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1 1 The Rooster and the Elephant A rooster and an elephant were courting the same woman. The day came when they were to meet. Arriving at the home of his future wife the rooster said: ‘‘If I ever come across the one who is courting the same woman as I am, I’ll show him who’s boss!’’ After saying this he tore off his tail feathers and stuck them in the middle of a garbage heap. As soon as the rooster left, the elephant arrived. He asked: ‘‘Where is my rival?’’ He was told that he was just there, and that he had left his feathers. The elephant asked to see them. Upon seeing them, the elephant laughed. With his left hoof he stamped the ground. The footprint he made became a pond. And he said: ‘‘The day I meet the rooster, I will show him what courage is!’’ So they planned to meet twelve days later to determine who was the bravest and who would win the woman. The rooster’s supporters were the bee and the wasp. On his side, the elephant gathered together all the four-legged animals, and even the toads. Each of them got ready for the day of battle. No-Raôgo, the rooster, went to get two cans : one he filled with curdled milk and the other, with a reddish liquid he had obtained by crushing shea nuts. 2 Alain-Joseph Sissao (Translated from the French by Nina Tanti) On the day of the battle, the calao bird was the rooster’s war chief. The elephant was the first to arrive. He asked the monkey to climb up into a Caicedrat tree1 to see if his enemies were on their way. When the rooster saw the monkey in the tree, he asked a bird to go and strike him on the head with the can of milk. The bird went and struck the monkey. The can broke and the milk spilled out all over the monkey’s body. Those watching cried out in horror: the monkey’s head had split open and his brains were spilling out! But what the people thought was brains, was nothing but curdled milk. The monkey began cleaning himself off. The bird with the can full of the red liquid obtained from the shea nuts arrived and struck again. This time, everyone was sure it was over. Meanwhile, the calao bird sang: Zom bugum, n tabd bugum! Zom bugum, n tabd bugum! Climb onto the fire, stamp out the fire! Climb onto the fire, stamp out the fire! And the rooster took up the song: Ked wum yangsee heee! The deer are conquered! The rooster and his followers were now walking towards the meeting place. The bees said to the rooster: ‘‘Leave them to us! We will sting them and see what happens. If we aren’t able to kill them off, the other flying insects will come help us out.’’ Before he knew it, the elephant was stung all over, in his trunk, in his ears, between his toes… The bees stung him so much that he couldn’t keep still. He realized there were 1. Khaya senegalensis (Meliaceae), kuka in Moore. 3 Folktales from the Moose of Burkina Faso too many of them. He decided to flee. All the four-legged animals followed him. The rooster’s followers chased them off, singing: Zom bugum, n tabd bugum! Zom bugum, n tabd bugum! Zom bugum, n tabd bugum! Zom bugum, n tabd bugum! … In their rush to escape, the four-legged animals trampled the toads and the chickens swallowed them up. And this is how flying insects won the woman for the rooster. ...


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