Hausa Folklore by Maalam Shaihu and translated By R. Sutherland Rattray

HOW THE WHIP AND THE 'MAARA ' SPOON (A BROKEN BIT OF CALABASH) CAME TO THE HAUNTS OF MEN

This story is (called) 'Whack me'.

A certain man had two wives; one bore two children and the other had not any children, except the child of another who lived with her. Now he (the husband) did not like the one who had borne, but the one who had not borne. Now it came about that a day of famine came on them. Then he (the husband) went to the bush (and) found food, and refused the one with children and gave to the one without children, (and) they two ate; and it was so always. And one day he went to the bush and found guinea-fowl's eggs, twenty in number. Then he called her (the one he did not love) and told her to choose the largest of them. So she took one, she went and boiled it, and gave it to the children to eat. And on that day she too went to the bush, she found corn, and stirred (it into) gruel. And she called him (her husband) and said, 'Look among your nails and dip (into the pot) one, the largest one of all, then lick (it), rise up, and leave the rest to the children.' Then he began to examine his nails, he turned them about, saying, 'What one must I dip in?' (and) he kept saying, 'Is it this one or that one?' But all the time his one hand was between his legs loosening his skin waist covering. Then he swiftly unfastened it, and plunged it into the pap, (in the pot) (when) the woman's eyes were looking the other way; she did not see. Then he stood up and said, 'I have put one in.' And she said, 'You will get put to shame over this,' and she refrained from saying any more. Another day she went to the bush, and saw a spoon and she passed on. But the spoon said, 'How is it you would pass on and not salute me?' So she said, 'Greetings to you.' And the spoon said, 'Greetings.'

Then the woman would have let it go at that, and passed on, but the spoon said, 'Will not you ask my name?' So the woman said, 'What is your name?' And the spoon answered, 'My name is Help me.' And the woman did not speak again, and was about to pass on, but the spoon said, 'Will not you ask me my name?' So the woman said, 'What is your name?' And the spoon said, 'My name is Help me'; and the spoon said, 'You too say, Help me that I may taste.' So she also said, 'Help me that I may taste.' Thereupon the spoon said, 'Bring your calabash.'

She brought her calabash. Then the spoon kept filling it with food, he poured it out for her till her calabash- was full. She went home, took it out, and gave her husband, and the remainder she and her children ate. Next day her husband came and said, 'For the sake of Allah where did you get that food?' Then she said, 'I got money, I saw grain, I bought it, I pounded it, and made food.' And he said, 'That is all right,' and stood up, and went out, and left her. She also got up, lifted her calabash (and) went out, and went off to the bush where the spoon was. She came to where he was and said to him, 'What is your name?' And the spoon said, 'My name is Help me.' She said, 'Help me that I may taste.' Thereupon the spoon commenced to pour out food for her until her calabash was full.
She lifted it and went oft home, took (the food) out and gave him. He ate, with his one wife. They were filled. And this happened again and again, till one day he said, 'For the sake of Allah will you not take me to where you are finding this food?' Then she said to him, 'When the dawn of Allah appears, come.'

So when it was dawn, he came, and they went to the place where the spoon was.

She said, 'Salute her,' so he saluted the spoon. Then his wife said, 'Ask her, can't you (her name)? say, What is your name?' So he said, 'What is your name?' And the spoon said, 'My name is Help me.' And the wife said to him, 'Say, Help me that I may taste.' And he said, 'Help me that I may taste.'

Thereupon the spoon commenced to pour out food for them until their calabash was full; then they lifted it and took it home. They ate. When night came then the husband returned. He lifted up the spoon and came back to the house, and put the spoon inside the grain store. When he felt hungry then he told his wife to go into the grain store and see what was inside. When she entered the store she met the spoon. She said, 'What is your name?' Then he said, 'My name is Help me.'

And she said, 'Help me that I may taste.'

And the spoon filled her calabash with food. And they did not give that wife who had told him all about it. She also did not find any food. It was always so, until one day his wife, the one the man loved, when the husband was not at home, he had gone to the bush, took the spoon. She came to the stream and was washing it, when the chief's wife came and greeted her and said, 'What are you doing?' She said, 'Look at that.' Then they said nothing more. Then she said, 'Are you not going to salute her?' And they said, 'Greetings, greetings.'

It answered the salute. Then this wife said, 'Ask, What is your name?' It answered, 'My name is Help me.' Then they said, 'What sort of a thing now do they call Help me?' Then this woman said, 'You say, Help me that I may taste.' And they said, 'Help me that I may taste.' Thereupon the spoon kept pouring out food for them. Some have (had) drawn water, but they poured it out, and brought (their calabashes), and the spoon poured in food for them, and they lifted it and took it home. And the chief asked, 'Where did you get this thing?' And they said, 'We went to the stream and we met there the wife of So-and-so, and she said, Don't you see I am washing a spoon? We said, We have seen, and she said, Will you not salute it? We said, Greetings, lady friend. And it said, Greetings to you.

Next we were silent, we were gazing, when that woman said, Will you not ask its name? So we then said, What is your name? and it said, My name is Help me. Then we were silent (again), we were watching, when that woman said, Bring your calabashes and say, Help me that I may taste. And we too said, Help me that I may taste. And it kept pouring out food for us and filled up our calabashes with food.'

Then the chief said, 'Go and bring it that I may see.' So they went off, the court officials and the chief's body-guard, and they went and met this person, and they said, 'The chief says, give us Help me, that we may bring it for him to see.' So he took it himself and gave them; he was black of heart. They received (it) (from him), they brought (it) to the chief and said, 'Behold it.' The chief said, 'Hail, lady friend,' and it answered. And he said, 'Bring large wooden dishes' and large wooden dishes were brought. Then he (the chief) said, 'What is your name?' and it said, 'My name is Help me.' And the chief said, 'Help me,' and it kept pouring out food and filled the wooden plates for him.

And the chief said, 'This is too good a thing to be in a poor man's house.' So the chief ordered it to be brought to his house. It was brought to his house and it supplied the chief's house with food, but as for him who had the spoon (formerly) he was dying of hunger.

Then one day his wife, the one who had shown him the spoon, when he had taken it and left her, went to the bush to look for food. And she saw a branch of a tree, some say a whip; she saw it in the forest (bush). She said, 'Greetings,' and it said, 'Greetings to you.' And the wife said, 'What is your name?' and the whip said, 'My name is Whack me.' And the woman said, 'Whack me that I may feel.' Thereupon the whip kept flogging her, whack! Whack! She was running away, she was yelling, she was saying, 'Alas, I am repentant, I shall follow you, I won't do it again.' But the whip flogged her until people came and rescued her.

She went home and called her husband, and took him to where the whip was, and said, 'Have you seen, I have found another thing again for giving food.' Then she stood afar off, she said, 'There it is over there.' Then the husband went off in haste, tramp! tramp! until he met the whip; it was lying down. He said, 'Hail, friend,'and the whip said, 'Hail to you.'

He was all the time thinking it was something good. Then he said, 'What is your name?' and the whip said, 'My name is Whack me that I may feel.' Then this man said, 'Whack me that I may feel.' Thereupon the whip kept beating him until it was tired. And the whip went back and lay quite still, and the man too went home and lay down. And the wife he loved came along and said, 'What has happened?'

And he did not answer. He lay quiet until he got better.

Then he went and came to where the whip was lying. Then he kept crouched down, he crouched down until he got near it, then he jumped and held it down, and took it home, and put it away in the grain store. Then he sat quietly until his favourite wife came. And she said, 'To-day I am feeling hungry.' Then he said, 'Go into the grain store and see what is inside.' Then she rose up in great haste, she said, 'What did you find to-day?' And he said, 'You yourself enter.' Then she said, 'Must I take a calabash',' He said, 'Yes.' She took a calabash and went into the grain store. He closed it. He said, 'What do you see?' And she said, 'Something I have seen which is long.' And he said, 'Greet it, cannot you?'

She said, 'I greet you (who are) resting,' (and) she said, 'What is your name?' It said, 'My name is Whack me,' and she said , 'Whack me that I may feel.' Thereupon the whip set about beating her, she was shouting. Her husband, when he heard, ran off to the forest, and his wife, the one he did not love, also ran out to the forest, through fear; and she also, the one who had entered the grain store, with difficulty she found a way of escape and ran off; and they left the house deserted. Long ago the spoon and the whip lived in the wilds, and this was the first time they made their appearance in the home.

Off with the rat's head.




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