This story was told to me by my grandmother, in Gambia, when I was little. It is an African folk tale that continues to endure in our memory. On this occasion, we share the second part of this African story (II).
This story can be found in a book by Amadou Hampaté Bah that collected some stories in Tales of the Wise Men of Africa (Paidós, 2010).
An African story is a piece of African history. The oral tradition has had and still has a lot of relevance to transmit the story generation after generation.
African story (II)
The king who wanted to kill all the old
or nobody can see the crown.
We continue with the story of King M’Bonki, who wanted to kill all the old people, and how young people also saw their lives in danger …
On the morning of the third dawn, the young people were in the palace square, with their heads bowed and their red eyes from thinking so much day and night about what awaited them.
The king appeared.
– Well, have you twisted my lock?
No one dared open his mouth. There was heavy silence.
–“I give you ten blinks to answer,” the king thundered. Otherwise, the executioner will begin to do his work and his hand will stop only when none is left.
Steeling herself with courage, Taasi stepped forward and said:
-“Oh, King, unrivaled gentleman whose golden sorrel drinks only from the milk of the white cows of the Sahel, all of us, your subjects, are helpful to death. Have not we killed our parents at one word of yours?
… If we have not yet woven your work, it is not because we do not want to do it, because for nothing in the world we would like to dislike you. But in our eagerness to satisfy you and do a perfect job, we would like you to show us your old sand bar so that it can serve as a model for us.
We will study the plot and we will weave for you a new work so beautiful that it will be admired by all.
A sigh of relief went through the assembly of the young ..
The king was silent for a moment. Then he got up abruptly, made a sign with his hand and said, grumbling:
-Okay, you can go! And come back tomorrow morning!
The next day, the king told them:
-You were very insolent yesterday . Not only did you not do what i ordered , but with your request, you have taken away any possibility of accusing me. But do not believe that you have been spared! I ordered you to build a floating Palace between the earth and the sky. Go complete my order and come back in one week time. Yours heads are at staked!
More dejected than ever, the young people dispersed.
As usual, at dusk Taasi went to meet his father in secret.
-“Father,” he said. “This morning the king has asked us to build a palace suspended between the earth and the sky. This time we are lost!”
-“No!” The old man assured him.
And he deposited in his ear what he had to answer to the king.
The next day, Taasi told his classmates that he had had a new idea during the night and explained it to him.
To prevent the King from unleashing his wrath solely on Taasi, they agreed that on the day they were to appear before him, the eldest would speak on behalf of all.
When the morning of the seventh day arrived, all the young people gathered in the square. The king left his palace flanked by two servants provided with long fans to scare the flies and give him air. Convinced that this time his young subjects would not have the last word, he sat down, with a satisfied air, on the royal platform.
–“Well,” he said. “Have you thought about what I asked you? Are you ready?”
The oldest of the youths approached.
-“Yes, king, we are ready.” he answered. “We have gathered all the necessary materials and are ready to start working immediately. But to be sure that the floating palace corresponds exactly with your desires, that it is neither too big nor too small, neither too high nor too low, we ask you to trace for us between the earth and the sky the plane of its foundations.”
Furious, the king dismissed them and returned to his palace.
A few days later, he announce
“To punish you I order you to meet tomorrow in the public executions square, just when the sun is suspended over the heads of men, the top of the trees and the back of the animals. I will be accompanied by the executioner. If I find you in the sun, I’ll tell the executioner to cut off your head. And if I find you in the shade, I will do the same. Go away! See you tomorrow!
That same night, Taasi, desperate, explained to his father the new demand of the king.
“Don’t worry,” his father replied. “This is what you have to do…”
… Bakan buka jaka fon tabi aljana…
In the next post, the third and final part of The King who wanted to kill all the old (or nobody can see the crown)