The magic of sewing clothes

Here is the last of a number of stories dealing with the conflict between traditional and modern life. Mr. Mafulul Lek from Daffo recorded it in 1992 and helped me transcribe and translate it.

 

Kike ti tor Ɗaam

Kike ti tor ɗaam ɗes, mmit findel ma kang kwa. Ɗaam ma yish ndee si yaas ti a kasuwa, naf si gon kek, si shitai ɗam mama si twaar tihi kwa. Si haalai kek, wa’ ɗamani a ti’ kike. Si niyai, nan kike ti ngguli tuni ti. Taa, andai ti kwa.

Ɗamani nai ti lang la kong, shin ta gon fata’ ti mwa, ta yu, ɓa si toris. Naaf ma tori – Makpan ɗiin – ta wal a mba sis, ta kiris ren tima ta tik la, ta mat ɗaami. Nai ta niyis wawa’, ma fuk, ta toris, ta wop a wis ti ɗama mmis.

Nai Makpan ta shitai wet, ta niyis ye, ɓa ta mun a mamun, ta toris. Nai ta kir nggong a mamuni. Maɗam ta tek bakam ti lef ɗaami, ta ɓaak ti fata’i la, shin mma yit yis a shyaatan fo. Ta kinggit hai, ta kir a ndik, ta shitis Maɗam fo, ta niyis: “Mimai nai a masayi?” Ta niyis: “Ɗaman fat mi?” Ta niyis: “A tek ɗam, a lyaafen ti fata’ la pasarak, yo tite ndai?” Ta nii, miis ma manii, ngga’ mama si masaahai nai, si ku si tik a tof la ti yo gugwini; ta niyis, yit a shyaatai tindai masut ti mburati kwa. Ta niyis, ye, ɓa ta mun a mamun, ta shitai; ta niyis, a kwis.

Ta niyis wa’, mma ma wis a matik ti cif ma fata’ tima a goni kwa, naf ma ɓur si shitis kek. Ahun wa’, ɗam mama a mba sis ti, a ku a ɓaak fata’i la sai, a ti’ mi? Ta niyis wa’, a ngyaa’ai sis ti ɗaman sai, ko mmis a tek kwa. Wa’ ɗakwai yit fata’i ti, ta mbiis ti a yish ɗak!

Naf ndee si tof, si kai yit a wis a mbayat, Maɗami yit a nun mwat, yis a tor ɗaami. Ta wal, ta faris naf a mamun, ta ku ta tal cif ma tor ɗaami, ta rang ti. Ɗes, wa’ ta yu a wur, yit a nan ta mburu, ta mbiis ham a hai ta wa’ ngga’ mama naaf ma tor ɗaami a nggyaa’ai sis ti tep, ahun ɗam mama si mbaa ti ɗaam ma tori.

Taa nani, naf ma tor ɗaami ndee si tyaak a lef ɗaami, naf ma ɗaami sin a shitayi, kwa – mma si shitai miis ka’ ti kurkwil a hai. Ɓiil gbum gbum, si waan mmis ɗaam, mama si walan a tori a kaswa a fa wa’ ko mmis a fuk, si nggyaa’is yish ti ɗam mama si mbaa ti ɗaam ma tori sai kwa. Andai ɗes, si kwis ti ɗaam ma gonjong mama si gwaan la kyani. Si nii wa’, ɗaam ma naf ma mamot mi. Wa’ motan tima ti hek naf ma ɗaami mu yet ti a yish ta ɗaami. Ahun, mma si kai ko, si gon ɗaami, nai si wop a wan ta mburai, si faris shir, si damai hai tawe, si ku si shu a yish – ka ndok wa’ ɗama ɗiin a niyis.

The sewing machine

In Ron land, the sewing machine, too, caused a lot of trouble, when it first appeared. Before its arrival, people only bought ready-made clothes in the local markets. They did not know how the clothes were sewn and what the sewing machine looked like. Some people took it to be a kind of bicycle, since it was called Keke (‘bicycle’) in Hausa.

When the sewing machine first appeared in the Ron land, a certain Ron man bought a piece of cloth and took it to the tailor. The tailor, an Ibo man, took the man’s measurements and told him to come and collect the clothes the next day. But the man wanted to wait until he had finished sewing it.

So the tailor asked the man to sit down and wait. Then he took his scissor and cut the cloth. When the man saw this, he became annoyed and asked the tailor what the hell he was doing. The tailor was surprised about the man’s reaction. The man asked him: “Why did you cut my cloth into pieces?” The tailor replied: “But that is how it is done!”. The man would not believe anything like that.

He threatened to take the tailor to court, unless he would pay him the piece of cloth he had torn. He was also suspicious of the tape with which the tailor had taken the measurements. When the tailor told him that he had only measured him with it, he wouldn’t believe it. He had expected that the measurements would be taken with the cloth, not with the tape.

Other people gathered at the tailor’s shop when they hard them quarreling. They had to stand by until the tailor had finished sewing the man’s clothes and the man had paid him. Afterwards, the man immediately went to a native doctor to find out whether his second self had been harmed by the tailor’s tape.

After this incident, tailors never again cut the cloth in presence of their customers – unless they already knew about the sewing machine. On the other hand, some people only buy ready-made clothes, in fear of the measuring tape.

In the same way, some people suspect second-hand clothes sold in the markets. They fear that if these are clothes of dead people, the disease which killed the former owner may still be inside the clothes. If they still buy it, they will at least ask a native doctor to remove any disease found in it before they will wear it.

More stories by Mafulul Lek dealing with the conflict between traditional and modern life:

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