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.

Old Man Turns Elephant, An

"SOME people deh far up, up Mende country. Dey bin ole too much, dey sick, en all de odder people done tire fo' mine um; dey say dey trouble too much. Now because dis yeah ole pusson no able any mo' fo' do not'ing, dem cumpin (companions) bin kare um nah (into) bush; dey bin brush one place, dey bin buil' one leelee ho'se 'pon top um. But not too good ho'se dey bin buil', dey jus' buil' bamboo roof fo' cover dis yeah ole pusson. Dey bin take four mottah, [1] dey put de ole pusson heen one han' inside one mottah, de odder han' inside odder mottah; one foot dey put inside de mottah wey make t'ree, en de odder foot inside de las' mottah. De mottah-pencil (pestle) dey bin put to heen mout' fo' turn elephan' long, long mout'. Dey take two fannah, dey tie um 'pon he yase (ears). Well, so dey bin lef um; dey go 'way, aftah dey done buil' de ho'se.

               "Sometem ef pusson go agin fo' look, dey nebber see um. Well, he done turn elephan'. De foot nar de mottah."

               "Nar (is) dat fo' true, true?" asked Konah eagerly, for the transformation appealed strongly to her imagination.

               "Dem people say nar true," answered Dogbah, hedging. "Me daddy cousin sister-in-law husban' done see um."

               "Man kin turn elephan'," asserted Mammy Yamah decisively. "One tem two girl go nah bush fo' broke wood. Dey hearee monkey wey duh sing one song. One girl hese'f sing de song, he turn elephan'. De odder girl scare, he (she) run go home; he tell dem people all. Dem people beg um sotay (till) he sing de song; he turn elephan'."

               Sobah listened to Mammy Yamah's excited testimony, and then with an air of condescension said: "I tell yo' one story."



[1] The mortar and pestle are used in all homes for beating rice. The fanners are flat woven trays, on which the rice, after it is pounded, is shaken to remove the chaff.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Old Man Turns Elephant, An
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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