Oral literature: the buffalos’ friend

Once upon a time, a boy was called buffalos’ friend because he was getting close to buffalos without any fear. One day he met a cattle keeper whose calves got lost in the bush and joined a group of buffalos. The cattle keeper asked him to recover the calves and promised cow fetlocks as a reward. The boy went and recovered the calves.

The cattle keeper gave him the promised cow fetlocks. The boy gave the fetlocks to a woman so that she would cook them. But the woman ate the fetlocks. When he came to her, she told him that she had eaten the fetlocks. He cried: “My fetlocks, my fetlocks, my fetlocks that I received from the cattle keeper that sent me to fetch his calves among the buffalos”.

The woman gave him some cooking oil. He gave the cooking oil to a cook so that she would cook some food. But the cook used the oil for her food. When he came, he found that his oil was gone. He cried: “My oil, my oil, my oil that I received from the woman who ate my fetlock that I received from the cattle keeper that sent me to fetch his calves among the buffalos”.

The cook gave him some beans. He gave the beans to a francolin bird so that he would cook them. But the francolin ate the beans. When he came, he found that his beans had been eaten. He cried: “My beans, my beans, my beans that I received from the cook who used my oil that I received from the woman who ate my fetlock that I received from the cattle keeper that sent me to fetch his calves among the buffalos.”

The francolin gave him an egg. He went to hide the egg along the path of the giraffe. The giraffe stepped on his egg and crashed it. When he came, he found that the egg had been crushed by the giraffe. He cried: “My egg, my egg, my egg that I received from the francolin that ate my beans that I received from the cook who used my oil that I received from the woman who ate my fetlock that I received from the cattle keeper that sent me to fetch his calves among the buffalos”.

The giraffe gave him the hair of his tail to make an ornament out of it. He gave the giraffe’s hair to the blacksmith so that he would fashion the ornament. But the blacksmith put the giraffe’s hair on the fire and burnt it. When he came, he found that the giraffe’s hair had been burnt by the blacksmith. He cried: “My ornament, my ornament, my ornament that I received from the giraffe that crushed my egg that I received from the francolin that ate my beans that I received from the cook who used my oil that I received from the woman who ate my fetlock that I received from the cattle keeper that sent me to fetch his calves among the buffalos”.

The blacksmith gave him a pick-axe. He gave the pick-axe to the woodpecker. But the woodpecker broke the pick-axe. When he came, he found that the pick-axe had been broken by the woodpecker. He cried: “My axe, my axe, my axe that I received from the blacksmith who burnt my ornament that I received from the giraffe that crushed my egg that I received from the francolin that ate my beans that I received from the cook who used my oil that I received from the woman who ate my fetlock that I received from the cattle keeper that sent me to fetch his calves among the buffalos”.

The woodpecker gave him a fishing spear. He gave the fishing spear to the marabou stork. But the stork lost the fishing spear. When he came, he found his fishing spear was lost by the marabou stork. He cried: “My fishing spear, my fishing spear, my fishing spear that I received from the woodpecker that broke my axe that I received from the blacksmith who burnt my ornament that I received from the giraffe that crushed my egg that I received from the francolin that ate my beans that I received from the cook who used my oil that I received from the woman who ate my fetlock that I received from the cattle keeper that sent me to fetch his calves among the buffalos”.

The marabou stork gave him a small fish. This time the boy freed the small fish in a pool so that he could grow. He went in the bush and collected wild berries for his fish. He called the fish: “Nyirial, nyirial of the wild berries”.

(Folktale from Nuer People – South Sudan)