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Home :  African Legends :  To the Blacksmith Shop

To the Blacksmith Shop

Bura Folktales Legend (Nigeria)

One day, a ram and a dog and a goat and a chicken decided to go to the hyena to have some blacksmithing done. The dog said, "I want a sickle." The goat said, "I want a knife." The chicken said, "I want an arrow." The ram said, "I want a pair of tweezers."

The four started off for the blacksmith shop. They found the hyena at work. He welcomed them and they saluted him. They said, "We have come to get some things made." The hyena said, "Who among you knows how to work the bellows for me? Will the chicken try it?" The chicken began to work the bellows and sing. He sang, "We are lost, we are lost." When the hyena heard what the chicken sang, he was very happy because he thought that meat had come in easy today. The chicken was shaking with fear, and they said, "Let the goat work the bellows." The goat tried, but he also was weak because of fear. The dog tried, but fear had eaten up his strength.

The ram went to the bellows without fear. He began to work the bellows and sing. He sang, "I have killed ten hyenas in Kanuri country, and today I will kill the eleventh." When the hyena heard this, his insides hurt him, and he wanted to run. He said, "I will go into the house and get my snuff-box." The ram said, Do not go away, you stay right here and finish our work for us." The hyena said, "I will be right back." But when he went he hid in his wife's granary.

After a while the ram went to the house and asked, "Where is the hyena?" They answered, "We do not know where he is." The ram asked, "What is in this granary?" The hyena answered, "I am in here trying to find my snuff-box." The ram said, "Come out of there and come and finish my work for me." The hyena went with the ram and made a good pair of tweezers for him. When the hyena had finished all of their work, they saw that a big rain was coming up and that the sky was black. The goat and the dog and the chicken started home at once, even though the rain was near.

The ram did not go home. When the rain came, he crawled under the pumpkin leaves and lay down. When the rain was over, the hyena sent his son to get a pumpkin to boil. The young hyena went, and when he got under the pumpkin leaves, he saw the ram lying there. He thought that he was dead. He ran to his father and said, "One of the men who came to have work done here is lying out there under the pumpkin leaves, dead." The hyena ran out to look, and then be ran back to call his wife and children. He said, "Let us make merry. We are going to eat meat today. Let us play." He said to his wife, "Strain that beer and let me drink it before I go and skin the meat for us."

When the wife of the hyena brought the beer, the ram received it and drank it. While he was drinking, the hyena family disappeared. They stayed away until the ram went home. Then they came back.

The hyena asked his children why they ran. They said, "We saw you running and we heard crying, and so we thought that we had better run, too The hyena said, "I did not run. I was just going out to see about something, and you heard me whistling and singing."


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