OK, just one more story…

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This one happens in Nigeria. There were two men, farmers. They grew mangos, plantains, yams. Then they would take them to the market. They used to have two stalls on opposite sides of the road. They were good friends and often crossed the road for a chat when the market was slow. They’d always ask each other for advice – when to plant, when to harvest, how to discipline their children…

But Elegba, the god of Chance and Fate, the god of journeys and of the crossroads was watching.

So, they were good friends. But nothing had really tested their friendship. If it stayed like that it would be a hollow reed, not a strong tree. It couldn’t run like a straight road, there had to be bends in the road, crossroads.

So he made a hat. Red on one side, black on the other, with cowrie shells dangling down. And he walked along that road on market day when the two friends were there on either side. Walking, singing to himself, doing a little jig, tapping his staff on the road.

When he had passed them the friends had a word.
“That was a fine song and dance, but what a strange red hat.”
“Agreed the song was good, but the hat, surely you saw it was black?”
“No, it was red my friend, as red as these berries I’m selling here.”
“No, it was as black as night,” said the first, giving his friend a poke, “if you get my point.”
“I know what you are trying to tell me,” said his other, giving his friend a push, “but it was red!”

And soon the two men were rolling in the dust, shouting “Red!” and “Black!” and “Liar!” and “Idiot!” and a crowd gathered round to watch.

That was when Elegba came walking, singing, dancing back down the road. The crowd parted. The two friends got up and stood to either side.

And as Elegba reached them, he did a spin: he turned, and turned again, faster and faster. And then continued his dance along the road. And as he went, he sung
(to the tune of Jamaica Farewell):

One side’s black
And one side’s red
And you just quarrel
You should see instead
I see you fighting
Down on the ground
Until you see me
Turn around.

And he disappeared down the road.

The two men knew now what had happened. They went to each other and dusted each other down, took each other by the hand.

“My friend,” said the first, “we should have seen both sides of the dancer’s hat before we said what colour it was.”
“Yes, my friend,” said the other, “and we should hear both sides of the story before we lose a day at the market.”

§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§–§

hums Jamaica Farewell, tapping book

Can I have another one?

No. No more.

But that one was too noisy. I need a quiet one to get me off to sleep…

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1 Comment »

  1. elle said

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/planeta/sets/72157617616107081

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