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

THE GAAWOO -TREE AND THE MAIDEN,  AND THE FIRST PERSON WHO EVER WENT MAD

There was a certain man, by name, Doctor Umaru, the husband of Ladi. He possessed two wives, one (called) Mowa, one (called) Baura. They both had children, girls. The one called Mowa, always, if she has swept, then she used to give (the sweepings) to her daughter, (and) she took them to where the gawo-tree was and threw (them) away.

Now the gawo-tree had some growth on it that looked like a person's navel, and if this maiden took the sweepings (there) she used to touch (it) and say, 'The gawo-tree with the navel.' And it was always so she used to do. One day she went, (and) threw out the sweepings, (and) then touched (the mark).

But the gawo-tree pulled himself out (of the ground) (and) followed her, (and) was saying, 'Of a morning it's, The gawo-tree with the navel; of an evening it's, The gawo-tree with the navel.' Then the maiden ran away, (and) the gawo-tree followed her. She came (and) met some people sowing, (and) they said, 'You, maiden, what is the matter?' She said, 'Something is following me.'

(And) they said, 'Sit down here till it comes. We will take the sowing implements, (and) beat him (and) kill (him).' They waited a little and then the gawo-tree came along. He was saying, 'In the morning it's, The gawo-tree with the navel; in the evening it's, The gawo-tree with the navel.' Thereupon the sowers said, 'Maiden, go further on.'

And the maiden ran on. She came and met some people hoeing, and they said, 'Maiden, what is the matter?' And she said, 'Something is following me.' (And) they said, 'Stand here, let him come. Can we not then lift our hoes, (and) hit him, (and) kill (him)?' They waited a little while, then the gawo-tree came towards them; he was saying, 'In the morning it's, The gawo-tree with the navel; in the evening it's, The gawo-tree with the navel; to-day you see the gawo-tree with the navel.' And they said, 'Maiden, pass on.'

So she passed on, and went and met some people ploughing. They were ploughing, and they said, 'You, maiden, what is the matter?' She replied, 'Something is following me.' And they said, 'Sit down here till he comes.' In a little while, then the gawo-tree came up; he was saying, 'In the morning it's, The gawo-tree with the navel; in the evening it's, The gawo-tree with the navel. To-day you see the gawo-tree with the navel.' Thereupon they said, 'Maiden, pass on.'

So the maiden ran on. Then she came (and) met a lizard; he was weaving- and was saying, 'Kiryan, not kiryan, throw to the right, throw to the left (of the shuttle).' And he said, 'You, maiden, where are you going (that) you are running (so)?' She said,

'Something is pursuing me.' He said, 'Wait here till it -comes.' The maiden nestled close up to the lizard, (who) was saying, 'Kiryan not kiryan, a cast to the right, a cast to the left,' until the gawo-tree came up.

He was saying, 'In the morning it's, The gawo-tree with the navel, in the evening it's, The gawo-tree with the navel; to-day you see the gawo-tree with the navel.' And the maiden said, 'See, there he is coming.' And the lizard said, 'Let him come, but if he has come, (and) I save (lit. separate) you from him, are you going to marry me?' She said, 'Yes.' Now the gawo-tree came up.

He said, 'Where is the thing I gave you to keep for me?' The lizard said, 'What did you give me?' The gawo-tree replied, 'The maiden who is behind you.' The lizard said, This (maid) is stronger than you.' And the gawo-tree said, Lizard, you are forward.' But the lizard replied, 'Ah! A man is like the little red peppers, not till you have touched (tasted) them do you know how hot they are.' Then the gawo-tree got angry. He seized hold of the lizard. He swallowed him, but he came out of the gawo-tree's eyes. Then he caught him again (and) swallowed him, but he came out at his ears. Then he caught him again and swallowed him, but he came out of his breast. Then he caught him again and swallowed him, but the lizard came out at his navel.

And the gawo-tree fell down and died. And the lizard said, 'Rise up, and I shall accompany you home.' So she rose up. They went to their (her) home. He (the lizard) stood at the entrance to the door of the house, but she entered into the house and went about her affairs. They asked her, 'Where did you go to?' She did not make any answer.

Then her father came out, (and) met a man sitting at the door of the house. And he said, 'Greetings. Are you well?' He replied, 'I and the maiden have come, and so on, and so, and so, and so (relating all that happened), we did with her.'

And her father said, 'Oh, she did not talk about (it).' And he entered the house, (and) told the women. Then they said, 'How is it you came and did not say anything about it?' And she said, 'May Allah save me from marrying a lizard.'

Then her father went aside, (and) called Baura, (and) said, 'Will you not give me your daughter, to make a present of (to the lizard)?' And she said, 'As for that, O learned one, do I possess a daughter? No, you are a master of your own property. Call her (and) speak with her.' Then the Doctor called the maiden, and said, 'I wish to take you away and make a present of you. I have told your mother, (and) she said I must call you (and) tell you.' She replied, 'O learned father, no, it is not my mother who possesses me, it is you, you possess me. Be it a dog or a wild beast, take me and give to him. That is all I have to say.' And her father said, 'May Allah bless you.' Then he came and told the lizard, in reality he was a chief's son. Then he went home (and) told his father, and his father said, 'Indeed!' And he gave him ten slaves, ten female slaves, ten cattle, and everything imaginable, ten of each, and took them to her (his future wife's) father's. Then he gave her clothes, (and) they came and were married, (and) he took away his bride.

Now their (the lizard's) father had a certain slave, by name Albarka, a leper, and he went to their house, and said he was in love with that one, whom they had given to the lizard (and who) had refused him. But her mother said to her, 'What will you do with a leper?' But her daughter said, 'I love him, he is the son of a chief, (in disguise).' So they said she was to be given to him. They were married (and all the ceremonies performed) even up to taking her to her husband's home; it was in the fields.

And (the pair) did not see any one, till one day the lizard, who had been given the daughter of Baura for a wife, said he was going for a walk round the farms. He mounted his horse amid clapping and sounds of joy. They came (and) he said, 'Is Albarka at home?' Then he (Albarka) came out (and) saw him, then he ran back in haste to the house (and) said, 'Bring out water for my master's son.' But the wife said, 'Your master?' He replied, 'Yes.' 'You are infleed a slave?' He said,

'Yes.' Now she was pounding, then she put down the pestle. She was with child. Then she entered the bush.

That was the first person who went to the bush (became mad).

That is all.

Off with the rat's head.




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