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Home :  African Legends :  Cagn and the Baboons

Cagn and the Baboons

Long ago, baboons were little men like the Bushmen, but mischievous and quarrelsome. One day they met Cagn's son, Cogaz, who had been sent by his father into the bush to collect sticks to make bows. 'Oh ho!' they jeered, dancing around the boy, 'Your father thinks he is so clever, making bows to kill us. We will kill you instead.' So they killed poor Cogaz and tied him up in the top of a tree, and danced around it singing in their own tongue, 'Cagn thinks he is clever!'

Soon Cagn, who was asleep, awoke and sensed that there was something wrong. He called to his wife Coti to bring him his charms. He rubbed some magic on his nose and thought and thought. Then up he jumped. 'The little men have hanged Cogaz,' he said and off he went to where they were dancing. When they saw him coming they were frightened and changed their chant, but a little girl said, 'Don't sing that way, sing it the way you were singing before.' And Cagn ordered, 'Sing as the little girl wishes,' and they were obliged to sing and dance as before. So Cagn said, 'Yes! That is the song I heard, that is what I wanted; go on dancing until I return.' He went and fetched a basket full of pegs and went behind each of them as they danced, making great deal of dust, and drove a peg into each one’s backside with a crack. They all bounded off to the mountains, barking and leaping with their baboon tails sticking up behind, to live on roots, beetles and scorpions and to scratch fleas and chatter nonsense forever. Then Cagn climbed up into the tree and took down Cagaz and by magic restored him to life.

It is a fact that to this day Bushmen seem to be the only people that not only understand the language of the baboons but to a limited extent can even converse with them.


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