Cunnie Rabbit, Mr. Spider and the Other Beef: West African Folk Tales | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Goats of the Wood and of the Town

"SPIDER he bin pusson, long tem, he no bin 'tan' lek [1] to-day; he done turn odder kine of t'ing now. Dah tem he get big, big, big cassada (cassava) fa'm. He say: Make dem goat all come tell um 'How do.' Den he go root cassada, he root cassada; he pile um high, he jam de sky fo' high. He tell dem goat, he say: 'Who wan' go nah town, make he go nah town; who wan' go nah bush, make he go nah bush. Now he shabe (divided) de cassada. All dem wey say dey wan' go nah town, he gie um four, four stick cassada; [2] he say: 'Aintee me pusson? Yo' mus' lek pusson.'

               "Dey say: 'All ret.'

               "De one wey (who) wan' go nah bush, he gie dem two, two 'tick. Dat make sotay (till) now, dem bush-goat no lek pusson, dey say dey wan' be inside bush."

               A cow that had been grazing just behind the fence, came up now and looked over into the yard, at the same time switching her tail in a vigorous attempt to dislodge a large fly that had settled upon her back. Konah noticed this interesting performance, and glad of the opportunity to seek further explanations, aroused her mother from the reverie into which she had fallen, with the question:

               "Yo' see de cow wey 'tan' up yandah? Wey t'ing do he bin make heen tail so, knock um behine heen back?"

               The efforts of the cow now became almost frantic, much to the delight of the children. Mamenah explained:

               "W'en dey bin swim, long tem, he tie one big, big cassada to heen tail fo' cham (chew). Wen he wan' fo' cham um, he turn um, knock um 'pon heen back, so he kin turn cham um. So yo' kin see cow 'tan' up, knock heen tail behine back. Not to fly he duh dribe, dat cassada he bin 'member, long tem."

               After this last explanation, there was silence for some minutes, until the children, returning from the land of dreams to that of reality, became aware that they were exceedingly hungry. The rice had sometime since been removed from the fire and beneath its grass-woven cover had steamed until now the stew was ready to pour over it. Konah ran to the brook, and returned with a calabash of water, and the little company crouched upon the ground to enjoy what to them was a succulent repast. Balls of rice of considerable size were squeezed up, and by a deft motion of the hand were transferred to the mouth, until the appetites were thoroughly appeased. Finally even Konah cared for nought else but to throw herself listlessly back against a tree that stood near, and, lolling out her tongue, she fanned it with a shred from a banana leaf to quench the fire of the coveted cayenne. It was hot, nevertheless the torture was delicious. Sweet, very sweet is "peppy" to an African palate, and how much is enough is a problem dependent largely upon the supply.



[1] "He no bin 'tan' lek," i.e. Did not stand like, did not appear as he does.

[2] "He gie um four, four," i.e. He gave four to each.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Goats of the Wood and of the Town
Tale Author/Editor: Cronise, Florence M. & Ward, Henry W.
Book Title: Cunnie Rabbit, Mr. Spider and the Other Beef: West African Folk Tales
Book Author/Editor: Cronise, Florence M. & Ward, Henry W.
Publisher: E. P. Dutton & Co.
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1903
Country of Origin: Sierra Leone
Classification: unclassified

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