Today is international women’s day. In order to honour all the hard-working women in Africa, I present a fairy tale about three women, again in the Daffo dialect of Ron. It was told by our friend, Mrs. Utawal Magwa (seen here on a picture) , in 1991. I recorded it and later transcribed it with the help of Mr. Mafulul Lek.
In the tale, three women, who are co-wives — Ushuwar, Uryau, Usuru’ — go to visit a man, who is referred to as Da ma we (old father). They take along gifts for him: Ushuwar prepares a very tasty kunu (Ron-Daffo: rigit – a slightly fermented drink made of water and flour) out of acca (digitaria sp.) flour. The other two prepare a very bad one with a wild variety of finger millet (eleusine corocana). Also, Ushuwar puts on her best dress, while the other two put on old dresses.
When they return home from Da ma we‘ s house, Ushuwar gets dwarf-cow meat prepared with tasty oil as a reward, while the other two women get dog’s meat prepared with very bad oil. They are very angry about that.
On their way home, they come to a big river. Uryau and Usuru’ manage to get across the river together with their belongings, but Ushuwar falls into the river and disappears. Back home, the two other women tell their family about Ushuwar’s misfortune.
The following day, the husband sends one of his sons to cut a tree near the river … But I shouldn’t tell the whole story. Read it and listen to it yourself. And tell me how you like it!
Waatan ti Ushuwar
Ref ɓiil ndee si fut hai nzis la. Ɗafal yuhun si nii, mi fuk, si yu, si shuris Da ma we. Sumam mmis ma refi: Ushuwar, Uryau, Usuru’. Nai si nii, mi fuk, si shuris Da ma we.
Si ji rigitash; tuni Ushuwar ti ji nzit rigit ti fo’ ti sare ti lwyan. Uryau ti ji nzit ti mandum ma cire. Usuru’ ti ji nzit andai. Ti munet yo ti rokani.
Si har yish kong mawan a wur ta Da ma we kong. Si shu ɗaam ma sare a yishash. Ushuwar ti kir fukut ma sare ma bong, ti dashai bong, ti dashai bong a fo, ti dashai taa nggong. Si rang mawan kong, si nii, kyai si har mmis fukutai ma we ma fwash, si lang mawan.
Si har ɗaam a hai kong, si rang mawan a wur ta Da ma we. Si ndok a mater, si ɗusis fe ɓiil mma mi gyokai tamwash. Si niyis: “Wur ti Da a we mu al?” Si nii: “Hu yu a waan ɗak fe ma gyokai rundongi!” Sin mawan, Ushuwar ti tong a fo, bong mmit ta nyai ruwit, bong mmit ta nyai ruwit, bong mmit ta nyai ruwit, mawan.
Sin mawan, si yu, si ndok ɗak fe ma gyokai rundong, si niyis: “Wur ti Da ma we mu al?” Si nii: “Hu yu ɗak fe ma gyokai aa kyai! Hwaa wan, ngga si laku ti wuri.”
Si yu, si ndok fe ma gyokai aa, si niyis: “Hu yu, hu ɗu ɗak fai ma mgbang sai, wur ti Da a we ndai!”
Si yu kong, si ndok wur ti Da a we, fe ma Da a we si shitai, si pak la, si ɗor a fai, si masai, si jakai sis, si nii: “Ushuwar! Ushuwar! Ushuwar!” Si matai sis ca tindai, si rang ti a ɗikil. Si ho’ai rigit ti Ushuwar, ti lwe yo rigit ti fo’. Si nii, mi ho’ai rigit ti Uryau, ti munet yo rigit tima ti ji ti mandum ma cire. Si nii: “Uu, tuni ti ɗaak fat ti ji ti sakur ma cira!” Si nii, mi ho’ai ti Usuru’, ti munet andai. Si har, si shu a sam ma tang. Si tek Ushuwar, si kir a sam mma a mun ma sare.
Da a we ta ɗu a fai, ta ngga rundongash, ta ngga kwat taa ram. Ta yes ti, ta niyet Ushuwar: “Shi shitai tima ti mun tima ko mmish a fuk!” Ushuwar ti sakat tima ti mun ti mgbang, ti nii: “Tuni ti, aa wen a kayi!” Ta kai kwati, ta yu, ta lefet Ushuwar. Ta nii, ku Uryau, ku Usuru’, ta lal cire, ta nii: “Ce, ce, ce”, ta rwai cire, si yes taa ram hiyang, ta nii: “Hu lak ti tima i kayuhai!” Tuni ti nii: “A kayenai sani!”, tuni ti nii: “A kayenai sani!” Ɗaak nzis ca ti mun ti fwash. Si kaa’ai, si lyaafis. Si jiis lohi, si har hala’ash, ta har gang ma lo mma a mun ma kukwa, ta shwis a hala’ash, ta nii, ɓa si yu ti a wur. Ta har gangash ma lo ma cire, a shwis kyai; ta tek gang ma lo ma kwat, ta kiret Ushuwar.
Si haris a hai, si rang mayesis a wur. Si yes kong, camsat mmit kyai si shitai, a mun a wis a riɓin lo; a tek mbar ma sare, a riɓinet ti Ushuwar. A tek mbar mma si wor a la, mma a ndee ma we, mma si fwaasan, a riɓinis ti sinii kyai. Si nii, mi cwai, si kaa’ai laashi, si twaaf. Si shitai andai, si fuk kwa. Si nii, a faris sinii ma fwash, a faret Ushuwar ma sare.
Si ndok a mater mayes kong, si ndok a ɗer ma mgbang, ham ti se a ɗer. Si nii, ca bwaat ɗaami. Si lang a bwaatan ɗaam a fit, si har ɗaam, si bwaat fit. Si har, si bwaat ti, si har, si bwaat ti – mmis si raang ti. Ti ka lo mmis shak, si raang ti. Si nii kong, si fis fiti, si rang.
Ushuwar ti nii, mu hwit ti mmit zong, zong ti furet ti a ɗer. Ti nii, ti hwit ti makwil, makwil ti furet ti a ɗer. Itii ti nii, ɓa ti ɗor ti, ti re’ fukut mmit la, ti nii, mu hwit ti, a furis ti a ɗer. Itii ti nii, mu maɗor ti a ɗer, ti furet ti a ɗer, ti katet ti.
Si yu a wur kong, si niyise: “Ushuwar mu al?” Si niyis, si shitet kwa, Ushuwar ti katet a ɗer. Si nii, mi mafyaasai ɗer a hai, Ushuwar ti katet ti a ɗer. Si nii: “Andaa?”, si nii: “Ei!”
Tahun ra mmis a lang, a tek ngaret, a faris mar, a niyis: “A kai, a yu, a hayen nggong ma mer taa ɗer!” Mar a yu, a hai nggong ma mer, a hai nggong ma mer, see a halai, naaf ɗiin a findel, a nii: “Wamai a hai ti mer? A niyis gome: Ushuwar e? A fa giringi ta mahurali.” A yu a wur, a niyis: “Yaa wan a hai meri kwa! I nii, yaa hai mer, naaf ɗiin a findel, i sun kil mma ma findel ti kwa.”
Damis a nii: “Mar sani a ɓal shisher!”, a rut mar ma tang. A nii: “A yu, a hayen meri, mar sani mashisher mai. Ɗamani ta mun yo mi?” Mar ma ful a yu, a nii, ma hai meri, naaf sai a tikis a findel andai. A tik a laki andai, a nii: “Wamai a hai ti mer? A niyis gome: Ushuwar e? A fa giringi ta mahurali.” A tik a tutok, a hwit ti ngaret la, a yu, a lakis damis a wur.
Damis a tik a rut mar ma yuhun, a niyis: “Saa mar mashisher mai!” Ma yuhun a yu, a nii, ma tik a hai, a halai sai findeli andai, a tik a tutok, a yes, a nii: “Wa’, a da, nyaas mmin mi laki awei ti! Yin nai, i tik a halai, ɗaman sai a lak andai fat ɗak nyaas mmin si lak!”
Damis a nii: “Fe kyani miis fe ma shisher mi, hon ɓi inii i yu ti hai nzin!” Damis a was ngaret, a fur mawan a ɗer, a nii, ma hai meri, a halai, naaf sai a tik a findel, a nii: “Wamai a hai ti mer? A niyis gome: Ushuwar e? A fa giringi ta mahurali.” A nii: “He’, fe mmin si lak awei!”, a tok mayes a wur kong. A niyis fe: “Hu lak findel sai awei ti! I tik a halai ɗaman mma a findeli!”
Si yes, si mun ti, naf si cu ca, si wal. Fulul a masai, si nii, mi a mashit la, si shitai poɗak ti yes. Ti nii, mu a malang a sam ta nafu tuni, nafu tuni ti nggarai, ti nii: “Mi nai? Mu wan al? Mu wen a malang a sam!” Ti yu, ti lang a sam ta nafu tuni. Nafu tuni ti mun yo nafu ti sare, ti hon set, ti lang ti, ti nggarai kwa.
Ti nii, mu mashit kong, ti furai ryaa’ la. Si nii, mi mashit, zong ti Ushuwar ti fis a ndik. Fe si nii: “Yee! Zong ti Ushuwar! Zong ti Ushuwar!” Si nii, mi mashit, makwil ti Ushuwar ti fis a ndik. Fe si nii: “Yee! Ca malaal, hu yes, hu shitai makwil ti Ushuwar mwan, ti fisan a ndik!” Si yes, si nii mi mashit, fukut ma Ushuwar a fis a ndik. Poɗak a zaan la taa fo a yet ndai. Fe si nii: “Yee! Fukut ma Ushuwar man, a langan!” Si yes, si nii, mi mashit kong, ti nii: “Haak!”, Ushuwar ti fis a ndik kong! Ushuwar ndai, ɓwe a walan a bum set taa ra ta mafwash. Naf si ver a ndik, si nii: “Ushuwar ti tik la kong!” Ɗak kwai hural mi, si kai set a ɗer.
Waatan nzin ndai!
The tale of Ushuwar
Three women once went to greet the Old Father. Their names were Ushuwar, Uryau and Usuru’. So they set out to visit the Old Father.
They prepared kunu; Ushuwar made hers out of acca, it was very tasty. Uryau made hers out of “dog’s finger-millet”. Usuru’ did the same. It was very sticky.
So they set out for the Old Father’s house. They put on their best dresses. Ushuwar adorned her skirt with gold, both at the front and the back. The other two put on their old skirts.
They loaded foodstuff on their head and set out to go to the Old Father‘s house. On their way they met some shepherds. They asked them: “Where is the Old Father‘s house? The shepherds directed them to follow the way until they would meet some children tending cows. As they went, Ushuwar’s golden skirt reflected the light.
When they reached the children tending cows they asked them for the Old Father’s house. They directed them to follow the way until they would meet some children tending goats.
They went and really met the children tending goats, who directed them to climb one big hill. There they would find the Old Father‘s house.
They went and really found the Old Father‘s house. His children saw them coming. They came down from the hill to welcome them, praising Ushuwar’s beauty. They received the three women’s food and put it inside the house. They tried Ushuwar’s Kunu. It was very sweet kunu made of acca. They also tried Uryau’s kunu, which was made of “dog’s grass”. They shouted: “Phooey! That tastes awful!” They also tried Usuru’s Kunu, which was also bad. They took it and put it into another room. They accommodated Ushuwar in the best room.
The Old Father climbed a hill and drove down cows and dwarf-cows. He asked Ushuwar to choose any she liked. Ushuwar chose a big dwarf-cow and said to the Old Father: “You can catch this one for me!” He caught the dwarf-cow and slaughtered it for Ushuwar. He called up his dogs from the mountains. Then he asked Uryau and Usuru’ which one they would like. Each one made her choice. That was so because their food had been so bad. The dogs were caught and slaughtered for them. The meat was cooked. Part of it was put in the three women’s raincoats, to take it home. He took the dog’s meat into the two other women’s raincoats. The dwarf-cow meat he put into Ushuwar’s raincoat.
They put the meat on their heads and set out for their home. As they went, Ushuwar’s co-wives saw that when the Old Father went to mix the meat with oil for them, he had used the best oil for Ushuwar’s meat. For their meat, he had used very old oil, which was already spoiled. When they tried their meat, they had to vomit. When they saw this, they didn’t like it. They complained that he had given them the bad one, but Ushuwar the good one.
As they set out for their home, they arrived at a big river, which was overflowed. They decided to throw their belongings to the other side. They began to throw their belongings across the river. Ushuwar’s co-wives managed to throw their belongings across. All their loads — including the meat — reached the other side. They also managed to jump to the other side.
Ushuwar tried to throw across her walking stick, but it fell into the river. She tried to throw across her head-pad, but it fell into the river. She wanted to cross herself, so she untied her leather skirt and tried to throw it across, but it fell into the river. She wanted to swim across, but she fell into the river and disappeared.
When the two other women reached home, they were asked were Ushuwar was. They replied that they had not seen her, that Ushuwar must have remained at the river. They said that they wanted to jump across the river, but Ushuwar disappeared in the river. They were asked: “Is that so?”, they answered: “Yes!”
The next day their husband sent one of his sons to the river to cut down a tree for him. The boy went to cut down the tree, when he suddenly heard a voice saying: “Who is cutting a tree? Tell the boss that Ushuwar is in the water-spirit’s palace!” The boy returned home and told his father that he could not cut the tree, that he had heard a voice talking to him from nowhere.
His father called him a coward and sent another son. He told him that his brother was a coward, therefore he would send him to cut the tree. The second boy went and started cutting the tree, when he also heard someone talking to him. Again, the voice said: “Who is cutting a tree? Tell the boss that Ushuwar is in the water-spirit’s palace!” He also ran home, throwing his axe away, and told his father what had happened.
The father sent the third son, saying that the other was a coward. The third boy went, but also experienced the same thing. He ran home and told his father that what his brothers had told him was true, that he had also heard someone talking.
The father thought that the children were only afraid and decided to go himself. He angrily snatched the axe and made for the river to cut the tree, but there he also heard the voice: “Who is cutting a tree? Tell the boss that Ushuwar is in the water-spirit’s palace!” He was shocked and said: “Oh dear, my children have told me the truth. He dashed home. He told his sons that they had told the truth, that he had also heard the voice.
The evening came and they had just finished their last meal. As darkness fell, they saw a frog coming to their house. The frog wanted to enter into the first woman’s room, but she chased it away, saying: “What is this? Where is it going? Get out from here!” It went and entered the second woman’s room. This woman was more friendly, she allowed the frog to enter and didn’t chase it away.
Suddenly she saw that the frog started retching. They looked and saw that Ushuwar’s walking stick fell to the ground. The children shouted: “Hurrah! There is Ushuwar’s walking stick!” A short while after, Ushuwar’s head-pad came out. Again, the children shouted: “Hurrah! Ushuwar’s head-pad is here!” The next thing to come was Ushuwar’s skirt. The frog brought it all out from its mouth. The children shouted: “Hurrah! Look there, Ushuwar’s skirt has come out!” It finally retched again, and there was Ushuwar jumping to the floor. God had finally saved Ushuwar from the hand of the bad. People were very happy about Ushuwar’s return. She had been kidnapped by the water-spirits.
That is the end of my tale.