The radio on trial by the oracle


Bushtr82repro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new year has started. Here is another funny story written down by Mr. Mafulul Lek in 1992. It shows how modern life can be a challenge at times. In this case, someone came across a radio for the first time in his life.

In the story, a certain “truth-finding” test is mentioned. In the  past, in traditional trials, individuals were given a poison made of abrus beans (ser) to drink. This was called sho ser, sho njwal, or just ser. Anyone who died from taking the poison was guilty. In less serious cases, the poison was given to a chicken of a person. If his or her chicken died, he or she would be fined according to the gravity of the offence.

Ɓur ti sho ser ti canan

Ridiyo ndee ti mun ka’ a malang la na a shinggil a can, Mawulyang a rundong ɗiin ta fa gonan. Naf fa sin Bilati sin yis ka’ dukulum, mma si suna ɗama ɗiin a hai ta ridiyohi kwa. Marugba ta gon ridiyohi, ta mba lul ɗama a hai ta ngga’ mama si ɓwaahai, ahun si ndwaas la kwa. Naf mama a gon ɗam ma findel ti ceni a yis si nii, nan a walan a sun hai ma ɗamani, a ku a gon. Nai si shwis batur ti kek, si ɓwai, si faris.

Taa, Mabilat a suna ɗama ɗiin hai kwa gbum. Nai ta mat ridiyohi, yit a findel, ta fwaar, yit ti a Rugba. Ta kir a ndik, nyaas Bilat si tof a halayi. Shak si tong mahurut a ndik, wa’ mi shurai naf ma ho’an mama si halai, mi findel a ridiyohi.

Ɓwe ti furis a hum, sin a magbong a halai ɗaam mama ridiyo mu toti. Nggwang si manis ta amuni. Marugba mama a gon ridiyohi ta mahurut, ta kabok, wa’ naf mama mi findel a ridiyohi, fulul a masai, ɓa si mun mba kong, nya mi twaak sis, ma fuk, ta yu a nya. Ta tot, ta tot wet, ridiyo yet ɓat a findel. Ta tek la ta ti a maɗuf, ta lang ti a but, ta kir a mamun. Nyaas mama kwai si fo a halai ridiyohi si kulis naf ma findel a ridiyohi fof ka ca. Ta fut cahi ka nzis, ta shwet ridiyo shen ti a but.

Ta wis a cwai nzis cahi, ta tik la, ca ti ridiyohi yet ti, ka itii ridiyohi yet ɓat a hai ta findel. Ta furai cwai ko. Ta lulis, si kwis ka cwai cahi ami, ta lul wet. Ta tatet ridiyohi si naf mama mi findel tikili kil ma nya, ta tek, ta kir ti a faakon, ta gu’is ɗam ma gu’i, ka ndok wa’ si kon a anzam. Ta juf a maɗuf, ta tik a halai ridiyo yet a hai ta findel. Ta lang, ta vur ta ti a but, ta lang ti la a maɗuf. Ta mbuk gaat, ta sorai ridiyohi hai, ta niyet ridiyo ka naf mama mi findel tikili: „Hwaa mun mba kong ahun wet? I kulu ca, hu ku ka cwayi, i tatu kil ma nya, hu ku ka nyahi, i kabok hu, i kabok wet. Hwaa gam sen ti findel mai ha?“ Ta halai ridiyo yet a hai ta findeli, ta tufai gaat lulya, ta dash ridiyohi la hap-hap! Ta wal a dash la, a nii: „Ɗam mama naf ma Masara mi wan a masai sen ti, si masai kek !“ Ta nii, mma mi wan a hek sis ti kwa, talal ti kek, ma ti ɗam ma talali.

Nai mwis Maarun ɗiin ta halai ɗamani, ta ɗik a kam kil, yit a Rugbahi. Ta niyis Marugbahi: „Si nii, a tuk ɓur, naf ma Masara na a mayes, ɓa si kai ha! Nai i yes, ɓa i laka shengat ɗiin mwan – ahun a fuk kwa?“ Ta niyis: „A laken, i halai ɗong.“ Ta niyis: „Ɓur tima a tuk, a wan a mapwet kwa. Mi wan a hek ha ti gbum. Ngga’ mma ci wan a masayi, yit mai: A faren ridiyohi. Yaa wan ti a fo ta naf ma Masara, i niiys: naf mmin si nii, ridiyohi ka naf ma findel tikili, shak ɗigir mi. I niyis: I hof ridiyohi a ya ti, ɓa i yu, i halai, nai ɗamani a ku a fur. Hai aa a niyis ɗaman mama i lak, i ɗingai ɗama ɗiin kwa. Mma naf mmin si nii, si sun andai kwa, ni har canan, ni yu a shohi a fa ɓur nzinin yish. Mma si hwyen ti caan, yin i yu, mma i hwyis ti, sin si yu!“ Ta niyis Marugba: „A shitai, ha mapweta ndai kong kwa?“ Mabilat ta niyis: „Findel mma, findel mai!“ Maarun ta niyis: „Ha na, haa wen a far ɗaɗiin, ahun ci walan ndii ti fo ma folel-e?“ Mabilat ta niyis: „A yes a bum sen ti mawei ti. Aa yo naafara mai ma ko fiyang. I palang ha.“

Taa tei, Maarun ta har jip ma ridiyohi, ta yesis ti a wur. Ta tof naf ma kudang mmis, ta kiris ridiyohi a ndik, ta niyis: „Mabilat mai, a gon ridiyo tuni. Nai a dash la, ka naf ma findel tikili nggyash-nggyash. Ɗam mama a kir a masai andai, a nii, a faris ca, si kwis ka cwai i, a niyis, si mun mba t findeli, fulul a masai, ɓa si yu a nya, si kwis ɗes. Nai a dash la, a nii, ɗaman mama naf ma Masara mi wan a masai sis ti, si masai kek !“

Ta tikis tikil shak ngga’ mama si lak si Marugbahi. Ta niyis, Mawulyang a gofis rundong shita’ hara fulal, ɓa ta bum sis a ra ta ɓuri. Ta niyis naf mmisi, ma wis a far rundong ɗanggat, mma si fuk, si kai canan, si yu a shohi si shak naaf mama a fo ta ɓur a nii, naf ma findel a ridiyo, ka yit ridiyohi, ɗigir mi kwa. Ta niyis, ahun si shitai tite?

Naf ma mgbang mmis ɗiin ta shitai jip ma ridiyo mama Mabilati a dash ti a ndik, ta niyis, findel mmis, findel ma mgbang mai. Ta niyis, ridiyohi ka naf ma findel tikili, kpak ɗigir mi. Ta nii, mma andai ti kwa, mimai a kir, ridiyo mu ti dyar, ka tin, ka fo, ka sakwar, ka hai, ka re fat ɗafal kwa? Ahun wa’ mma andai ti kwa, naf mama yit Marugba a dash sin a findel ti a ridiyohi, si nzek al? Ma mgbang mmisi ta niyis, a hyau ɗes, si tong mba canan, si shitai tawe, si ku si ɓuri a fo ta naf Masara.

Nai naf mmis si kai canan fulal – ɗanggat mmis, ɗanggat ma ridiyo, ka naf ma findel tikili -, si yu a mbayi. Si diyis mburu folal a fo, caan ma ridiyo ka ma naf ma findel tikil ta mot. Mburu ta faris naf ma caan tima ti mot kurahi, ta cu caani ɗamisi, ɗak si masaahayi. Sin mama caan nzis ti ɗu si mun a matik la, sin a fwaa’ vwyar, ɗak si masaahayi ɗes. Si tikis mwis ma Marugba a lul, si niyis: „Mma ca yu a fo ta ɓur, si niya, ha si Marugba mama a hofa ridiyo tima ni dashi, shak hwaa yo ɗigir mi ɗes, hu nii mi?“ Ta niyis: „Naaf mama a nii, nin ɗigir mi, nai ni kai mminin caani, ta kai mmis andai ɗes.“ Si niyis: „Ca wop a har canani, ca mba tawe!“

Si tik ti ta mburuhi, si tikis a dya’ folal a fo. Ta farai canan seri, si mwaatis mafulali! Si nii: „Tite mwani? Ahun mburu ma seri a kaf kwa ti yo?“ Fe mama si yu ti canan a seri si niyis, ɗam mama a ɓul, yit mai, mburuhi mai, a ɓalisai canan seri, nai si sho, si mwaat. Si niyis, shohi ti canan, mawei ɗiin mu ti kwa. Naaf mama a far folal hyaang, mburu a nyaahai ser ham, ta ku ta mba, ta farai caan mmisi. Nai caani ti ɗu. Mma naaf a faris ɗama kwa, ahun a faris hyaang kwa, nai ta mgbakai caani ser, ta sho, ta mot. Si niyis, ɗamani nai kek, mama a kir canani mafulali, si mwaatis.

Si nii, ɗam ma masayi amwash, a kat mi? Mwis ma Marugba ta niyis: „Naf ma Asara mi gam sis ti ɗama a hai ta ridiyo nzis tima a dash lahi kwa. Shisher ti kek, ti kai sis, nai a nii, mma ɓur ti, a tek, mawan a tali. Ahun mma mi wan a hek sis ti, si hek. Nai i niyis, ta faren yin talali, ɓa ni tot ɓuri si naf masarahi, ɓa yin niyis naaf masara, naf mmin mi, si hek ridiyohi, ka naf ma findel tikili, si nii, ɗigir mi. Naaf mama a nii, mi yo ɗigir mi kwa, ni har canan akul. A niyen, a palang findel mama i lakisi. A faren rundong shita’ hara fulal. Canani nai, ca shuan, caan ma naf ma findel a ridiyohi a mot. Findel a mawal ndai – ahun mi ɗes?“ Si niyis: „Ɓur ti mawal. A yu ti kura ma caan ma ɗigir mama a moti, si caan mmican, mama a ɗuhi, a gofis Marugbahi, a kul can rundong mmican!“

Nai a yu, ta gofis Mabilat caan si kura ma caani, ta nggiis rundong mmis! Ngga’ mama dukulum a hai ti Marugba, ka ɓur ti sho ser ti Run, ndee ti cu rundong shita’ hara fulal nai.

The radio on trial by the oracle

When the radio first appeared in the Ron land, a nomadic Fulani man bought one. At that time, both the Ron people and the nomadic Fulani knew nothing yet about it.

When the man bought the radio, he didn’t ask how he should handle it. Those who sold the radio to him thought he should have known something about it, before buying it. Therefore, they simply put in the batteries, switched it on and gave it to him. The man immediately rushed home with it.

At home, all the Fulani men and women of the neighborhood came to see and listen to the „white man’s thing“. First, they all knelt down to greet the voices of the great men coming from the radio.

At sun-set, they were still listening to the radio. Their buttocks already started paining, so the Fulani man begged the men talking in the radio to allow them go to sleep. But still, they wouldn’t stop talking.

He took the radio and carried it into the house. Those who came to listen to the radio, as well as its owner, all brought food and presented it to those voices who were coming from the radio. The man ate his own food, but when he came back to the radio, the food was still there and the voices were still talking. He became annoyed and asked the men in the radio, why they didn’t eat the food, but again, there was no answer.

He took the radio, which was still talking, into another room and made a bed for it. He put it into the bed and covered it with a blanket, lest the people inside should freeze.

He went out, but there he could hear that the radio was still talking. So he dashed inside, seized the radio and took it outside. Then he posted himself in front of it, with a big stick in his hand. He gave those speaking inside the radio the last warning: „Will you now shut up or not? I gave you food, you refused to eat. I asked you to keep quiet, but you wouldn’t respect me. I made a bed for you, but you refused to sleep. Do you want trouble with me?“

Again, the radio went on talking. So he took the stick and beat the radio into pieces. Having done that, he said: „I am prepared to face the law, whether it is only a matter of fine or even a death sentence, for having killed the white man’s thing.“

A Ron man who was a close friend of the Fulani man heard about the incident. Early next morning, he left for his bush-house. After exchanging greetings, he told his friend: „We heard that the white man’s authorities are coming to arrest you. I have come to tell you a way out of the trouble. Would you like to hear it?“ The man replied him that he would gladly welcome any idea that could save him.

His Ron friend then told him: „They will surely kill you for this big crime you have committed. The only way out for you is to put the blame on me. You will give me the remains of the radio. I will take them to the white man’s native authority and tell them that I borrowed the radio from you to listen to it. But my people seized it from me and destroyed it because they thought that the voices inside it were witches! If anyone will challenge me, we will settle it by oracle in our native court, according to our tradition. If I lose the case, I will bear the consequences. If I win, then I am free.“

He asked his Fulani friend: „Do you see how you will be saved?“ The Fulani man replied: „Yes, I completely agree with you.“ Then the Ron man asked him whether he deemed it fit to give him some token of thanks. The Fulani man gave him two fat bulls, complimenting him: „You have staked your life for me. You are a real friend! Thank you so much!“

The Ron man collected the remains of the radio and went home with them. There, he gathered his family and narrated the whole story to them, how the Fulani man bought the radio, but later destroyed it, together with the people talking inside it, because they wouldn’t react to any offers he made to them and wouldn’t stop talking either.

He also told them about the „help“ he had offered to his Fulani friend. He told them that his friend gave him two fat bulls and promised to give them one, if they would assist him by blaming the radio of witchcraft and carrying out the type of oracle that is used for trying such cases.

An elder member of the family took a serious look at the remains of the radio. He said there were good reasons to believe that the radio was witchcraft and therefore the family fully supported him and his Fulani friend. If the radio was not witchcraft, how could it talk and still not look like a human being? And where did those people inside the radio escape, when the Fulani man beat it? He also proposed that before going to the colonial native court, the oracle should be consulted privately first.

So they sent two members of the family with two chicken – one representing the radio, one the other party – to a native doctor. Both would normally be given an equal portion of a certain poison. If the one representing the radio died, its guilt was proven; if the one representing the people died, their guilt was proven. But they bribed the native doctor, to make sure that the chicken representing the radio died, and the other one survived. According to the tradition, the native doctor gave the wing of the dead chicken to them and kept the dead remains. On their way back home, they were blowing a certain flute. The wing and the surviving chicken would later be presented to the native court as a proof of the radio’s guilt.

Back home from the native doctor, people were happy to see that the chicken representing the family had survived. But again, the elder posed a question to the friend of the Fulani man: „What would you and your friend do if we hold you guilty of the same witchcraft, for bringing the destroyed radio to our house?“ The man replied: „We would also simply settle it by the same type of oracle.“ So two chicken were again sent to the native doctor. But this time, both chicken died! The people at home became confused. They asked themselves whether the native doctor had not been given enough bribes. But those who had carried the chicken told them that the native doctor had by accident given too much poison to both chicken, that is why they both died.

They began to argue about the value of the whole oracle. If the outcome of the oracle was depending on the amount of bribes given to the native doctor, what was the truth in it? Everyone agreed with what the messengers to the native doctor said. But what should they do now?

The friend of the Fulani man then explained to them that the white man’s authorities were not really after the Fulani man, that his friend was merely afraid they would take hold of him for killing the radio. Therefore, he had offered his help, by putting the radio on witchcraft trial, the way they did. Now that the first oracle proved the radio being guilty of witchcraft, there was nothing more to do but to bring the evidence to his Fulani friend and get the two fat bulls. The elder then passed his final verdict on the whole case. He ordered the man to take the wing of the dead chicken and the one which survived to his friend and get the reward.

The man went and showed the evidence to his Fulani friend. Then he took his two bulls and went home. That is how through fear and ignorance, the Fulani man sacrificed two fat bulls to the Ron oracle.

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