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5 2 The Election of the Imam O ne day, all the animals of the bush gathered together to elect an imam. To be elected, one had to prove to be cleverer than the rest. The meeting took place at the edge of a pond. It was decided that the one who finished washing himself first would be elected. So one by one, the animals took their kettle, drew water, and began to wash themselves as fast as they could. Everyone was excited, except for the hyena, who sat calmly at the edge of the pond. The others asked him: ‘‘Hyena, don’t you want to become imam?’’ The hyena said nothing but continued watching them until they had all finished washing. Then they got up to recite verses from the Koran. They had hardly begun when the hyena suddenly jumped into the pond crying out: ‘‘Alaahu akbaru1 ! If it’s not too much, I don’t think it’s insufficient. You washed your feet and your hands, you dried your ears and scrubbed your head, and as for me, I simply washed myself. Between the one who washed himself and the one who washed without cleaning his chest and his torso, who is the first to finish?’’ It was unanimously decided that the hyena should be named imam. 1. ‘‘God is the greatest!’’ in Arabic. 6 Alain-Joseph Sissao (Translated from the French by Nina Tanti) Ever since that day, when the hyena leaves the bush to go to the village, he spends his time reciting verses from the Koran. There are verses he recites in such a way that even if you are sitting in a group, the hyena will come up and take what he wants from right under your nose and go back the way he came, without anyone saying a thing. The day the hyena was named imam, this power was granted to him at the same time. ...


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