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Home :  African Legends :  The Bad Man

The Bad Man

Bura Folktales Legend (Nigeria)

The wicked son left his father and went to live with the blacksmith. Every time there would be a small piece of iron, this boy would steal it and hide it. He gathered together a donkey load of iron in this way. Then he took this iron to another blacksmith and asked to have a sword made. The blacksmith asked, "How many swords?" "One sword," was the reply. The blacksmith said, "I cannot make your iron into one sword."

The iron was taken to another blacksmith. When the second blacksmith was asked to make one sword, he said that he could not do it. The young man went everywhere, but he was unable to find a blacksmith that could make such a big sword. When he was just ready to give up, he found a blacksmith who said that he could make all of the iron into one great sword. For five years he worked at this sword. When he had finished it, the young man told him to beat down the edges so that it would be very sharp. When the blacksmith had sharpened it, the young man tried it, but it would not cut. The blacksmith worked on it three more years, and finally got it so that it was sharp. The young man said, "That is fine, I thank you."

The young man wanted to go home because his sword was finished. He asked the blacksmith what he charged for making the sword, but the blacksmith did not want anything. The blacksmith said, "You have lived with me eight years, and that pays everything. I will go down the road a way with you." They went down the road together for quite a distance. The young man said, "Maybe you will make a big sword like this for somebody else. I do not want you to do that. I do not want any one else to have a sword like this. Maybe I had better kill you here, and then I will be sure." He cut off the head of the man who had made the sword for him.

As he went down the road, whenever he would see a short man with tall men, he would cut off the short man's head and say, "Why are you along with these tall men?" When he would see a tall man with short men he would cut off the tall man's head and say, "Why are you along with short men?" He kept this up until he had killed a great many. One day his brother said, "You do not want to do the right thing. I am going to run away.

The brother went to a chief's house in a distant village. After a time he married the chief's daughter and they lived happily together. The chief was a good man. But one day the bad brother who bad killed so many people came in. The brother who had run away from him said, "Where did you come from? I left you because of the way you were doing. You stop that badness of yours, and you can live with me." He said, "I will not do anything bad again if I can live here with you." The brother said, "Well, you watch yourself." A wife was secured for him, but he did not want a wife.

Every year in that village a large bird came and demanded for its food ninety human bodies. In the course of time the bird came. Men heard the bird calling once again for ninety human bodies. The wicked young man asked his brother what was all about. "What does this bird want?" He told him the bird wanted the chief to get together ninety human bodies. The bad man said, "Why?" Do you want to them to him, or does he force you?" "He forces us," they answered." "Who would want to give human bodies to him?"

The bad man suggested that someone should kill the largely bird that demanded for its food ninety human bodies. The men answered, "Who would kill him?" The bad man said, "I will kill him." "No," they said, "you cannot kill him, he is too big." But the chief said, "If you kill him you will be a very great man." The bad man went and cut off the great bird's head. The bird flapped until its wings covered a part of the wall of the village. All of the village feasted on its meat. But this was not the last act of the bad man.

He lived with his brother. One day the village gathered to throw dice. The bad man, however, went to the house of his brother's wife. He said, "Never since I came to the village have you come to talk with me. Why?" The woman said , "My husband does not want me to go places." The bad man said, "To go out with other men is not right, but to go out with your husband's own brother is all right. You dare not refuse to go out with me." The woman said, "You are right. I have not been fair to you. I will come out and we will talk." As soon as she came out he cut her head off and put it in his pocket.

Then the bad man saddled two horses, one for himself and' one for his brother. He went out to where his brother and the other men were throwing dice, and said, "Do you fellows, always throw this kind of dice? We never throw your kind of dice. Let me show you what we use." He pulled out the head of his brother's wife and threw it down with the dice. The men all said, "Catch him." He ran into the house with his brother, and said, "Brother, I am going to run. If you want to run, here is a horse already saddled." They escaped on two horses. The men of the village followed them, but when the bad man turned his face toward them they dropped dead. God caught the bad man and tied him up in chains and fastened him in the middle of the deep, black water, and he is, still there.


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