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Home :  African Legends :  Tsakuramadu and his Grandmother

Tsakuramadu and his Grandmother

Bura Folktales Legend (Nigeria)

There was a boy named Tsakuramadu who lived with his grandmother. He watched the wild animals away from his grandmother's farm. One day many roan antelopes came into the farm. They said, "Tsakuramadu, your grandmother told us that we could eat of your corn." Tsakuramadu said, "If my grandmother said that you could eat, go and eat. I will not keep you from eating." The roan entered the farm and ate corn.

After a while his grandmother came to the farm and she saw what the roan had done to their corn. She said, "Tsakuramadu, my grandson, what ate our corn?" Tsakuramadu replied, "My grandmother, there is something wrong with you. You told the roan to come and eat corn, and now you ask me about it." "No, I did not tell the roan to come and eat corn," said the grandmother. "They are meat, and the next time they come, you make ropes and tie all of them. They are really very good meat." Tsakuramadu asked, "Are they really good meat?" "Yes, very sweet meat," said his grandmother.

Tsakuramadu cut strips of bark and began to make rope. After he had made much rope the roan returned. They said, "Tsakuramadu, your grandmother said that we could eat corn." He said, "Come here and let me tie you first." Then they came and he tied them. Then he told them that his grandmother had said that they were meat. The roan answered, "We are not meat. Wait, and we will cut off our ears for you to roast. Roast them with corn stubble and taste whether they are sweet." They cut off their ears for him and he roasted them with corn stubble. He found that they tasted bitter, and not sweet. Then he untied them and told them to go, for they were not really good meat.

After a while his grandmother came, and he said, "Grandmother, you fooled me. Roan are not good meat." His grandmother said, "Have you tasted them?" "Look here at the ears, which they cut off for me, but they are not sweet," said he. His grandmother took a roan ear and washed it with salt. Then he tasted it again, and learned of its sweetness.

Soon the roan returned and Tsakuramadu arose and tied them. Then he cut 0 of their throats and skinned all of them. He cut up the meat and carried it home. The meat filled a granary.

After a while, the worms began to grow in the meat. One day a young leopard came and said, "Tsakuramadu, your grandmother said that I should come and pick the worms out of the meat for you." He said, "All right, go in and pick them out." The young leopard went in and ate meat. When he had enough, he came out and went home. Every day he would come and eat. Before many days, the meat was about finished. His grandmother said, "Tsakuramadu, what is happening to the meat? It is about finished." Tsakuramadu replied, "I tell you, grandmother, you are not straight. You tell the young leopard to come and pick the worms out of the meat for us, and then you come and ask me." His grandmother said, "No, I did not tell him to come, but men make loin cloths out of young leopard skins."

The young leopard came again and said, "Your grandmother said that I should come and pick the worms out of your meat." "No, I do not want you to pick them out," said Tsakuramadu. "My grandmother said that you would make a good loin cloth." The young leopard said, "No, I am not a good loin cloth. Try to tie me on." He picked up the young leopard and tried to tie him on. The young leopard sunk his claws into the boy's back until Tsakuramadu said, "Get down, you are no good as a loin cloth."

Soon the grandmother came to the farm. Tsakuramadu said, "Grandmother, you fooled me. A young leopard is no good as a loin cloth." "You must skin off the skin before you tie it on as a loin cloth," replied the grandmother. The next day the young leopard came again. Tsakuramadu killed him and skinned him and softened the skin.

The mother leopard came, and said to Tsakuramadu, "Did you see my son?" "No," said Tsakuramadu, "I did not see him." Then one day Tsakuramadu tied on the leopard skin and went to a frolic in an open spot. The mother leopard saw the skin of her son on the loins of Tsakuramadu, and she said, "You, you killed my son, did you not?" Tsakuramadu said, "My grandmother told me to kill him." The leopard went and asked the grandmother, "Do you want me to kill you, or shall I catch Tsakuramadu?" The woman said to the leopard, "Go and hide in our pepper patch. When he comes I will send him to pick peppers for us. Then you can catch him there easily."

When Tsakuramadu came home, he asked his charm what had been said about him after he left. The charm said, "A leopard is hiding in the pepper patch, and if you go there, he will catch you." Tsakuramadu went, but he stopped a little distance from the pepper patch, and called, saying, "Pepper, if you are my grandmother's pepper, you will answer me." The leopard heard him and answered. Tsakuramadu said, "You dumb thing, do peppers talk?" and he ran home.

The leopard came and asked the woman, "What other way is there in which I can catch your grandson?" She said, "Listen, people are going to the market. You come and I will put you in a bag and tie the mouth of the bag shut. When my grandson comes, I will tell him that a gown is in the bag, and that he is to sell it for us. When he has taken you a good distance, you can come out of the bag and catch him." The leopard crawled into the bag, and she tied it shut. After a while, Tsakuramadu came and asked his charm what had been said after he left. The charm told him everything. When the night was finished, they arose and got ready to go to the market. When they had started, Tsakuramadu kept about the middle of the crowd. There were a number of people ahead of him, and a number of people behind him. They had gone a good distance when they came to a large flat stone. They all stopped on this stone to rest a little. Tsakuramadu said, "My gown did not get pressed very well. Let us get clubs, if you will, and beat it some more." All of them got clubs and beat the bag. There was a leopard in the bag.

They entered a village and sold all of their things for cattle. Tsakuramadu took his bag to a rich man. The rich man asked him how many cattle he would take for his gown. He replied, "One calf is the price." The man gave him a calf. All of them started home. On the way home they slept in the bush. When they were all asleep, Tsakuramadu got up and killed his calf and skinned it and divided the meat among the bags of all the men on the journey. He put the smell of meat on every man's knife and put blood on every man's hand. He then," went and bathed and came and lay down.

In the morning, every man was up looking after his own cattle. Tsakuramadu said, "I cannot find my cow. What has happened to her?" He looked into the bags of the men and he saw meat in them. He said, "You! Have you killed my cow? The men said "No, we did not kill her." "Look at your knives and your hands," said he. The men did not know what to say, because there was blood on their hands and the smell of meat on their knives. Tsakuramadu said, "Pay me back my cow right now," and each of them gave him a cow. He received a lot of cattle. They went on home and he put his cattle in a ring. He continued to live with his grandmother and their cattle increased rapidly.

One day his grandmother was walking on the farm, and she said, "Tsakuramadu, before I come back, cook food for me." "All right," he said, and he took one bean and one grain of corn and one peanut and cooked them. When his grandmother came, he took the food to her. She said, "What! Tsakuramadu, my son, did you not cook plenty for us? Is this enough food for us?" The next day, when his grandmother went to the farm, he threshed a lot of corn and put a large jar on the fire and cooked food. Then he took the large jar and hid it. He took out a little food and took it to his grandmother. His grandmother said, "That's all right. Today, you have done right." "But," he said, "this is not all." And he went and brought a gourd full. His grandmother remarked, "You almost have too much." "There is still more," he said, and he pulled down the mat, which had been hiding the big jar. "Tsakuramadu, my son, why did you cook so much like that?" said his grandmother. "Or did you cook it for the chief's people?"

When Tsakuramadu heard his grandmother ask whether he had cooked it for the chief's people, he went straight along to the chief's house. He said to the chief, "My grandmother is calling you." The chief and all his men arose and started for the widow's house. When the woman saw that the chief was coming to her house she was excited. After they had saluted, the chief said to the widow, "You sent for us to come." She said, "Chief of the world, what has brought us together that I should call you?" "Give me that for which you called me," said the chief. The woman replied, "My grandson cooked entirely too much food. Then I asked him whether he was cooking for the chief and his people. And he called you." The chief said, "See me off, for I want to go." The widow took all her cattle and gave them to the chief and his people. The chief said, "It is not enough, you must give us something more." The woman said, "What else do I have?" And she took Tsakuramadu and gave him to them. And they went away with him.


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