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79 29 The World Turns, The World Changes B ack when slavery still existed, a rich man named Runiwangda bought a slave whose name was Runigilgda, ‘‘the world turns.’’ When they arrived home, he asked him: ‘‘What did you used to do?’’ ‘‘Business,’’ he answered. The rich man provided him with some money so that he could do business. The slave started his business and earned a lot of money. But one night when Runigilgda was thinking things over in his head, he felt overcome with sadness: when he had left his home, his father was so old that it had been his job to support his family. At sunrise, he went to see his master and told him what was worrying him: ‘‘It’s been twelve years since I left my home. At that time, my father was already very old and I was made head of the family. Now, I don’t know what is happening with them. This is why I have come to see you. If a slave can buy back his freedom, I have the means to do it. I would like to return to my family.’’ Runigilgda did, in fact, have the money for when he was running his business he had saved up twenty-five francs a day. 80 Alain-Joseph Sissao (Translated from the French by Nina Tanti) After listening to him, his master agreed to set him free. Runigilgda asked him how much he should pay him to regain his freedom. His master asked for the amount of money he had given him to start his business. Runigilgda paid it back to him and thanked his master who, for the last twelve years had taken care of him as he would his own son. He had treated him with respect and had never mistreated him. When Runigilgda returned home, the village chief had been dead for a long time. But nobody had yet taken his place. The population came out to greet him. The rich people gave him presents which he distributed to the needy. Thus the people could tell he was not only rich but above all he was generous. So they named him chief of the village. Meanwhile, Runiwangda, his former master, had fallen into slavery. He was led from one marketplace to another, but no one wanted him because he was too old. Seeing that no one came forward to buy Runiwangda, someone suggested to the seller to go see Runigilgda, because he would surely buy Runiwangda and keep him in his court. He would not make him suffer. He was sure of it. So the seller led Runiwangda to the chief Runigilgda. The chief recognized the prisoner immediately. He asked him: ‘‘Do you know me?’’ He said no. He asked the question three times, but the prisoner kept saying no. The chief introduced himself. He bought old Runiwangda and kept him in his court. When the seller had gone, the chief gave the old man one hundred sheep, one hundred heads of cattle, and one hundred goats. He had a house built for him and gave him wives. Runiwangda again became like a chief. 81 Folktales from the Moose of Burkina Faso This tale advises us to be careful, for the world is always turning. You can be rich one day and become poor the next, or come to a bad end. He who is rich today must therefore help the others for we know what today has in store for us, but we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. ...


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