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Hausa Folk-Lore, by Maalam Shaihua, tr. by R. Sutherland Rattray, [1913], at



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 not return.'

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 to-morrow.'

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 the bed.

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 kept still.

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.

Next: 2. How brothers and sisters first came to quarrel and hate each other