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Hausa Folk-Lore, by Maalam Shaihua, tr. by R. Sutherland Rattray, [1913], at

12. A story about a giant, and the cause of thunder

This story is about a forest giant, about him and a man called, A-Man-among-Men.

A story, a story. Let it go, let it come.

There was a certain man by name, A-Man-among-Men, always when he came from the bush he used to lift up a tree (and) come, (and) throw (it down), and say, 'I am A-Man-among-Men.' His wife said, 'Come now, leave off saying you are a-man-among-men; if you saw a-man-among-men you would run.' But he said, 'It is a lie.'

Now it was always so, if he has brought in wood, then he would throw it down with force, (and) say, 'I am A-Man-among-Men.' The wife said, 'Come now, leave off saying so; if you have seen a man-among-men, you would run.' But he said, I It is a lie.'

Now one day his wife went to the stream. She came to a certain well; the well bucket, ten men were (necessary to) draw it up. She came, (but) had to do without the water, so she turned back. She was going home, when she met another woman (who) said, 'Where are you going with a calabash, with no water?' She said, 'I have come and seen a bucket there. I could not draw it; that is what caused me to turn back home.' And this (second) woman, who had this (a) son, said, 'Let us return that you may find (water).' She said, 'All right.'

So they returned together to the well. This woman, who had the son, told the boy to lift the bucket and draw water. Now the boy was small, not past the age when he was carried on his mother's back. Then he lifted the bucket then and there, and put it in the well, (and) drew up the water. They filled their large water-pots, they bathed, they washed their clothes, they lifted up the water to go home. This one was astonished.

Then she saw that one who had the boy has turned off the path and was entering the bush. Then the wife of (him called) A-Man-among-Men said, 'Where are you going?' She said to her, 'I am going home, where else?' She said, 'Is that the way to your home?' She said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Whose home is it?' She said, 'The home of A-Man-among-Men.'

Then she was silent; she did not say anything till she got home. She told her husband. He said that to-morrow she must take him (there). She replied, 'May Allah give us a to-morrow.' Next morning he was the first to get up from sleep. He took the weapons of the chase and slung them over his shoulder. He put his axe on his shoulder and wakened her (his wife) from sleep. He said, 'Get up, let us go. Take me that I may see, that I may see the (one called) A-Man-among-Men.'

She got up, lifted her large water-pot, and passed on in front. He was following her until they got to the edge of the well. Now they found what they sought indeed. (As) they were coming, the wife of A-Man-among-Men came up, both she and her son. They greeted her, and the wife of this one showed him the bucket (and) said, 'Lift it and draw water for me.'

So he went and lifted the bucket in a rage and let it down the well; but the bucket pulled him, (and) he would have fallen into the well, when the little boy seized him, both him and the bucket, and drew (out) and threw them on one side. Then the boy lifted up the bucket, put it in the well, drew water, and filled their water-pots.

His wife said, 'You have said you are going to see him called A-Man-among-Men. You have seen this is his wife and son. If you still want to go you can go together. As for me, I am not going.' The boy's mother said, 'Oh, what is the matter? You had better not come.' (But) he said he would come; and she said, 'Let us be off.' They set out.

When they arrived (at the house) then she showed him a place for storing meat, (and) he got inside. Now he, the master of the house, was not at home; he has gone to the bush. She (his wife) said, 'You have seen he has gone to the bush; but you must not stir if he has come.' He sat inside till evening came.

The master of the house came. He keeps saying, 'I smell the smell of a man.' His wife said, 'Is there another person here? It is not is not I.' Thus, if he said he smelled the smell of a man, then she would say, 'Is there another person here. Is it not I? If you want to eat me up, well and good, for there is no one else but I.'

Now he was a huge man, his words like a tornado; ten elephants he would eat. When dawn came, he made his morning meal of one; then he went to the bush, and if he should see a person there he would kill him.

Now he (A Man-among-Men) was in the store-house, hidden. The man's wife told him, saying, 'You must not move till he is asleep. If you have seen the place dark, he is not asleep; if you have seen the place light, that is a sign he is asleep; come out and fly.' Shortly after he saw the place has become light like day, so he came out.

He was running, he was running, until dawn, he was running, till the sun rose he was running, he did not stand. Then that man woke up from sleep and he said, 'I smell the smell of a man, I smell the smell of a man.' He rose up, he followed where the man had gone. He was running. He also, the other one, was running till he met some people who were clearing the ground for a farm, (and) they asked what had happened. And he said, 'Some one chased (is chasing) me.' They said, 'Stand here till he comes.'

A short time passed, and the wind caused by him came; it lifted them (and) cast them down. And he said, 'Yes, that is it, the wind he makes (running); he himself has not yet come. If you are able (to withstand him) tell me. If you are not able, say so.' And they said, 'Pass on.'

So he ran off, and came and met some people hoeing. They said, 'What chased (is chasing) you?' He replied, 'Some one pursued (is pursuing) me.' They said, 'What kind of a man chased (is chasing) (one) such as you.' He said, 'Some one who says he is A-Man-among-Men. They said, 'Not a man-among-men, a man-among-women. Stand till he comes.'

He stood. Here he was when the wind of him came, it was pushing about the men who were hoeing. So he said, 'You have seen, that is the wind he makes; he has not yet come himself If you are a match for him tell me; if not say so.' And they said, 'Pass on'; and off he ran. He was running. He came across some people sowing; they said, 'What are you running for?' He said, 'Some one chased (is chasing) me.' And they said, 'What kind of a man is it who chased (is chasing) the like of you?' He said, 'His name is A-Man-among-Men.' They said, 'Sit here till he comes.' He sat down.

In a short time the wind he made came (and) it lifted them and cast them down. And they said, 'What kind of wind is that?' He, the man who was being pursued, said, 'It is his wind.' And they said, 'Pass on.' They threw away the sowing implements, (and) went into the bush (and) hid,
but that one was running on.

He came (and) met a certain huge man; he was sitting alone at the foot of a baobab tree. He had killed elephants and was roasting them, as for him, twenty elephants he could eat; in the morning he broke his fast with five. His name was 'The Giant of the Forest.'

Then he questioned him and said, 'Where are you going in all this haste?' And he said, 'A-Man-among-Men chased (is chasing) me.' And the Giant of the Forest said, 'Come here, sit down till he comes.' He sat down. They waited a little while. Then a wind made by A-Man-among-Men came, and lifted him, (and) was about to carry him off, when the Giant of the Forest shouted to him to come back. And he said, 'It is not I myself who am going off, the wind caused by the man is taking me away.' At that the Giant of the Forest got in a rage, he got up and caught his hand, and placed it under his thigh.

He was sitting until A-Man-among-Men came up and said, 'You sitting there, are you of the living, or of the dead?' And the Giant of the Forest said, 'You are interfering.' And A-Man-among-Men said, 'If you want to find health give up to me what you are keeping there.' And the Giant of the Forest said, 'Come and take (him).' And at that he flew into a rage and sprang and seized him. They were struggling together.

When they had twisted their legs round one another they leaped up into the heavens. Till this day they are wrestling there; when they are tired out they sit down and rest; and if they rise up to struggle that is the thunder you are wont to hear in the sky; it is they struggling.

He also, that other one, found himself (escaped), and went home, and told the tale. And his wife said, 'That is why I was always telling you whatever you do, make little of it. Whether it be you excel in strength, or in power, or riches, or poverty, and are puffed up with pride, it is all the same; some one is better than you. You said, it was a lie. Behold, your own eyes have seen.'

Off with the rat's head.

Next: 13. A story about an orphan which was the origin of the saying 'The orphan with a coat of skin is hated, but when it is a metal one he is honoured'