, in secret and openly. They refused the thing (message)
he brought and thought to kill him.
All the kings of Hausa(land) plotted to slay him. They could
not. The malamai were in Kalawa at that time, but they could
not speak from their (store) of knowledge for fear of the chiefs.
Only Alhaji-Jibrilu, speaking of him, he stood (fast) in (his)
preaching and strove openly (and) they were not able to kill
him. He could not, however, prevent them (doing) the evil they
dwelt in. And they continued in evildoing and heathenism in this
(Then) Usmanu, the son of Fodio, was born at the time when
Alhajijibrilu died. Usmanu, the son of Fodio, began to preach
little by little till (the time when) Bawa-jan-gwarzo died. His
brother Yaakubu reigned in his stead. Then Usmanu proclaimed
(his) preaching openly till he did what (all the world knows)
he did (and) finished. We have drawn the history to a close.
Allah, he is the one who knows all. It is finished.
The salvation and blessing of Allah
'STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE'
1. The story of the slave by name 'The World'
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, and
may the peace of Allah be upon him, after whom there is no prophet.
This is the beginning of a story about people. A story, a
story. Let it go, let it come.
A slave of a chief had a wife, and it was said of her she
was of a loose character. He (the husband) said it was a lie,
(and) that his wife did not go after men. At last, one day, a
certain old woman said to him, 'Always when you go to the council
then she (your wife) is after the men'; and the old woman said,
'To-day mount your horse (and) say you are going to an outlying
village (and) you are going to sleep there.' Then the chief's
slave saddled up, mounted, took the road and went off. When evening
came he had not come, for he had said, 'I am going and shall
Now the wife (possessed some lovers), the galadima and the
vizier, and a certain of the chief's slaves, a foreigner, by
name 'The World', and on the master of the house going out, then
the wife sent to (these) her lovers, she said, 'My master will
go to an outlying village, and he will not return to-day but
Then the galadima brought four thousand cowries worth of meat
and two thousand cowries worth of rice to bring to the woman.
When night came the galadima arrived, the meat and rice was set
out, and he ate. Then he heard the sound of the slippers of the
vizier, and down he fell under the bed, and the rice was lifted
and covered up. Sure enough it was the vizier. Then he sat down,
(and) he also was given rice and meat. He ate.
Then he heard the noise made by the slippers of him called
'The World'. He thinks it is the master of the house. So he fell
under the bed, when he discovered the galadima sitting (there).
Then he said, 'Oh, it's the galadima, is it?' And he said, 'Yes,'
(and) said, Let us keep this secret.' And he said, 'There is
no harm in that.'
They were sitting there then, (and the one called) 'The World'
was given his share, and he also was eating. Then they heard
the hoofs of the horse of the master of the house; he has come.
Then 'The World' threw away the plate of food (and) fell under
Then 'The World' saw a man (there). He said, Who are you?'
Then the galadima and the vizier said, 'It is we.' Then 'The
World'said, 'You, galadima, what brings you here?' And they said,
'For the sake of Allah, World, let us keep this secret among
us.' And 'The World' said, 'All right, keep silent.' Then they
The master of the house meanwhile was at his house taking
off the saddle, he did not know. Then he told his wife to give
him water to wash. She gave him water and he washed. Then he
entered the house and sat on the bed, and his wife said, 'Greetings
to you on your coming.' He did not reply, he was wondering and
saying, 'The World, the World' (because he had been lied to and
told his wife went after the men, and behold, he had come and
saw no one). And he kept saying, 'The World, the World.'
His wife said, 'What is the matter, master?' Now he (by name)
'The World ', the foreigner, thought it was to him he was speaking.
Truly he waxed angry, and spoke, saying, 'You -------, is it
(him called) "The World" only you have to find fault
with? Look, do you not see the galadima and the vizier, but only
"The World", seeing that it is "The World"
you are finding fault with(only)?'
On that all was confusion in the room, and the galadima and
the vizier ran out, and left him called 'The World' and the woman's
husband fighting. The old woman was shouting and calling for
help. They (people) came and separated them. Next morning the
matter was brought before the chief, when the woman's husband
stated the case, but the councillors split themselves with laughing,
and the chief said, 'Where are the galadima and the vizier?'
and he was told they had not come. And the chief said, 'Let some
one go and see if all is well with them.' (And) they went and
found that the galadima and the vizier were not at their house.
Of a truth they had gone to the bush; and until now they have
not been seen, for very shame. And the moral of this (is that)
it does not behove a man of position to act improperly.
That is all.
Off with the rat's head.
2. How brothers and sisters first came to quarrel
and hate each other
A story, a story.
This tale is about a maiden. A certain man had three children,
two boys and a girl, (and) it was the girl he loved. Then (one
day) their big brother went with them to the forest (bush), telling
them to come for sticks. And when they had reached the forest,
he seized her (the girl), climbed a tree with her, (and) tied
her on to the tree, (and) came (and) said, 'The maiden has been
lost in the forest,' (and said) they did not see her, so they
They were weeping. Then their father asked them what had happened,
(and) they said, 'Our young sister she was lost in the forest
(and) we did not see her. We searched until we were tired, but
we did not see her.'
Then their father said, 'It cannot be helped.' Then one day
traders came and were passing in the forest. She (the girl) heard
their voices and she (sang) said, 'You, you, you, who are carrying
kola nuts, if you have come to the village on the hill, greet
my big brother Hallabau, greet my big brother Tanka-baka, (and)
greet my big brother Shadusa.' When the traders heard this they
said that birds were the cause of this (singing). Then again
she repeated (the song). Then the leader of the caravan said
he would go (and) see what it was that was doing (singing) thus.
So he went off (and) came across the maiden fastened to the
tree. And he said, '(Are you) alive or dead?' The maiden said,
'Alive, alive.' So the leader of the caravan himself climbed
up the tree and untied her. Now long ago the caravan leader had
wished for offspring, but he was childless. Then he said, 'Where
is the maiden from?'
And the maiden said, 'Our father begat us, we were three,
two boys by one mother, I also alone, by my mother. Our father
and mother loved (me), (but) did not love my brothers. And because
of that our big brother brought me here, deceiving me by saying
we were going for sticks. He came with me here, tied me to a
tree (and) left me. Our father is a wealthy man, and because
of that, he (my brother) did this to me.' Then the leader of
the caravan said, 'As for me, you have become my daughter.'
So the leader of the caravan took her home (and) nursed her
till she recovered. She remained with him until she reached a
marriageable age, and grew into a maid whose like was nowhere.
And whenever she was heard of, people came to look on her, until
a day (when) her elder brother reached manhood. He had not found
a wife. Then he heard the report which said that a certain wealthy
man had a daughter in such and such a village; in all the country
there was not her like. Then he went to their (his) father (and)
said he had heard about the daughter of a certain wealthy man
(and) it was her he wished (to marry).
So his father gave him gifts, (and) he came to seek a wife
in marriage. And Allah blessed his quest and he found what he
sought, and the maid was wedded to him. They came home, but when
he would consummate their union, she would not give herself to
him; (and) it was always thus. Only, when they (all) went off
to the farms she would lift her mortar and golden pestle which
her father had given her, saying she was going to make 'fura'
cakes. And she poured the grain into the mortar of gold and pounded
and (sung) said, 'Pound, pound, mortar, father has become the
father of my husband, alas for me! Mother has become the mother
of my husband, alas, my mortar!' And so on till she had finished
pounding. She was weeping (and) singing.
Now a certain old woman of the place heard what she was (saying).
It was always so, until one day she told the mother of (the girl's)
husband, and she said, 'When you are all about to go to the farm,
do you, mother of the husband, come out, give her grain, (and)
bid her pound "fura", as you are going to the farm.
When you get outside steal away (and) come back, enter the house,
(and) remain silent (and) hear what she says.' So the mother
of the man came out, their father came out, the boys and the
woman all came out, and said they were off to the farm.
A little while after the man's mother came back (and) entered
the hut (and) crouched down. Then the maiden lifted her mortar
and golden pestle. She was singing and saying, 'Pound, pound,
my mortar, father has become (my) husband's father, alas, my
mortar! Mother has become (my) husband's mother, alas for me!'
She was singing thus (and) shedding tears, the mother also was
in the room and was watching her until she had done all she had
When the people of the house who had gone to the farms came
back, the mother did not say anything. When night came, then
she told her husband; she said, 'Such and such the maid did.'
The father said, 'Could it possibly be the maid who was lost?'
Then they said, 'But if it is she there is a certain mark on
her back ever since she was an infant, she had been left in a
house with a fire (and) it had burned her.'
She was summoned. They adjured her by Allah and the Prophet
(and) said, 'This man who gave you in marriage, is he your father
or were you given to him to be brought up only?' But the maiden
refused to answer. Try as they could they could not get an answer.
Then the father said, 'Present your back that I may see.'
She turned her back, (and) they saw the scar where the fire
had burned her when she was an infant. Then they said, 'Truly
it is so. From the first when you came why did you (refuse) to
tell me (us)?' And they knew it was their daughter. And they
sent to her (foster) father, the one who had found her, and he
was told what had happened. And he said, 'There is no harm done.
I beg you give me the maiden. If I have found another I shall
give her to him (the husband).' But they (the girl's real father
and mother) refused to consent to this.
As for the husband, when he heard this he took his quiver
and bow. He went into the forest (and) hanged himself. He died.
And this was the beginning of hatred among the children of one
father by different mothers.
That is all.
Off with the rat's head.
3. The story of the boy and the old woman, and how
the wasp got his small waist
This tale is about a bush-burning. A story, a story. Let it
go, let it come.
A chief gave permission for the grass to be burned. They went
all round but did not see anything (game) until all the grass
was burned. Then a certain bad boy saw a hole and dug (there);
he did not see anything. But an old woman came out, and on her
emerging she screamed (with rage) and said, 'The chief has set
fire to the bush; (hitherto) whosoever has seen this hole has
passed on, and now you must dig it up. To-day you will see.'
Then she sprang on the boy, but the boy struck her with his
axe. Up she leaped and turned into a hawk, and when she was about
to swoop down on him he shot at her; and so (they fought on)
until she got the better of him. He ran away. (As) he ran he
came across a wasp, he was weaving cloth. Then the wasp said,
'Where are you going?' He said, 'An old woman chased me.' Then
the wasp said, 'Sit here (till) she comes.' So the boy sat down.
He was there when the old woman came sure enough, and she
sprang to catch the boy; but the wasp swallowed her. He lifted
a single thread and gave it to the boy (and) said he must tie
it round his middle. So the boy tied him up, until his back was
almost cut in two. That is the origin of what you see; the wasp's
belly is big, the old woman is inside. His back, which has become
a thread, the boy bound it at the middle, behind.
That is all. Off with the rat's head.
The rat will not eat my head,
rather will I eat (its) head,
son of a worthless fellow.
4. The story about a beautiful maiden, and how the
hartebeest got the marks under its eyes like teardrops
This is a story about an alliance. A story, a story. Let it
go, let it come.
A chief begat a beautiful daughter; she had no equal in the
town. And he said, 'He who hoes on the day the people come together
and whose area hoed surpasses every one else's he marries the
chief's daughter. So on the day the chief calls his neighbours
to hoe (gayaa), let them come (the suitors) and hoe for
him. But he who hoes and surpasses every one else, to him a wife.'
Now of a truth the chameleon had heard (about this) for a
long time past, (and) he came along. He was eating hoeing medicine.
Now when the day of the hoeing came round the chameleon was at
home. He did not come out until those hoeing were at work and
were far away; then the chameleon came. When he struck one blow
on the ground with the hoe, then he climbed on the hoe and sat
down, and the hoe started to hoe, and fairly flew until it had
done as much as the hoers. It passed them, and reached the boundary
of the furrow.
The chameleon got off, sat down, and rested, and later on
the (other) hoers got to where he was. Then the chief would not
consent, but now (said) he who ran and passed every one, he should
marry his daughter. Then the hartebeest said he surpassed every
one in running. So they had a race. But the chameleon turned
into a needle; he leaped (and) stuck fast to the tail of the
hartebeest, and the hartebeest ran until he passed every one,
until he came to the entrance of the house of the chief. He passed
Then the chameleon let go the hartebeest's tail; of a truth
the chameleon had seen the maiden. So he embraced her, and when
the hartebeest came along he met the chameleon embracing the
girl. Thereupon the hartebeest began to shed tears, and that
was the origin of what you see like tears in a hartebeest's eyes.
From that day he has wept and not dried his tears.
Off with the rat's head.
5. How the whip and the 'maara' spoon (a broken bit
of calabash) came to the haunts of men
This story is (called) 'Whack me'.
A certain man had two wives; one bore two children and the
other had not any children, except the child of another who lived
with her. Now he (the husband) did not like the one who had borne,
but the one who had not borne.
Now it came about that a day of famine came on them. Then
he (the husband) went to the bush (and) found food, and refused
the one with children and gave to the one without children, (and)
they two ate; and it was so always. And one day he went to the
bush and found guinea-fowl's eggs, twenty in number. Then he
called her (the one he did not love) and told her to choose the
largest of them. So she took one, she went and boiled it, and
gave it to the children to eat. And on that day she too went
to the bush, she found corn, and stirred (it into) gruel.
And she called him (her husband) and said, 'Look among your
nails and dip (into the pot) one, the largest one of all, then
lick (it), rise up, and leave the rest to the children.' Then
he began to examine his nails, he turned them about, saying,
'What one must I dip in?' (and) he kept saying, 'Is it this one
or that one?' But all the time his one hand was between his legs
loosening his skin waist covering. Then he swiftly unfastened
it, and plunged it into the pap, (in the pot) (when) the woman's
eyes were looking the other way; she did not see.
Then he stood up and said, 'I have put one in.' And she said,
'You will get put to shame over this,' and she refrained from
saying any more. Another day she went to the bush, and saw a
spoon and she passed on. But the spoon said, 'How is it you would
pass on and not salute me?' So she said, 'Greetings to you.'
And the spoon said, 'Greetings.'
Then the woman would have let it go at that, and passed on,
but the spoon said, 'Will not you ask my name?' So the woman
said, 'What is your name?' And the spoon answered, 'My name is
Help me.' And the woman did not speak again, and was about to
pass on, but the spoon said, 'Will not you ask me my name?' So
the woman said, 'What is your name?' And the spoon said, 'My
name is Help me'; and the spoon said, 'You too say, Help me that
I may taste.' So she also said, 'Help me that I may taste.' Thereupon
the spoon said, 'Bring your calabash.'
She brought her calabash. Then the spoon kept filling it with
food, he poured it out for her till her calabash- was full. She
went home, took it out, and gave her husband, and the remainder
she and her children ate. Next day her husband came and said,
'For the sake of Allah where did you get that food?' Then she
said, 'I got money, I saw grain, I bought it, I pounded it, and
made food.' And he said, 'That is all right,' and stood up, and
went out, and left her.
She also got up, lifted her calabash (and) went out, and went
off to the bush where the spoon was. She came to where he was
and said to him, 'What is your name?' And the spoon said, 'My
name is Help me.' She said, 'Help me that I may taste.' Thereupon
the spoon commenced to pour out food for her until her calabash
She lifted it and went oft home, took (the food) out and gave
him. He ate, with his one wife. They were filled. And this happened
again and again, till one day he said, 'For the sake of Allah
will you not take me to where you are finding this food?' Then
she said to him, 'When the dawn of Allah appears, come.'
So when it was dawn, he came, and they went to the place where
the spoon was. She said, 'Salute her,' so he saluted the spoon.
Then his wife said, 'Ask her, can't you (her name)? say, What
is your name?' So he said, 'What is your name?' And the spoon
said, 'My name is Help me.' And the wife said to him, 'Say, Help
me that I may taste.' And he said, 'Help me that I may taste.'
Thereupon the spoon commenced to pour out food for them until
their calabash was full; then they lifted it and took it home.
They ate. When night came then the husband returned. He lifted
up the spoon and came back to the house, and put the spoon inside
the grain store. When he felt hungry then he told his wife to
go into the grain store and see what was inside. When she entered
the store she met the spoon. She said, 'What is your name?' Then
he said, 'My name is Help me.' And she said, 'Help me that I
And the spoon filled her calabash with food. And they did
not give that wife who had told him all about it. She also did
not find any food. It was always so, until one day his wife,
the one the man loved, when the husband was not at home, he had
gone to the bush, took the spoon. She came to the stream and
was washing it, when the chief's wife came and greeted her and
said, 'What are you doing?' She said, 'Look at that.' Then they
said nothing more. Then she said, 'Are you not going to salute
her?' And they said, 'Greetings, greetings.'
It answered the salute. Then this wife said, 'Ask, What is
your name?' It answered, 'My name is Help me.' Then they said,
'What sort of a thing now do they call Help me?' Then this woman
said, 'You say, Help me that I may taste.' And they said, 'Help
me that I may taste.' Thereupon the spoon kept pouring out food
Some have (had) drawn water, but they poured it out, and brought
(their calabashes), and the spoon poured in food for them, and
they lifted it and took it home. And the chief asked, 'Where
did you get this thing?' And they said, 'We went to the stream
and we met there the wife of So-and-so, and she said, Don't you
see I am washing a spoon? We said, We have seen, and she said,
Will you not salute it? We said, Greetings, lady friend. And
it said, Greetings to you.
Next we were silent, we were gazing, when that woman said,
Will you not ask its name? So we then said, What is your name?
and it said, My name is Help me. Then we were silent (again),
we were watching, when that woman said, Bring your calabashes
and say, Help me that I may taste. And we too said, Help me that
I may taste. And it kept pouring out food for us and filled up
our calabashes with food.'
Then the chief said, 'Go and bring it that I may see.' So
they went off, the court officials and the chief's body-guard,
and they went and met this person, and they said, 'The chief
says, give us Help me, that we may bring it for him to see.'
So he took it himself and gave them; he was black of heart.
They received (it) (from him), they brought (it) to the chief
and said, 'Behold it.' The chief said, 'Hail, lady friend,' and
it answered. And he said, 'Bring large wooden dishes' and large
wooden dishes were brought. Then he (the chief) said, 'What is
your name?' and it said, 'My name is Help me.' And the chief
said, 'Help me,' and it kept pouring out food and filled the
wooden plates for him.
And the chief said, 'This is too good a thing to be in a poor
man's house.' So the chief ordered it to be brought to his house.
It was brought to his house and it supplied the chief's house
with food, but as for him who had the spoon (formerly) he was
dying of hunger.
Then one day his wife, the one who had shown him the spoon,
when he had taken it and left her, went to the bush to look for
food. And she saw a branch of a tree, some say a whip; she saw
it in the forest (bush). She said, 'Greetings,' and it said,
'Greetings to you.' And the wife said, 'What is your name?' and
the whip said, 'My name is Whack me.' And the woman said, 'Whack
me that I may feel.' Thereupon the whip kept flogging her, whack!
Whack! She was running away, she was yelling, she was saying,
'Alas, I am repentant, I shall follow you, I won't do it again.'
But the whip flogged her until people came and rescued her.
She went home and called her husband, and took him to where
the whip was, and said, 'Have you seen, I have found another
thing again for giving food.' Then she stood afar off, she said,
'There it is over there.' Then the husband went off in haste,
tramp! tramp! until he met the whip; it was lying down. He said,
'Hail, friend,'and the whip said, 'Hail to you.'
He was all the time thinking it was something good. Then he
said, 'What is your name?' and the whip said, 'My name is Whack
me that I may feel.' Then this man said, 'Whack me that I may
feel.' Thereupon the whip kept beating him until it was tired.
And the whip went back and lay quite still, and the man too went
home and lay down. And the wife he loved came along and said,
'What has happened?' And he did not answer. He lay quiet until
he got better.
Then he went and came to where the whip was lying. Then he
kept crouched down, he crouched down until he got near it, then
he jumped and held it down, and took it home, and put it away
in the grain store. Then he sat quietly until his favourite wife
came. And she said, 'To-day I am feeling hungry.' Then he said,
'Go into the grain store and see what is inside.' Then she rose
up in great haste, she said, 'What did you find to-day?' And
he said, 'You yourself enter.' Then she said, 'Must I take a
calabash',' He said, 'Yes.' She took a calabash and went into
the grain store. He closed it. He said, 'What do you see?' And
she said, 'Something I have seen which is long.' And he said,
'Greet it, cannot you?'
She said, 'I greet you (who are) resting,' (and) she said,
'What is your name?' It said, 'My name is Whack me,' and she
said , 'Whack me that I may feel.' Thereupon the whip set about
beating her, she was shouting. Her husband, when he heard, ran
off to the forest, and his wife, the one he did not love, also
ran out to the forest, through fear; and she also, the one who
had entered the grain store, with difficulty she found a way
of escape and ran off; and they left the house deserted. Long
ago the spoon and the whip lived in the wilds, and this was the
first time they made their appearance in the home.
Off with the rat's head.
6. A story about a chief, and how his sons observed
his funeral, and the origin of the spider
This is a story about a certain chief. A tale, a tale. Let
it go and let it return.
A certain chief, by name Kurunguthe-bad-fish, grew old in
his kingdom, and when he was near to death-he had many children-he
called them together and said, 'If I were to die what would you
all do to observe my funeral?'
His eldest child said, 'When you are dead I shall mourn for
you by (slaughtering) a lion.' Each one said what he would do.
His youngest said, 'When you are dead I shall mourn for you by
killing a hyena.' And it came to pass that not long after he
died, and each brought what he said; only the eldest and the
youngest remained (to fulfil the promise).
Then the youngest went to the bush, he was walking, and he
came across a cow and brought it back. They slaughtered it and
made a skin bag of it, and they took the cow's head and feet
and pushed them into the bag. Then he went and called the hyena.
She came (and) he (the man) said, 'We divided up the meat (when)
you were not there, (and) we set aside your share.'
They showed her (lit. him) the bag, they said, 'There it is,
go in and lift (the meat).' Then the hyena put in her head and
entered. Then the youngest son immediately closed the mouth of
the bag (and) they tied it up, the hyena inside, and they dragged
the hyena and brought her above their father's grave. And they
kept flogging her until the skin burst. The hyena found an exit,
got out, and ran off. Then the youngest son got angry and said,
'I shall catch her again.'
And so another day he found a cow, he brought it back and
killed (it), he searched for porridge and covered his eye with
it and went off to the forest. He saw the hyena and said, 'Hyena,
we have divided up the meat in your absence, we looked for you
until we were tired. And as for us, we are a people who keep
a promise to our parents, and when they were about to die they
said we must continually give (gifts), and whoever found anything
let him seek his brother (to share with him).'
The hyena said, 'That is quite true, but some one has come
here and deceived me. It was thus he enticed me away and he was
wanting to kill me.' Then the youngest son said, 'Come now, hyena,
would a man call his brother to kill (him)?' The hyena answered,
'Let us go.'
They took the road, they were coming, when the hyena stood
still and said, 'No, yesterday he who came to call me, like you
was he, let me hear it was not you.' The youngest son said, 'This
man, had he one eye?' The hyena said, 'Let us go on.'
They took the road and were going on (and) they reached the
house. Then the youngest son showed him (her) where the cow's
hide was, and he said, 'Enter, your (share) is within.' Then
the hyena, when he (she) was about to push in his (her) head,
came out and said, 'No, friend, do not come and do to me as your
brother did to me.'
The youngest son was standing by, and he said, 'Come then,
hyena, if it is that you do not want the meat, leave it, and
go about your business. Does a man call his brother in order
that he may do him harm? The meat I show you if you do not eat,
leave it, and get out.' Then the hyena said, 'No, I am (going)
to eat it.'
So he (she) put his (her) head in and entered. As he (she)
was going to lift the meat and then come out, then the youngest
son seized the mouth of the bag and closed it. And they all came
up and tied up the hyena and dragged it and brought it over their
father's grave. They kept beating it, they beat it till the skin
burst, and the hyena found an exit, and came out, and ran off.
But the youngest son said, 'I will find and bring her back
again.' Then some time passed and the hyena forgot. And the youngest
son found a very large cow and brought it back. They slaughtered
it, flayed it, and made a skin bag; they lifted a hind leg and
put (it) in the bag, and made a trap. Then the youngest son got
some porridge, went to the bush, came near the hole where the
hyena was, then took the (dawo) porridge, and covered
up his eyes; then he could not see.
Then he called, 'Where is the hyena's den? Look at this, a
cow has been slaughtered since yesterday, they put on one side
a leg for him (her), and he (she) is not to be seen.' Then the
hyena heard, he (she) was in the hole, so out he (she) came and
said, 'Here I am.' And the hyena said, 'Where is the meat?' Then
the youngest son held out to her a large piece of meat and said,
'You see the sign (that what I say is true).' Then the hyena
took it and swallowed it right off, and the hyena said, 'Let
us go at once.' Then the hyena remembered, and he (she) pulled
up, and said, 'My friend, some one of your kindred, it was just
thus he deceived me; he took me away and he wanted to kill me.'
Then the youngest son said, 'Come now, hyena, how can a blind
man manage to kill another person?' And the hyena said, 'Let
us go on.' They took the road, they were coming, until they got
to where the trap was. Then the youngest son said, 'Hyena, look
at the meat there.' Then the hyena saw a very fat hind-quarter.
The hyena, without a thought, leaped and went in, in order to
lift the meat out; he (she) did not know it was a trap, till
the trap caught him (her). Then the hyena began to shout, and
the youngest son ran off and went home and called his brothers,
(and) they flogged the hyena until the hyena became insensible.
(And) they bound him (her) and dragged him (her), and brought
him (her) to their father's grave, and (there) they cut (her
throat), and skinned (her), and divided up the meat, and ate.
Then they said, 'Each one has observed the funeral rites of
our parent with the exception of our eldest brother.' Then their
eldest brother lifted up an anvil, and took it to the bush; he
was forging metal, Then the lion came, and said, 'Friend smith,
let me come and work the bellows for you.' He said, 'Yes.' So
the lion came and worked the bellows.
Now of a truth the smith had done something, he had sought
leaves of a certain kind and put (them) between his legs. Then
he lifted the tongs and put (them) in the fire, and he told the
lion to blow the bellows; and the lion blew them until the tongs
were red hot. Then the smith got up and bent down and said to
the lion, 'Friend, my anus is itching'; (and) he lifted the tongs
and pushed them among the leaves, (and) the leaves were set on
fire. The lion thought it was the smith's anus. The smith too
left them there until the tongs were cold.
After this the lion said, 'An insignificant person like you,
you have strength of mind to do this?' Then the lion put the
tongs into the fire, he was blowing the bellows until the tongs
were red hot. Then the lion said, I Friend, lift (them) and place
them for me.' So the smith lifted the tongs, he worked them up
and down the lion's anus until the lion fainted.
Then the smith with all speed went home and summoned his younger
brothers, (and) they came (and) they pulled (the lion) (and)
brought it home. Then he entered the house to get some water
to bring for the young men-the lion is lying still. Then the
smith drew the water (and) came, (and) the people gathered round
and looked on, then the lion came round from his faint and said,
'My friend, what are you doing to me?' And the smith said, 'I
have seen you were weary, and so I brought you home to pour water
on you.' But the lion said, 'You are a liar.'
And the lion leaped and trampled him and tore (him). That
was the origin of the spider; when he (the lion) trampled on
him (the smith), he broke up, and made many feet. That was the
beginning of the spider; formerly he was a smith.
Off with the rat's head.
7. A story about an orphan, showing that 'he who
sows evil, it comes forth in his own garden'
This is the story about orphans. A story, a story. Let it
go, let it come.
A certain man had wives, two in number. He died and left them.
One among the wives fell ill. She saw she was near to death,
so she said to the second wife, 'Now you have seen this illness
will not leave me. There is my daughter, I have left her as a
trust to you; for the sake of Allah and the prophets look after
her well for me.'
So the woman died and was buried, and they were left with
the maid (her child). Now always they were showing her cruelty,
until one day a sickness took hold of the maiden. She was lying
down. Her stepmother said, 'Get up, (and) go to the stream.'
The maid got up, she was groaning, she lifted a small calabash,
(and) took the road. She went to the stream (and) drew water;
she took it back (and) said, 'Mother, lift the calabash down
for me.' But her step-mother said, 'Do you not see I am pounding?
Not now, when I have finished.'
She finished husking the grain, she was winnowing, the maiden
was standing by. The maiden said, 'Mother, lift down the calabash
for me.' But her step-mother said, 'Do you not see I am winnowing?
(Not now), when I have finished.'
The maiden stood by till she had finished, until she had washed;
she paid no attention to the maiden. The maiden said, 'Mother,
help me down (with the water-pot).' She said, 'Do you not see
I am pouring grain into the mortar? (Not now), but when I have
finished pounding.' The maiden kept standing by till she finished
pounding; she re-pounded, she winnowed, she finished, the maiden
was still standing.
The maiden said, 'Mother, help me down,' but she said, 'Do
you not see I am putting porridge in the pot? When I have finished.'
The maiden kept standing by till she (the step-mother) had finished
putting the porridge (in the pot). The maiden said, 'Mother,
help me down,' but she said, 'If (I) come to help you down the
porridge will get burned; (wait) till the porridge boils.' The
porridge boiled, she took it out of the water, till (then) she
pounded it, squeezed it, and finished.
She did not say anything to the maid, till the wind came like
a whirlwind; it lifted the maiden and went off with her (and)
she was not seen. The wind took her to the forest (bush), there
was no one but she alone. She was roaming in the forest till
she saw a grass hut. Then she went (up to it). She peeped in,
(and) met a thigh-bone and a dog inside.
Then she drew back, but the thigh-bone said, 'Us! us!', and
the dog said, 'He says you are to come back.' The maiden came
back, and the thigh-bone said, 'Us! us!', and the dog said, 'He
says you a , to enter.' The maiden entered the hut, and bowed
down and prostrated herself, and the thighbone said, 'Us! us!',
and the dog said, 'He says, Can you cook food?' And the maiden
So they gave her rice, one grain, and said she was to cook
it. She picked up the single grain of rice. She did not grumble,
she put it in the mortar and pounded, and when she had finished
pounding, the rice filled the mortar. She dry pounded the rice
and finished, and poured it from a height to let the wind blow
away the chaff (sheke).
She went to the stream and washed (it) ; she brought (it)
back home, she set (the pot) on the fire, she poured in the rice
and in a short time the rice filled the pot. Then the thigh-bone
said, 'Us! us!', and the dog said, He says are you able (to make)
soup?' The maiden said, Yes, I can.' The thighbone said, 'Us!
us!', so the dog got up and went to a small refuse heap, (and)
scraped up an old bone, and gave it to the maiden. She received
it and put it in the pot.
When a little while had passed, the meat filled the pot. When
the meat was ready, she poured in salt and (daudawa) spice,
(and) she put in all kinds of soup spices. When the soup was
ready she took the pot off the fire, she served out the food
and divided it up. Ten helpings she set aside for the thigh-bone,
for the dog she set aside nine helpings, (and) she set out for
They ate (and) were filled. So it is, because of this, if
a stranger has come to you, honour him, give him food to eat.
Meanwhile you study his nature, you see if (it) is bad or good.
To return to the story. They went to sleep. At dawn the thigh-bone
said, 'Us! us!', and the dog said to the maiden, 'He says, Can
you make "fura" cakes?' She said, 'Yes.' The
thigh-bone said, 'Us! us!' Then the dog got up (and) came (and)
lifted one grain of corn; he brought it and gave her. She received
it (and) put it in the mortar; she poured in water, she lifted
the pestle, she was pounding; as she (wet) pounded, the corn
She took it out, she winnowed, she took it to the water, she
washed it, she returned, she pounded, she took it out, she winnowed,
she returned, (and) poured (it in again). She pounded it very
finely, she took it out, rolled it into cakes, and put it in
the pot until it boiled. She took it off (the fire), set it down,
poured it into the mortar, pounded, took it out, rolled it up
into balls, and gave to the thigh-bone three balls, to the dog
she gave two.
When it was dawn the thigh-bone said, 'Us! us!', and the dog
said, 'He says, Are you going home?' She said, 'I will go, but
I do not know the way.' Then the thigh-bone said, 'Us! us! ',
and the dog rose up; he went and brought slaves, beautiful ones,
he brought cattle and sheep, horses and fowls, camels and war-horses,
and ostriches, and robes, everything in the world, the dog brought
and gave to the maiden.
He said, 'There they are, the thigh-bone says I must give
you (them); you will make them the provision for your journey.
And he says he gives you leave to set out, and go to your home.'
But the maiden said, 'I do not know the way.' So the dog told
the thigh-bone, and the thigh-bone said, 'Us! Us!' And the dog
said, 'He says let us set out, (and) I must show you the way.'
So the dog passed on in front, the maiden mounted a camel, the
camel was led.
They were going along. The dog brought them till (they reached)
close to (her) home. The dog turned back, but she herself sent
into the town; she said, let the chief be told it was she who
was come. The chief said, 'Let them go and meet her.' They went
and met her. They drew up at the chief's doorway, the chief gave
them permission to alight, they alighted, She took out one tenth
and gave the chief. She stayed there until the chief said he
wished her in marriage. They were married. She also, that step-mother
of hers, (her late father's second wife) was envious, so she
told her own daughter to go to the stream to draw water for her.
But the little girl said, 'Mother, I am not going.'
But she (the mother) lifted a reed and drove her, (and) she
went to the stream by compulsion. Now the girl went to the stream,
drew water, and took (it) home. She came across her mother as
she was pounding; she said, 'Mother, help me down (with the pot).'
But her mother said, 'I am pounding, (wait) till I have finished.'
She finished pounding, and the girl said, 'Mother, help me down.'
But she answered, 'I am about to winnow, (wait) till I have finished.'
She finished winnowing (and) the girl said, 'Mother, help me
down (with the pot).' She replied, I am just going to pound-when
I have finished.' When she had finished pounding then she sought
the girl low and high; she did not see her, the wind has (had)
lifted her (and) taken her to the bush.
It cast her there, she was roaming in the forest, when she
saw a grass hut. She went and peeped in the hut, and she saw
a thigh-bone and a dog. Then she drew back, and the thigh-bone
said, 'Us! Us!' The dog said, 'He says you are to come.' So she
came and said, 'Here I am.' The thigh-bone said, 'Us! us!' The
dog said, 'He says you are to sit down.' So she sat down, (and)
said, 'Mercy on us, a thighbone that talks. What sort of a thing
is Us! us?' But they gave no answer.
A short time after the thigh-bone said, 'Us! us!' Then the
dog said, 'He says, Can you (cook) food?' And she said, 'Ah,
it's a bad year when the partridge has seen them planting out
the young trees (instead of sowing, when it could eat the seed).
A thigh-bone, too, even it has an interpreter. I am able, you,
I suppose, have the grain, when you are asking if people can
They gave no answer, (but) the dog got up; he lifted one single
grain of rice (and) gave her. 'What's this?' she said, 'to-day
I am about to see how one single grain of rice makes food.' The
dog replied, 'As for you, make it thus.' She lifted the rice
and put it in the mortar, she was pounding, and after a little
while the rice became much. She dry pounded it, took it out,
poured it out so as to blow away the chaff, poured on water,
By the time she had finished cooking it the rice filled the
pot. She was amazed. The dog lifted up a year-old bone, brought
it, and gave her. Then she said, 'What am I to do with it, this
is a year-old bone?' The dog replied, 'As for you, make it thus.'
She said, 'Are you supposed to be conjurers? I warn you; it is
not my business that wizards should eat me.'The dog remained
silent; not a thing did he say.
She washed the bone and put it in the pot, and in a short
time the pot was full of meat. The girl was amazed, but she stirred
the food, she took it out (and) set the soup down. She put aside
for the thigh-bone three helpings, for the dog two. But the dog
was angry because he saw her share was large, theirs very small,
and he said, 'What's this?' When he would have said, 'Haba,'
he could only say, 'Hab hab,' because he had not told the thigh-bone
first before he spoke.
Formerly the dog was a minister at court and used to talk
like a person, when (on this day) he got in a temper in front
of the king, he condemned him to say 'Hab! hab!' if he rose up
to quarrel. And the moral of this is, a youth must not lose his
temper in the presence of an elder.
Now they had eaten their food and slept. At dawn the thigh-bone
said, 'Us! us!' Then the dog was not able to speak, but he went
and brought blind men, and lepers, and blind horses, and lame
asses, and sheep, robes and trousers were brought to her, (and)
the dog showed her the way. He brought her to near (her) home
and turned back.
But the thigh-bone drove him away, so he came back very quickly
and joined them, and followed them until they reached the house.
That is the first time the dog came to the house, formerly he
was in the bush. Well, to continue, when they had got near the
house, then she (the girl) sent one leper from among her retinue.
He sat on a blind horse and his message was to tell the chief
she has come. The chief allowed her to be met.
The chief made the galadima and many people to go and meet
them. When they reached the open space in front of the chief's
house, then a stink filled the town. Then the chief said they
were to be taken far back to a distance behind the town. They
were led behind the town, far away they were to make their houses.
When the mother of this maiden saw all this, then she became
black of heart, (and) died.
That was the first appearance of wickedness, (which) is not
a beautiful thing. Whoever commits a sin against another it comes
back on himself, as a certain learned man sung, may Allah dispense
mercy on him, he says, 'Whosoever sows evil it comes forth in
his own garden. That is true without a doubt, have you heard?'
That is all.
Off with the rat's head.
8. A story about a witch, and how the baby of the
family outwitted her, and invented the first walled town
This is a story about a witch. A story, a story. Let it go,
let it come.
A certain old woman had children, nine girls, and she went
far into the bush and lived (there). Now some boys, youths, there
were nine of them too, set out from their village and went to
the house of the witch, where the girls were. They came. The
girls gave them water, each had a maid who gave him water to
Now the youngest (among the boys) the youngest maid brought
water to (him) and gave him, but he refused to drink. When night
came each of (the young men's) maids made food and gave him;
(and) they ate. The youngest of the maidens made food and brought
it to the youngest of the youths, but he refused to eat. They
said, 'How is it when you come every one eats food, but you alone
refuse to eat?' He said, 'If young men come to the house of maidens
and eat food, then they have become worthless young men.' And
they said, 'That is true.'
The time for sleep came, when for each and all his maiden
prepared his couch, and they lay down and were sleeping. The
youngest of the boys got up and unfastened the others' waist-cloths
and tied them on the maidens. He took off their cloaks and put
them on the maidens, he lifted the kerchiefs of the maidens and.
tied them on the boys. He took away the dresses of the girls
and tied them on (the boys).
A short time passed, they were asleep, when this old woman
came. When she felt about with her hand, she discovered who had
cloaks and who waist-cloths. Then she cut (their throats), and
thus she did till she had cut off (the heads) of all her daughters;
(then) she returned and lay down.
But the baby of the family also had seen her, he had not slept.
He got up, dug a hole from the house where they were lying to
their mother's house. Then the baby of the family wakened the
others from sleep. They entered the hole and went home and left
her daughters lying (with their throats) cut.
When day dawned the old woman came. She was rejoicing (because)
she was about to eat meat, then she came across her daughters
(with their throats) cut; then she ate her hand from vexation.
Then she left off, and said, 'I shall be revenged.'
Another day she went into the town (of the young men). (And)
she turned herself into a magaria tree, then the boys,
fifteen in number, climbed up and were sitting there. But she
tore up (the tree) with them and went off to her house with them.
The boys' parents were lamenting. The baby of the family came
and said, 'Leave off crying, I shall bring you your children.'
He went off to the bush, (and) he saw this old woman's cow, then
he went inside its belly.
When the cow came home, it was as if in calf And the old woman
said (to) this cow of hers, 'If you give birth to a son, I shall
cut your throat; if you give birth to a daughter I shall leave
you alone.' And it came to pass that one day the cow gave birth
to a daughter. Now of a truth it was the baby of the family,
he had turned into the child of a cow.
They were living like this, when the baby of the family (who
was now a calf), if the old woman washed her calabashes, jumped
and fell among them and smashed them. One day she washed her
calabashes and put them in the sun to dry, then the cow's calf
jumped and fell on them and smashed them. And the old woman got
in a rage, and said to these boys that they must all rise up,
and go and catch and bring it, and cut (its throat). So the boys
rose up (and) followed the calf.
The calf ran off till (it came) right into the town; the boys
followed it. Then the calf turned into a person, truly it was
(he who was) the baby of the family. And he said, 'Let each come
and catch his son.' So each one came out and caught his son,
and the baby of the family he also went home. Now she (the old
witch) said, 'I will catch him again.'
So she turned into a Fulani woman, (and) took some milk, (and)
brought it into the town. It was said that no one was to look
into the milk. But one of the baby of the family's elder brothers
looked in, and his eyes fell out. Then she took her milk, turned
into a whirlwind, (and) went off with him.
Then he (the baby of the family) came early, (and found his
elder brother) was not at home. And they said, 'A certain Fulani
woman came with milk and lifted the eyes of our elder brother
and went off with them.' And the baby of the family said, 'I
shall get them back.' So he fastened on a (girl's) dress and
head kerchief, (and) went to the old woman's house. When she
saw him, he was like her (own) youngest daughter, and she said,
'Welcome, welcome.' And the baby of the family he also began
to cry, he was weeping and said, 'Bad boys came and sinned against
me, they killed my elder sisters.' The old woman too was saying,
'It is the youngest of my daughters.' And she said,' Cease crying,
youngest of my children, as for us, we shall be revenged.'
She said, 'As for me, see the eyes of the eldest of them I
have brought.' And the baby of the family said, 'Give me that
I may see, mother, the meat (eyes), (and) that I may play with
them.' So the old woman took them, and gave him, she did not
know it was he. He was playing with them, when she said, 'Sit
and look after the house; I am going to the stream and shall
return.' She lifted up the water-pot (and) turned her back.
Then the baby of the family rose up, and ran off with his
brother's eyes; he went with it (them) (and) gave his elder brother.
Then the old woman returned (from the stream) (and) said, 'Where
is (my) youngest child?' She did not see her youngest child,
and she set down the water. After a little while then the maiden
came, and the old woman said, 'Bring the eyes that we may cook
(them).' The maiden said, 'No, you did not give me any eyes.'
And she said, 'La Ila it is the youngest of their family,
he came and deceived me; I said (thought) it was you, but it
cannot be helped, I shall catch him.' She ceased.
Another day the baby of the family went to the bush. He was
hunting when he met the old woman. She caught him, (and) took
him to her house, put him in a hole, (and) covered (him) up,
while she went to the stream. She left her youngest daughter
and told her to wait and watch the baby of the family lest he
Then she went off to the stream. Then her (the witch's) youngest
daughter came to the place where the baby of the family was in
the pit (and) she said, 'Oh, baby of the family, what are you
eating.' And he said, 'Stretch out your hand and I will give
you what I am eating.' So she put out her hand, but the baby
of the family seized her hand, (and) pulled her, (and) cast her
into the pit ; she was inside, she was crying.
The baby of the family covered her up as her mother had covered
him. He took (her) dress and kerchief and tied them on. He remained
there, and was playing about until the old woman came. She said,
'Let me hear that the baby of the family has not run away,' and
he replied, 'He is here, he has not run away.' She boiled hot
water, it boiled, she took it up, and she said, 'Son of a profligate,
to-day he will see.' Then she went to the hole and poured in
(the water), and the maiden, when she felt the heat kept shouting
out, and saying, 'Mother, it is I, mother, it is I.'
He, the baby of the family, said, 'It is a lie you are telling.
May Allah guard mother from giving birth to such as you, may
Allah guard her from giving birth to such as you,' and so on
till she died. She (the old woman) lifted her out, cut (her)
up in small pieces, put her in a pot and cooked her.
When the girl was cooked she put in daudawa spice and
salt, took the pot off the fire, took out the meat and said,
'Youngest daughter, come forward. You alone will eat the son
of the profligate woman.' But he said, 'No, as for me I shall
not eat, now you yourself eat and be filled.' She was crunching,
crunch! crunch! until she had almost eaten (all) the meat. Then
she ceased, and said, 'There is your share, little daughter.'
The baby of the family replied, 'Mother, if you are not full
eat up all,' and she (the old woman) took up what was left and
ate. She left a small piece, put it aside, and said, 'There is
And he who was the youngest of the family said, 'To-day you
have eaten up all your daughters, and there only remains for
you to eat yourself.' Then he threw aside the cloak (and) said,
'Do you see it is I, the baby of my family, you did not eat me.'
Then he ran off, and went home and told the people of his town
(saying) 'Flee'. And the whole town rose up and fled.
When they had gone, then their elder brother said he has dropped
his slipper; he said he would turn back and get it. The baby
of the family said, 'Do not go back,' (but) he said he would
return (for it). The baby of the family said, 'Allow me to return.'
The baby of the family returned, he went and entered the house.
And she (the old woman) came and closed (the door); he climbed
on to the top of the house and caught hold of a beam. Then he
said to her (the old witch), 'If you are wanting to eat me up,
you have only to open your eyes at me when I shall be afraid
and fall down (on you) (and) you will catch me.'
Then she raised her head, and opened very widely eyes at him.
As for him, he had ground peppers with him, so he cast (them)
at her eyes, and she closed (them) the eyes. He came down, and
as he was about to go outside, she caught his foot. But he said,
'Fool, you have caught a stick, and you think it is my foot.'
Then she let go his foot and caught hold of a post; and he came
out, seized the door, shut it (and) set fire to the house. The
old woman was burned.
Then he went and told the chief what they (he) had done with
the old woman, (and) he said, 'Let us return home.' So they returned
home. And the chief said, 'Let the drums be beaten in town and
village and let them assemble.' Drums were beaten in town and
village and every one assembled.
And the chief brought one hundred cloaks, one hundred trousers,
one hundred cattle, one hundred horses, of everything in the
world one hundred of each. He said he gave him half his town
(and) all the things which had been brought, the chief said he
gave to the baby of the family.
And the baby of the family said, 'Chief, a town, if it has
not a protection, is worthless. Let a wall be built before the
people have dispersed.' And the chief said, 'There is no one
able to build a walled town.' And the baby of the family said,
'I shall build it; do you only give me assistance with the men.'
The chief consented, so the baby of the family built a walled
And that was the origin of walled towns, the baby of the family
began that every one might see.
Off with the rat's head.
9. The doctor who went a pilgrimage to Mecca on a
This is a story about a learned man.
A certain doctor of learning set out to go to Mecca in order
to add to his rewards hereafter that they might be many. He had
a very thin mare. He mounted, (and) went deep into the forest
when be saw a hyena. The mare was weary and the hyena said, 'Doctor,
where are you going?' The doctor said, 'I am going the pilgrimage.'
'What is the matter?' (said the hyena). He said, 'It is the mare,
she is weary.' She (the hyena) said, 'Is that it?' the hyena
said, 'Give her (the mare) to me, I shall kill her, and eat her
up. You will mount me and we shall set out.' The doctor said,'So?'
She (the hyena) said, 'Yes.' The doctor said, 'You must not deceive
me.' She replied, 'Come now, Doctor, because I have seen she
was unable to go on, it is because of that, (I speak thus) I
for my part, if you mount me, this instant will I carry you to
Mecca.' The doctor said, 'All right, catch (the mare) and eat
The hyena seized the mare, tore it up, picked up the meat
(and) took it home. She ate it with her cubs (children), they
ate up (all) the meat; (then) she refused to return. The doctor
sat down (and) got tired (of waiting), he did not see that the
hyena has (had) come back. Things were like this, when a jackal
came and met the doctor sitting there.
The jackal said, 'Doctor, what has happened?' The doctor said,
'I have set out from my home going to Mecca, my mare got tired,
I was sitting down, the hyena came across me and asked what was
the matter, and I said, I am going to Mecca, my mare got tired,
and that is the cause of my sitting here.
And the hyena said, Oh, this thing can never take you to Mecca.
Give her to me to eat that I may feel joy, and increase my strength,
so that I may carry you to Mecca. I then said, Hyena, you must
not deceive me, eat up my mare for me, and then run away, (and)
I shall not see you again. She replied, Where do they do that
sort of thing? it is the truth I told you, there is no lie in
it, then I said (thought) it was true, (and) told her to catch
(the mare). That is all, the hyena went off; till to-day I have
not seen her.' And the jackal said, 'Leave off, Doctor, I will
bring her to you now.'
He lifted the saddle and saddle-cloth and bit and halter and
spurs and whip and went off, and he got a lump of meat and took
it. As he went he was dropping the horse furniture one by one
until he got near the mouth of the hole (where the hyena) was.
He put aside the saddlecloth and passed on, and came to the mouth
of her hole, and stood, and announced his arrival.
No answer, for previous to this the hyena has told her children
saying, 'Whoever comes here looking for me, you must say I am
not here.' So when the jackal hailed, they said, 'She is not
here.' And the jackal said, 'Allah curse her, she has no luck;
men are sought for that they may get something good, and bad
luck prevents them from getting it. See, a cow has died, a very
fat one, I have come to call her and show her, and you say, she
is not here. Let me return.'
Then the hyena said, 'Who is seeking me?' The jackal said,
'I am seeking you. Some cow died, a very fat one, I cut off a
big lump and have brought it to you, but these boys are saying
you are not here.' And the hyena said, 'There is no God but Allah!
you have seen, worthless fellows. I was asleep and was sought
for, (and) you say I am not here.' So the hyena came out.
When she came out she said, 'Here I am.' The jackal said,
'Take (it), taste.' She received (the meat), swallowed it; she
did not give to her children. She said, 'Let us be off.' They
took the road, they were going along; the hyena was in front
a long way, the jackal behind. Then she said, 'You cannot walk,
mount me (and) let us get along quickly.'
The jackal mounted her, they were going along; they come across
the saddle-cloth. The jackal said, 'Let me spread this thing
on your back, the hair on your back is getting ruffled.' And
she said, 'Do it quickly and let us get on.' The jackal lifted
and spread it. He mounted, they were going along.
They came across the bit, when the jackal said, 'Let me lift
up this thing and put it in your mouth; perhaps it will be better
for me to hold.' She said, 'Put it on quickly and let us get
on.' The jackal put on the bit (and) mounted.
They were going along; they came across the spurs. He dismounted,
picked up the spurs, (and) put them on his feet, (and) mounted.
They were going along, they were near the doctor, when the
hyena said, 'You must not take this way.' The jackal replied,
'This is where the meat is.' The hyena said, 'Let us make a détour
thus.' They have turned off another way, which the jackal knew,
and got opposite to where the doctor was, when he turned the
bit towards where the doctor was and struck her with the spurs.
Then the hyena sprang forward, saying, 'Uu, uu.' They did
not pull up till (they reached) where the doctor was. The jackal
pulled up in front of the doctor, dismounted, and said, 'Doctor,
behold your debtor. Rise up, mount, and do not get off until
you reach where you are going.
If you dismount, even at the water, do not say she is to be taken
to the stream.' The doctor replied, 'I have heard.'
The doctor mounted, (and) did not get down till he had reached
Mecca. Then he dismounted and gave (the hyena) to (some) boys
to hold, saying, 'You must not mount, you must not take her to
the stream.' The doctor entered the mosque, they were praying.
Then the boys mounted, (and) went off with her to the stream.
When they got behind the town then they galloped. The hyena carried
them off, and entered the bush with them, and ran until she threw
them and went her own way. (Then) the doctor came out of the
mosque; he did not see the boys, he did not see the hyena.
That is all.
Off with the rat's head.
10. A story about a chief and his cook
This is a story about (a chief) Garnakaki.
A certain very powerful chief one day struck camp to go to
war. He had a certain cook, (and) he had a wife, this chief,
whom he loved. Everything the chief had was in this wife's possession.
The cook was after this woman, and she also loved him, until
one day the chief was secretly informed. The chief seized the
cook (and) put him in prison.
Now he, the chief, was very fond of the cook, so he said he
was to be taken out. He was taken out and brought forward. The
chief said, 'In spite of all if you give up my wife, you may
return and continue cooking food.' And he said, 'I shall. leave
her.' Truly it was a lie.
Time went on, (and) he was cooking food for the chief. Of
a truth they were together, (he) and this woman, (and) they were
sinning against the chief, until (one day) they got medicine,
(and) put it in the chief's food. The chief ate and died.
This woman took possession of much of the chief's property
and much of the chief's money. She gave him (the cook) (them)
secretly (and) no one knew, until they had finished taking everything.
Then she came forward and married him. That was the origin of
the saying, 'Love him who loves you, leave him who hates you,
lest he give you medicine to eat (and) you die.'
Off with the rat's head.
11. A story about three youths all skilled in certain
things, and how they used that skill to circumvent a difficulty.
This tale is about (some) youths.
Certain young men went to an outlying village where some young
girls were. They went on, and came to a stream; there was (practically)
no water on the road; the water came (only) up to their ankles.
They passed on.
They came to where the maidens were, and came and greeted
them, and carried them off. They came to the stream and found
it full up with water. (Then) they said, 'Ah (when) we passed
this water it was not so,' and they said, 'How is this?' One
among them said, 'Let us turn back.' The rest said, 'No, we do
not go back.' Now they were three, the king of wrestlers, the
king of bowmen, and the king of prayer.
(And) they said, 'Let each try and get out of the difficulty
by resorting to his own particular skill.'
They said, 'Let the one who is strong in prayer commence.'
So he prostrated himself, spat on his staff (and) struck the
water; (and) the water opened, and he with his maiden passed
over. Then the water returned to where it was.
Next the prince of bowmen drew out his arrows from his quiver,
he set them in a line on the water, from one bank to another,
he returned and lifted up his maiden. They stepped on the arrows,
(and) passed over. Then he came back, (and) picked up his arrows.
There remained the king of wrestlers. He too sought for what
he should do; he could not find a way. He tried this way, (and)
failed, he made that plan (and) failed, until he was weary. Then
he got in a rage, (and) seized his maiden, and with a wrestling
trick twisted his leg round hers (and) they jumped, (and) rose
in the air, (and) did not fall, except on the edge of the (far)
Now among them who was better than another? If you do not
know who was least, there you are.
Off with the rat's head.
12. A story about a giant, and the cause of thunder
This story is about a forest giant, about him and a man called,
A story, a story. Let it go, let it come.
There was a certain man by name, A-Man-among-Men, always when
he came from the bush he used to lift up a tree (and) come, (and)
throw (it down), and say, 'I am A-Man-among-Men.' His wife said,
'Come now, leave off saying you are a-man-among-men; if you saw
a-man-among-men you would run.' But he said, 'It is a lie.'
Now it was always so, if he has brought in wood, then he would
throw it down with force, (and) say, 'I am A-Man-among-Men.'
The wife said, 'Come now, leave off saying so; if you have seen
a man-among-men, you would run.' But he said, I It is a lie.'
Now one day his wife went to the stream. She came to a certain
well; the well bucket, ten men were (necessary to) draw it up.
She came, (but) had to do without the water, so she turned back.
She was going home, when she met another woman (who) said, 'Where
are you going with a calabash, with no water?' She said, 'I have
come and seen a bucket there. I could not draw it; that is what
caused me to turn back home.' And this (second) woman, who had
this (a) son, said, 'Let us return that you may find (water).'
She said, 'All right.'
So they returned together to the well. This woman, who had
the son, told the boy to lift the bucket and draw water. Now
the boy was small, not past the age when he was carried on his
mother's back. Then he lifted the bucket then and there, and
put it in the well, (and) drew up the water. They filled their
large water-pots, they bathed, they washed their clothes, they
lifted up the water to go home. This one was astonished.
Then she saw that one who had the boy has turned off the path
and was entering the bush. Then the wife of (him called) A-Man-among-Men
said, 'Where are you going?' She said to her, 'I am going home,
where else?' She said, 'Is that the way to your home?' She said,
'Yes.' She said, 'Whose home is it?' She said, 'The home of A-Man-among-Men.'
Then she was silent; she did not say anything till she got
home. She told her husband. He said that to-morrow she must take
him (there). She replied, 'May Allah give us a to-morrow.' Next
morning he was the first to get up from sleep. He took the weapons
of the chase and slung them over his shoulder. He put his axe
on his shoulder and wakened her (his wife) from sleep. He said,
'Get up, let us go. Take me that I may see, that I may see the
(one called) A-Man-among-Men.'
She got up, lifted her large water-pot, and passed on in front.
He was following her until they got to the edge of the well.
Now they found what they sought indeed. (As) they were coming,
the wife of A-Man-among-Men came up, both she and her son. They
greeted her, and the wife of this one showed him the bucket (and)
said, 'Lift it and draw water for me.'
So he went and lifted the bucket in a rage and let it down
the well; but the bucket pulled him, (and) he would have fallen
into the well, when the little boy seized him, both him and the
bucket, and drew (out) and threw them on one side. Then the boy
lifted up the bucket, put it in the well, drew water, and filled
His wife said, 'You have said you are going to see him called
A-Man-among-Men. You have seen this is his wife and son. If you
still want to go you can go together. As for me, I am not going.'
The boy's mother said, 'Oh, what is the matter? You had better
not come.' (But) he said he would come; and she said, 'Let us
be off.' They set out.
When they arrived (at the house) then she showed him a place
for storing meat, (and) he got inside. Now he, the master of
the house, was not at home; he has gone to the bush. She (his
wife) said, 'You have seen he has gone to the bush; but you must
not stir if he has come.' He sat inside till evening came.
The master of the house came. He keeps saying, 'I smell the
smell of a man.' His wife said, 'Is there another person here?
It is not is not I.' Thus, if he said he smelled the smell of
a man, then she would say, 'Is there another person here. Is
it not I? If you want to eat me up, well and good, for there
is no one else but I.'
Now he was a huge man, his words like a tornado; ten elephants
he would eat. When dawn came, he made his morning meal of one;
then he went to the bush, and if he should see a person there
he would kill him.
Now he (A Man-among-Men) was in the store-house, hidden. The
man's wife told him, saying, 'You must not move till he is asleep.
If you have seen the place dark, he is not asleep; if you have
seen the place light, that is a sign he is asleep; come out and
fly.' Shortly after he saw the place has become light like day,
so he came out.
He was running, he was running, until dawn, he was running,
till the sun rose he was running, he did not stand. Then that
man woke up from sleep and he said, 'I smell the smell of a man,
I smell the smell of a man.' He rose up, he followed where the
man had gone. He was running. He also, the other one, was running
till he met some people who were clearing the ground for a farm,
(and) they asked what had happened. And he said, 'Some one chased
(is chasing) me.' They said, 'Stand here till he comes.'
A short time passed, and the wind caused by him came; it lifted
them (and) cast them down. And he said, 'Yes, that is it, the
wind he makes (running); he himself has not yet come. If you
are able (to withstand him) tell me. If you are not able, say
so.' And they said, 'Pass on.'
So he ran off, and came and met some people hoeing. They said,
'What chased (is chasing) you?' He replied, 'Some one pursued
(is pursuing) me.' They said, 'What kind of a man chased (is
chasing) (one) such as you.' He said, 'Some one who says he is
A-Man-among-Men. They said, 'Not a man-among-men, a man-among-women.
Stand till he comes.'
He stood. Here he was when the wind of him came, it was pushing
about the men who were hoeing. So he said, 'You have seen, that
is the wind he makes; he has not yet come himself If you are
a match for him tell me; if not say so.' And they said, 'Pass
on'; and off he ran. He was running. He came across some people
sowing; they said, 'What are you running for?' He said, 'Some
one chased (is chasing) me.' And they said, 'What kind of a man
is it who chased (is chasing) the like of you?' He said, 'His
name is A-Man-among-Men.' They said, 'Sit here till he comes.'
He sat down.
In a short time the wind he made came (and) it lifted them
and cast them down. And they said, 'What kind of wind is that?'
He, the man who was being pursued, said, 'It is his wind.' And
they said, 'Pass on.' They threw away the sowing implements,
(and) went into the bush (and) hid,
but that one was running on.
He came (and) met a certain huge man; he was sitting alone
at the foot of a baobab tree. He had killed elephants and was
roasting them, as for him, twenty elephants he could eat; in
the morning he broke his fast with five. His name was 'The Giant
of the Forest.'
Then he questioned him and said, 'Where are you going in all
this haste?' And he said, 'A-Man-among-Men chased (is chasing)
me.' And the Giant of the Forest said, 'Come here, sit down till
he comes.' He sat down. They waited a little while. Then a wind
made by A-Man-among-Men came, and lifted him, (and) was about
to carry him off, when the Giant of the Forest shouted to him
to come back. And he said, 'It is not I myself who am going off,
the wind caused by the man is taking me away.' At that the Giant
of the Forest got in a rage, he got up and caught his hand, and
placed it under his thigh.
He was sitting until A-Man-among-Men came up and said, 'You
sitting there, are you of the living, or of the dead?' And the
Giant of the Forest said, 'You are interfering.' And A-Man-among-Men
said, 'If you want to find health give up to me what you are
keeping there.' And the Giant of the Forest said, 'Come and take
(him).' And at that he flew into a rage and sprang and seized
him. They were struggling together.
When they had twisted their legs round one another they leaped
up into the heavens. Till this day they are wrestling there;
when they are tired out they sit down and rest; and if they rise
up to struggle that is the thunder you are wont to hear in the
sky; it is they struggling.
He also, that other one, found himself (escaped), and went
home, and told the tale. And his wife said, 'That is why I was
always telling you whatever you do, make little of it. Whether
it be you excel in strength, or in power, or riches, or poverty,
and are puffed up with pride, it is all the same; some one is
better than you. You said, it was a lie. Behold, your own eyes
Off with the rat's head.
13. A story about an orphan which was the origin
of the saying 'The orphan with a coat of skin is hated, but when
it is a metal one he is honoured'
This story is about orphans.
A story, a story. Let it go. Let it come.
A certain man died and left two sons, and their mothers, two
women. Then among the mothers one fell sick. She was taking medicine
for her illness, (but) it refused to mend. When she saw she was
apparently going to die; then she said to her sister, that one
(her late husband's) second wife, 'You have seen this illness
of mine will not go away. I know I am going to die, when Allah,
the exalted one, has taken my life from me, behold there is a
son (lit. your son) I have left to you and put in your charge,
for the sake of Allah and the prophets.' She said, 'It is well,
I have heard.'
And it came to pass the day came when she died, and the boy
had not reached an age when he had full knowledge. Then the funeral
rites were completed. Some time passed after her death. Now her
son and the son of the other (woman) possessed fowls, (and) were
rearing them, he (had) one, (and) the orphan one.
One day she lifted a stick, and hit the orphan's (fowl) on
purpose, (and) killed it (when) he was not at home. When he returned
he saw his hen dead; he did not say anything except 'Alas! Allah,
the powerful one, to-day my hen has died.' Then he picked it
up, (and) plucked it, (and) put it on the fire, and prepared
it well, (and) placed a pot on the fire, (and) cooked it thoroughly.
He took it up, (and) went (with it) to the market.
Whoever came and said he wanted to buy it, he would answer
he would not sell it, except for a horse. Then the chief's son
carne, the one the chief loved; he too was quite a little boy.
He was mounted on a powerful horse; and he said the flesh of
this hen was what he wanted and it must be sold to him. But the
orphan said, if he did not give him the horse, as for him, no
one would eat his meat. So he was given the horse, (and) the
chief's son the meat, and the former took his horse home.
But his mother said, 'Take your horse (and) put it in this
house, and close up the door with earth; in about seven days,
if you open it, you will see it has become fat enough to burst
its house.' Her idea was if he did so it (the horse) would be
dead. Now the boy thought this was true, so he put the horse
in the house, and plastered up the door. When about ten days
had elapsed, he opened the door, and he saw his horse had become
But his step-mother got black of heart because the horse did
not die. Well, things went on, and one day she said, 'To-day
there are no grain-stalks to cook with.' He must sell his horse
and buy stalks of grain. But he said, 'Oh my mother, why must
the horse be sold to buy stalks of grain?' She said, 'Because
I am not your mother, because of that do you argue with me?'
He said, 'I am not disputing, I shall go and seek the grain stalks.'
She said, 'Stop! If you do not sell the horse leave things as
they are.' And the orphan said, 'It cannot be helped.'
He went and sold. the horse and received the grain stalks,
(and) brought them to her. She burned all the stalks; she did
not leave any at all, except three very small pieces which were
left. He picked them up, sewed a little bag and tied them inside.
Another day he rose up and went to another village for a walk,
and climbed up on the fetish altar. They saw him, (and) seized
him, (and) said they would cut (his throat). But he said, 'I
have heard the news that your chief is blind, and for that reason
I came to make medicine for him. If you don't want (me to) then
kill me.' But they said, 'We wish (it).'
So he was brought to the chief's house and given a hut. When
night came he lifted up his grain stalks; these which the fire
had left. He set fire to one (stalk) and walked round the back
of the chief's house till it died out. And the chief began to
see a very little. Then he lit another, when it was finished
(burned out), then both the chief's eyes opened. Thereupon they
gave him honour.
At dawn the chief assembled the people (and) said, I You have
seen the boy has made medicine for me. My eyes are healed, and
I shall give him half of the town to rule over.' But he (the
boy) answered, I am only a trader, passing, and I do not rule.'
They said, If you will not rule, take whatever you wish and go.'
So he took slaves, and cattle, and everything beautiful, and
went off with them, and entered (his) town with them. The people
were astonished. But his step-mother said, 'Come, let us go to
the road by the stream, I have seen a rat enter a hole; you dig
it for me to make soup.' And he said, 'Come now, my mother, what
kind of meat (is a rat's)? Behold guinea-fowls, and hens, and
And she said, 'We all know you have wealth; as for me though,
rat's meat is what I want.' So he said, 'There is no harm in
that. Let us go, you show me.' Now really she has seen it was
a snake's hole (but she told him this) in order that she might
bring him trouble.
Now a big slave of his rose up (to accompany him). She said,
'Sit down, I have seen you are the owner of slaves, but it is
you alone we (1) will go with. If you will not come, then stay.'
So he told his slaves to sit down and he would go (alone). They
sat down. They set off, (he) and his step-mother. She went and
showed him the hole.
When he was about to dig, then she said, 'Put down your hoe
(and) push in your hand.' So he put in (his) hand and drew out
a bracelet. He said, 'There it is.' She said, 'That is not it.
A rat, I said, was there.' So he put in his hand again and drew
out a golden bangle. But she got angry and went back home. She
called her own son; he came, whereupon she said he must put in
his hand and catch a rat for her. On putting in his hand a snake
bit his hand, and they carried him
home. He died before they reached home. She also died in three
The orphan inherited the house (property). This is the origin
of the saying, 'The orphan with the cloak of skin is hated, but
when it is a metal one he is looked (favourably) on.'
That is all.
Off with the rat's head.
14. A story of a jealous man and what befell him
This is a story about a jealous man.
A story, a Story. Let it go. Let it come.
There was a certain man who used to live in a town, but afterwards
he rose up and went to the bush, lest people might go after his
wives, until one day the chief of the town heard about him and
he said, 'He who goes and seduces his wives, if he comes (to
me) I will give him a horse, and a cloak, and one hundred thousand
Then a certain man said he would be the one to go and lie
with his wife before his eyes. Then he went off and sought some
baobab seeds. He opened them, (and) cleaned out the inside well;
he sought for some very small pieces of money and poured them
inside. He went, reached (the place where the man was) (and)
gave him a present of them.
When he broke (one) open he saw the small money inside. He
broke another also, (and) in the same way broke open another.
And he said, I My friend, will you not show me where this baobab
tree is?' He replied, The place where this baobab tree is is
far away.' (And) he said, Take me (to it).' And he said, 'It
cannot be climbed except by a ladder, (and) no one knows where
it is save me.'
And he continued to entreat him; and at last the seducer said,
I Let us go, I will take you there, but if it was not for you,
I would not show any one the place.' So they set out along with
his wife. When they came to the baobab tree then the seducer
lifted the ladder and placed it (against the tree), (and) told
the woman's husband to climb up. So up he climbed.
When he had finished climbing, then he lifted away the ladder,
(and) carried it somewhere else (and) set it down, (and) came
back. He seized the wife and threw her down. He did what he intended,
the woman's husband looking on (and) not able to descend; but
he said, 'I shall spit on you, I shall spit on you,' until they
had finished what they were doing.
The seducer went his way. He came, (and) told the chief what
they had done. The chief gave him his reward, and added to his
gifts. He said, 'That's the medicine he required.' As for the
(jealous) man, his wife with difficulty lifted the ladder, (and)
brought it to him, (and) he descended. On his return home he
collected all his goods, (and) returned (to live) in the town.
He said, 'My jealousy dragged me into this; if I remain here,
people will destroy me.'
That is the story.
Off with the rat's head.
15. A story of a great friendship and how it was
put to the test
This story is about some young men who were friends.
Some boys made a covenant of friendship; they lived together,
(and) were inseparable. They had their maidens in an outlying
village. Always they used to go together (and) bring them. On
one occasion, one of his friends did not go, so only one went
to bring the maidens. When he went, he brought back the maids.
(As) they were going along, they met a lion; and it knocked
down and lay on one of the girls, but he, he drew his sword and
cut at the lion's head. The lion died, and he found the maiden
was not dead. And he told her to lie down beneath the lion along
with him, and one of them was to go and tell his friend.
So she consented, (and) ran off (and) found he has begun to
sleep. She roused him, (and) he said, 'Where are So-and-so and
So-and-so?' And she said, 'They are out there, a lion has killed
them.' And he rose up, he did not take anything with him, he
went along and came and reached (where) the lion was; it was
He did not hesitate, but sprang and climbed on the lion. He
thought it was alive. Truly it was dead. Then his friend rose
up and said, 'Rise, So-and-so, you have proved yourself (a free-born)
man.' So they lifted up the maiden (and) went home.
Now among them who was better than another?
If you do not know, there it is.
Off with the rat's head.
16. A story about a test of skill
This story is about a (test of) skill.
A story, a story.
A certain chief begat children, three males. One day his councillors
assembled. He said he himself wished to see the most skilled
among them. There was a huge baobab tree (near) the entrance
to the chief's house. He said he wanted them to mount (their)
horses, (and) come (and) show their skill, where this baobab
So they mounted their chargers, (and) went far away. The eldest
galloped (and) came, (and) thrust that baobab with (his) spear.
The spear went right through and he followed, passing through
the hole made by the spear, with his horse. And he passed on.
The next to follow the eldest came on. When he was near to
the baobab tree he lifted his horse (on the bit) and jumped the
When the youngest galloped, he came, (and) pulled up the whole
baobab, roots and all, and came on waving it aloft at his father,
and the place rang with applause.
Now I ask you who excelled among them. If you do not know,
that is all.
Off with the rat's head.
17. A story about Miss Salt, Miss Pepper, &c.
This story is about Salt, and Daudawa (sauce) and Nari (spice),
and Onion-leaves, and Pepper and Daudawar-batso (a sauce).
A story, a story! Let it go, let it come.
Salt, and Daudawa, and Ground-nut, and Onion-leaves, and Pepper,
and Daudawar-batso heard a report of a certain youth, by name
Daskandarini. Now he was a beautiful youth, the son of the evil
spirit. They (all) rose up, (and) turned into beautiful maidens,
(and) they set off. As they (Salt, Onion-leaves, &c.) were
going along, Daudawar-batso followed them.
They drove her off, telling her she stank. But she crouched
down until they had gone on. She kept following them behind,
until they reached a certain stream. (There) they came across
an old woman; she was bathing. She said they must rub down her
back for her, but this one said, 'May Allah save me that I should
lift my hand to touch an old woman's back.' And the old woman
did not say anything more.
They passed on, and soon Daudawar-batso came, (and) met her
washing. She greeted her, (and) she answered (and) said, 'Maiden,
where are you going?' She replied, 'I am going to where a certain
youth is.' (And) she (the old woman) said, 'Rub my back for me!'
She said, 'All right.' She stopped, (and) rubbed her back well
for her. The old woman said, 'May Allah bless you.' And she said,
'This youth to whom you are (all) going to, have you known his
name?' She said, 'No, we do not know his name.'
Then the old woman said, 'He is my son, his name is Daskandarini,
but you must not tell them.' Then she ceased. She was following
them far behind till they got to the place where the boy was.
They were about to enter, but he said, 'Go back, (and) enter
one at a time.' They said, 'It is well,' and returned. And then
Salt came forward, (and) was about to enter, little girl, go
back.' She turned back. So Daudawa came forward.
When she was about to enter, she was asked, 'Who are you?'
She said,'It is I.' 'Who are you? What is your name?' 'My name
is Daudawa, who makes the soup sweet.' And he said, 'What is
my name?' She said, 'I do not know your name, little boy, I do
not know your name.' He said, 'Turn back, little girl, turn back.'
She turned back, (and) sat down.
Then Nari (spice) rose up and came forward, (and) she was
about to enter when she was asked, 'Who is this little girl?
Who is this?' She said, 'It is I who greet you, little boy,
it is I who greet you.''What is your name, little girl, what
is your name?' 'My name is Nari, who makes the soup savoury.'
'I have heard your name, little girl, I have heard your name.
Speak my name.' She said, 'I do not know your name, little boy,
I do not know your name.' 'Turn
back, little girl, turn back.' So she turned back, (and) sat
Then Onion-leaves rose and came up, and she stuck her head
(into the room) and was asked, 'Who is this little girl, who
is this? It is I who salute you, little boy, it is I who salute
you.' What is your name, little girl, what is your name? My name
is Onion-leaves, who makes the soup smell nicely.' He said, 'I
have heard your name, little girl. What is my name?' She said,
'I do not know your name, little boy, I do not know your name.'
'Turn back, little boy (girl), turn back.' So she turned back.
Now Pepper came along; she said, 'Your pardon, little boy,
your pardon.' She was asked who was there. She said, 'It is I,
Pepper, little boy, it is I, Pepper, who make the soup hot.'
'I have heard your name, little girl, I have heard your name.
Tell (me) my name, little girl, tell (me) my name.' 'I do not
know your name, little boy, I do not know your name.' He said,
'Turn back, little maid, turn back.'
There was only left Daudawar-batso, and they said, 'Are not
you coming?' She said, 'Can I enter the house where such good
people as you have gone, (and) been driven away? Would not they
the sooner (drive) me out who stink?' They said, 'Rise up (and)
go.' So she got up (and) went. He asked her, 'Who is there, little
girl, who is there?' And she said, 'It is I who am greeting you,
little boy, it is I who am greeting you.' 'What is your name,
little girl, what is your name?' 'My name is Batso, little boy,
my name is Batso, which makes the soup smell.' He said, 'I have
heard your name, little girl, I have heard your name. There remains
my name to be told.' She said, 'Daskandarini, little boy, Daskandarini.'
And he said, 'Enter.'
A rug was spread for her, clothes were given to her, and slippers
of gold; and then (of) these who had driven her away one said,
'I will always sweep for you'; another, 'I will pound for you.'
Another said, 'I will see about drawing water for you'; and another,
'I will pound (the ingredients) of the soup'; and another, 'I
will stir the food.' They all became her handmaids.
And the moral of all this is, if you see a man is poor do
not despise him; you do not know but that some day he may be
better than you.
That is all.
Off with the rat's head.
18. The story of Muusa (Moses) and how it came about
that brothers and sisters do not marry each other
This story is about (a boy called) Musa.
A story, a story. Let it go. Let it come.
A certain chief begat children, two in number, a girl and
a boy. They grew up. A husband was found for her, the daughter,
(but) she said she did not want him; only her big brother she
loved. If she was told to go and call Musa, then she went, (and)
said, 'What's-your-name, they say you are to come.' And it was
always so, (till) one day her brother said, 'I shall cure her
of that.' (Lit. I shall make its medicine.)
There was a small stream at their village, the children used
to bathe in it when the sun was up; there was a tree in the middle
of the stream at their village where the girls used to fasten
their little loincloths. And Musa waited in the meantime.
When they had come (and) entered the water (and) bathed they
laid aside their loin-cloths at the water's edge. Then he (Musa),
came and took them all away, and went and climbed the tree in
the middle of the water (middle of the water), each one who came
out did not see his (her) cloth, whereupon he (she) began to
And Musa was up above and watching till they all came out.
He said, 'All of you, see, your cloths are with me. Whoever calls
out my name, I will give him (her) his (her) cloth; otherwise
I will not give you.' Then one girl came forward. She said, 'You,
Musa, you, Musa, Musa the spiteful one, Musa the son of chiefs,
for Allah's sake, Musa, give me my loin-cloth.' And he gave her
(it). And so on, and so on, until they all received from him
their cloths, and there was only left his little sister.
And she was told, 'Go and get your cloth.' Now the water was
up to the ankles. Then she entered the water (and) said, 'You,
Musa, Musa, the spiteful one, Musa the son of chiefs, for Allah's
sake, Musa, give me my loincloth.' But Musa said 'I do not give
it to you till you have said it again, then I will give it to
Now she has forgotten (for a minute that she would not say
his name); when she remembered, then she said, 'You, What's-your-name,
you, What's-your-name, What's-your-name the spiteful one, What's-your-name
the son of chiefs, for the sake of Allah, What's-your-name, give
me my cloth.'
But he said, 'I have refused to give you, I have refused to
give you, till you say, You, Musa, you, Musa, Musa the spiteful
one, Musa the son of chiefs, for the sake of Allah, Musa, give
me my cloth.' Now by this time the water was up to her shins.
Then she said, 'You, What's-your-name, you, What's-your-name,
What's-your-name the spiteful one, What's-your-name the son of
chiefs, for Allah's sake, What's-your-name, give me my loin-cloth.'
But now the water had reached her thighs. But Musa said, 'I
have refused to give you unless you have said, You, Musa, Musa
the spiteful one, Musa the son of chiefs, for the sake of Allah,
Musa, give me my cloth.' She said, 'You, What's-your-name, you,
What's-your-name, What's -your-name, the spiteful one, What's-your-name
the son of chiefs, for the sake of Allah, What's your name, give
me my loin-cloth.'
But Musa said, 'I have refused to give you, I have refused
to give you, unless you say, You, Musa, you, Musa, Musa the spiteful
one, Musa the son of chiefs, for the sake of Allah, Musa, give
me my cloth.' And the water reached to her breasts, but she said,
'You, What's-your-name, you, What's-your-name, What's-your- name,
the spiteful, What's-your-name the son of chiefs, for Allah's
sake, What's -your-name, give me my cloth.'
But Musa said, 'I have refused to give you till you have called
out my name.' And the water was up to her neck. And they said,
'Speak his name; if you do not speak the water will swallow you
up.' Now the water was trying hard to reach her chin. Then she
said, I You, Musa, you, Musa, Musa the spiteful one, Musa the
son of chiefs, for the sake of Allah, Musa, give me my cloth.'
But he said, 'Repeat it.' She said it (again).. He said, 'Again.'
She repeated it, until three times. He said, 'Are you going to
say again that I am your husband?' She said, 'No.' 'Do you want
the husband whom you have been given?' She said, 'Yes.'
This was the beginning (of the custom) that a brother should
not marry his sister.
That is all.
Off with the rat's head.
19. A story about a hunter and his son
This tale is about a hunter (lit. a shooter) and a chief.
There was once a certain man who had no other work but hunting,
both he and his son. One day (he) they went to the bush with
his son. They did not find anything but a rat, and his son threw
the rat away. But they became hungry (and) the father said, 'Roast
our rat for me, (and) let us eat.' The boy said, 'Oh, but I have
thrown it away.' The father said, '. . .' (cursing him), (and)
the father lifted (his) axe and struck the boy; he fainted.
He (the father) went his way, (and) left him. The boy came
round, he rose up, and went home by night. He found them asleep,
so he entered the room and lifted his belongings. He took the
road, (and) was going to a certain town. When he reached the
town it was night; he entered into the town. Every one was asleep.
He proceeded into the middle of the town until he reached
the chief's house. He entered until he was right in the house,
(he was) naked, without clothes, without trousers, and he met
the chief The chief said, 'From where?' (And) he replied, 'From
such and such a village.' And the chief said, 'Is it well with
The boy said, 'Both I and my father went to the bush to walk
and shoot. We did not find anything but one single rat, he gave
(it) me to keep, I forgot it somewhere. When we became hungry,
then he said, Bring the rat that we may roast it and eat. And
I said, I have dropped it, I do not know where. Thereupon he
became angry. He lifted his axe (and) struck me. I fainted. When
evening came then I recovered (and) rose up, (and) came here.'
Now the chief had gone to war, and his son had been captured
and killed. The chief had no male child. And the chief said,
I Now will you not keep a secret for me?' The boy said, 'What
kind of a secret?' The chief said, 'I have no male child, when
dawn comes I shall say you are my son, who was caught at the
war, and that you ran away and came back.' The boy said, 'That
is surely not difficult.'
(Then) the chief entered his room (and) took up his gun (and)
fired it (it was) in the middle of the night. And 'the mother
of the house' came out (and) said, 'King, lion who causes fear,
what is the gun you are firing in the night?' The chief said,
'So-and-so has returned.' Thereupon the mother of the house raised
the sound of joy, and the town rose up, (and) they were asking,
'What had happened at the chief's house, (seeing that) they are
firing a gun at this time of night?' (And) they said that the
chief's son had come, he who had been caught at the war.' And
they said, 'Indeed! indeed!'
When it was dawn the boy bathed (and) the chief gave him (gifts)
goods (and) he came forth. (Among) the councillors some said,
'It is not his son.' Others said, 'It is his son.' Now one day
the head-men joined their heads together, (and) said, 'Wait,
and we shall see if it is (really) his son.' Then they added
goods (presents) to those their children already had, (and) they
put the saddles on the war-horses for them. (And) they (the children)
mounted, (and the fathers) said to them, 'Go to the chief's house
and call his son, and say you are going to take horse exercise.'
And they said, 'When you have gone and galloped and pulled
up, you must dismount, (and) kill your horses, (and) come home.'
(And) each one gave his son a sword (and) he slung it on his
shoulder, (and) they came to the chief's house and called the
Now truly some tale-bearer has overheard, (and) he went and
told the chief. The chief made similar preparation (horse, &c.)
and put the things aside, (and) said, 'If the naked man can dance,
much more can the man with the cloak.' The chief called the boy,
(and) told him, (and) said, 'When you have gone, everything you
see they have done, do you also do.' So the boys came, (and)
called the son of the chief, (and) they set off.
As they went they galloped; then they dismounted (and) killed
their horses. So the son of the chief he too galloped, pulled
up, dismounted, (and) killed his horse. They went home. And the
head-men said, 'It is a lie, to-morrow you go back.' When it
was dawn they came (and) called him. The chief caused (his) body-guard
to fasten the saddle on a great horse for him. They went off;
as they went they galloped. Then they dismounted, (and) killed
The chief's son also, when he had galloped, then he killed
his horse, (and) they returned home. Then the sub-chiefs gave
their sons slaves, beautiful maidens, (and) said, 'Take them
to the midst of the bush (and) slaughter them.' The tale-bearer
(again) went and informed the chief, and the chief gave his son
two female slaves, he said, 'Go, whatever you see they have done,
do you do too.'
They went to the bush. The sons of the head-men killed their
female slaves (and) the chief's son also killed his, (and) they
returned home. And they said, 'It is his son.' And so time went
till one day the boy's father came; he was carrying his quiver
slung. He met the councillors; he heard all he wished to know,
(and) then passed on till (he came) before the chief.
He greeted them; the boy was sitting (by his side); and he
said, 'Are you not going to get up that we may go and dig for
our rats?' The boy was silent. Then the chief rose up, (and)
entered the house, (and) called them. He said, 'Hunter, keep
the secret for me, and whatever you wish I will give you.' The
hunter refused. The chief entreated him. The chief said, 'Everything
in the world I will give you, one hundred of each.' But the hunter
The chief said, 'Saddle up for me.' They saddled, they saddled
(a horse) for the boy. The chief gave the boy a sword, (and)
slung it across his shoulder. They went off to the bush. The
chief halted (and) said to the boy, 'Either you kill me, (and)
take these goods (horse, &c.), (and) give to your father,
(and) return to the town, (and) enter into your (kingship) world,
or you kill your father, (and) you and I will go back and live
The boy was distracted, (not knowing what to do). Now if it
were you, O white man, among them whom would you kill?
If you do not know whom you would kill, there it is.
Off with the rat's head.
20. A story about a maiden and the pumpkin
This is a story about a pumpkin and a maiden.
There was a certain man by name Alabarma, a rich man. He had
much money, (but) he had not any children. But among his concubines
was one called Watapansa, (and) she had given birth to one daughter;
and he, Alabarma, did not wish anything to touch this little
Now the girl's name was Furaira. And one day her mother took
her on her back and they went off to the bush in order that she
might ease herself. And Furaira saw one young pumpkin, that was
all she (the mother pumpkin) had; there was not another. And
she, (the little girl) said, 'Alabarma (Watapansa?) pluck the
baby pumpkin for me to play (with).'
But Alabarma (Watapansa?) said, 'Come now, Furaira, how is
this? One solitary baby pumpkin is there. See, there is its mother,
(which) I will pluck and give you.' But Furaira began to cry
and her mother Alabarma (Watapansa?) said, 'If you are going
to cry you must just cry, but I am not going to pluck the solitary
baby pumpkin to give you.'
They returned home, (and) the little girl continued weeping.
Her father asked (the cause). Her mother told him from the beginning.
And the little girl's father said, 'Go back, (and) pluck (it),
-and give to her.' So she returned, (and) plucked it, (and) gave
her. Then that day the baby pumpkin commenced to follow the maiden.
It kept saying, 'Meat I must eat, Furaira, meat I must eat.'
And they came and bore witness to him saying, 'Look at Furaira,
the baby pumpkin is following her (and) saying he must eat meat.'
Alabarma said, 'Put it among the goats.' It (the pumpkin) was
put among the goats. It ate them up. It was taken to some others.
It ate them up. And so on till it had devoured three hundred
and fifty flocks of goats. But the pumpkin returned and said,
I Meat I must cat, Furaira, meat I must eat.'
They came and told her father and he said, 'Let it be taken
to the sheep-fold.' It was taken, and ate up a flock of seven
hundred sheep. It came back, (and) kept following the maiden,
(and) saying, 'Meat I must eat, Furaira, meat I must eat.' And
they said, 'It has eaten the flock of
sheep, (and) has come back and is following her (the maiden).'
Her father said, 'Let it be taken to the cattle kraal.' It
was taken to the cattle kraal. It ate up the whole kraal of cattle.
It returned, (and) was following the maiden (and) saying, 'Meat
I must eat, Furaira, meat I must eat.'
And they came and told her father, and he again said, 'Let
it be taken to the camel kraal.' It was taken to the camel kraal;
but it ate them up, (and) returned.It was following the maiden
(and) saying, 'Meat I must eat, Furaira, meat I must eat.' And
they said, I Let it be taken to the slaves' quarters.'
It was taken to the slaves' quarters, it ate them up; it returned,
(and) was following the maiden, (and) saying, 'Meat I must eat,
Furaira, meat I must eat.'
Her father said, 'Take it to the cattle grazing ground.' They
took it to the grazing ground (and) it devoured all the people
on the ground, (and) came back, (and) said, 'Meat I must eat,
Furaira, meat I must eat.'
And so on, until it ate up all the people, cattle, goats,
sheep, camels, horses, all it devoured, even the fowls, guinea-fowls,
ducks, pigeons, everything (and) there remained only the master
of the household. And it (the pumpkin) followed the maiden, and
she ran, (and) went after her father, and her father said, 'There
is nothing left but I myself. If it is I you would eat, take
me, (and) eat me.'
And the baby pumpkin took him up and swallowed him; then it
followed the maid. She fled, and came to the paschal ram of her
father's. And it came on, (and) was about to seize the maiden,
but the paschal ram sprang forward, (and) struck the young pumpkin
with his horn. And thereupon it split open, and sheep, and goats,
and cattle, all kept coming forth.
That is all.
Off with the rat's head.
21. The Gaawoo-tree and the maiden, and the first
person who ever went mad
This story is about a 'gawo'-tree and a maiden.
There was a certain man, by name, Doctor Umaru, the husband
of Ladi. He possessed two wives, one (called) Mowa, one (called)
Baura. They both had children, girls. The one called Mowa, always,
if she has swept, then she used to give (the sweepings) to her
daughter, (and) she took them to where the gawo-tree was and
threw (them) away.
Now the gawo-tree had some growth on it that looked like a
person's navel, and if this maiden took the sweepings (there)
she used to touch (it) and say, 'The gawo-tree with the navel.'
And it was always so she used to do. One day she went, (and)
threw out the sweepings, (and) then touched (the mark).
But the gawo-tree pulled himself out (of the ground) (and)
followed her, (and) was saying, 'Of a morning it's, The gawo-tree
with the navel; of an evening it's, The gawo-tree with the navel.'
Then the maiden ran away, (and) the gawo-tree followed her. She
came (and) met some people sowing, (and) they said, 'You, maiden,
what is the matter?' She said, 'Something is following me.'
(And) they said, 'Sit down here till it comes. We will take
the sowing implements, (and) beat him (and) kill (him).' They
waited a little and then the gawo-tree came along. He was saying,
'In the morning it's, The gawo-tree with the navel; in the evening
it's, The gawo-tree with the navel.' Thereupon the sowers said,
'Maiden, go further on.'
And the maiden ran on. She came and met some people hoeing,
and they said, 'Maiden, what is the matter?' And she said, 'Something
is following me.' (And) they said, 'Stand here, let him come.
Can we not then lift our hoes, (and) hit him, (and) kill (him)?'
They waited a little while, then the gawo-tree came towards them;
he was saying, 'In the morning it's, The gawo-tree with the navel;
in the evening it's, The gawo-tree with the navel; to-day you
see the gawo-tree with the navel.' And they said, 'Maiden, pass
So she passed on, and went and met some people ploughing.
They were ploughing, and they said, 'You, maiden, what is the
matter?' She replied, 'Something is following me.' And they said,
'Sit down here till he comes.' In a little while, then the gawo-tree
came up; he was saying, 'In the morning it's, The gawo-tree with
the navel; in the evening it's, The gawo-tree with the navel.
To-day you see the gawo-tree with the navel.' Thereupon they
said, 'Maiden, pass on.'
So the maiden ran on. Then she came (and) met a lizard; he
was weaving- and was saying, 'Kiryan, not kiryan, throw to the
right, throw to the left (of the shuttle).' And he said, 'You,
maiden, where are you going (that) you are running (so)?' She
said, 'Something is pursuing me.' He said, 'Wait here till it
-comes.' The maiden nestled close up to the lizard, (who) was
saying, 'Kiryan not kiryan, a cast to the right, a cast to the
left,' until the gawo-tree came up.
He was saying, 'In the morning it's, The gawo-tree with the
navel, in the evening it's, The gawo-tree with the navel; to-day
you see the gawo-tree with the navel.' And the maiden said, 'See,
there he is coming.' And the lizard said, 'Let him come, but
if he has come, (and) I save (lit. separate) you from him, are
you going to marry me?' She said, 'Yes.' Now the gawo-tree came
He said, 'Where is the thing I gave you to keep for me?' The
lizard said, 'What did you give me?' The gawo-tree replied, 'The
maiden who is behind you.' The lizard said, This (maid) is stronger
than you.' And the gawo-tree said, Lizard, you are forward.'
But the lizard replied, 'Ah! A man is like the little red peppers,
not till you have touched (tasted) them do you know how hot they
Then the gawo-tree got angry. He seized hold of the lizard.
He swallowed him, but he came out of the gawo-tree's eyes. Then
he caught him again (and) swallowed him, but he came out at his
ears. Then he caught him again and swallowed him, but he came
out of his breast. Then he caught him again and swallowed him,
but the lizard came out at his navel.
And the gawo-tree fell down and died. And the lizard said,
'Rise up, and I shall accompany you home.' So she rose up. They
went to their (her) home. He (the lizard) stood at the entrance
to the door of the house, but she entered into the house and
went about her affairs. They asked her, 'Where did you go to?'
She did not make any answer.
Then her father came out, (and) met a man sitting at the door
of the house. And he said, 'Greetings. Are you well?' He replied,
'I and the maiden have come, and so on, and so, and so, and so
(relating all that happened), we did with her.' And her father
said, 'Oh, she did not talk about (it).' And he entered the house,
(and) told the women. Then they said, 'How is it you came and
did not say anything about it?' And she said, 'May Allah save
me from marrying a lizard.'
Then her father went aside, (and) called Baura, (and) said,
'Will you not give me your daughter, to make a present of (to
the lizard)?' And she said, 'As for that, O learned one, do I
possess a daughter? No, you are a master of your own property.
Call her (and) speak with her.' Then the Doctor called the maiden,
and said, 'I wish to take you away and make a present of you.
I have told your mother, (and) she said I must call you (and)
tell you.' She replied, 'O learned father, no, it is not my mother
who possesses me, it is you, you possess me. Be it a dog or a
wild beast, take me and give to him. That is all I have to say.'
And her father said, 'May Allah bless you.' Then he came and
told the lizard, in reality he was a chief's son. Then he went
home (and) told his father, and his father said, 'Indeed!' And
he gave him ten slaves, ten female slaves, ten cattle, and everything
imaginable, ten of each, and took them to her (his future wife's)
father's. Then he gave her clothes, (and) they came and were
married, (and) he took away his bride.
Now their (the lizard's) father had a certain slave, by name
Albarka, a leper, and he went to their house, and said he was
in love with that one, whom they had given to the lizard (and
who) had refused him. But her mother said to her, 'What will
you do with a leper?' But her daughter said, 'I love him, he
is the son of a chief, (in disguise).' So they said she was to
be given to him. They were married (and all the ceremonies performed)
even up to taking her to her husband's home; it was in the fields.
And (the pair) did not see any one, till one day the lizard,
who had been given the daughter of Baura for a wife, said he
was going for a walk round the farms. He mounted his horse amid
clapping and sounds of joy. They came (and) he said, 'Is Albarka
at home?' Then he (Albarka) came out (and) saw him, then he ran
back in haste to the house (and) said, 'Bring out water for my
master's son.' But the wife said, 'Your master?' He replied,
'Yes.' 'You are infleed a slave?' He said, 'Yes.' Now she was
pounding, then she put down the pestle. She was with child. Then
she entered the bush.
That was the first person who went to the bush (became mad).
That is all.
Off with the rat's head.