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83 30 Sombé1 A n old man had two wives. The first was sterile. The second one gave birth to a boy. The old man spent all night wondering what name to give his son. When day came, he discussed the problem with his first wife, who told him to name him Sombé. So the child was named Sombé. A few years later the second wife died, and the old man as well. Only Sombé and the first wife were left. The latter wondered what she could do to defeat Sombé. She got an idea. She found a large field and ordered the young man to work there all alone, sowing and harvesting. Sombé agreed. Sombé had a dog. Every day he left it at home so he could go into the field. When he had gone, his step-mother prepared some porridge2 and put poison into the sauce to kill him. The dog, having seen the step-mother do this, ran to join his master in the field and warn him. He said to him: ‘‘When you get home if your step-mother offers you some porridge, refuse to eat it and ask her to prepare you some beans, for she put some poison in the sauce to kill you.’’ When he arrived home, the woman busied herself all around him, greeted him and gave him something to eat. Sombé refuse the food and asked her for some beans. She eventually went and prepared some for him. 1. Literally: ‘‘He who is good.’’ 2. A dish made of millet or corn which is eaten with a sauce. It is the daily staple of the Moose people, sagbo, in Moore. 84 Alain-Joseph Sissao (Translated from the French by Nina Tanti) The next day, once he had gone to the field, she prepared a sauce with beans and put some poison in it. The dog went and told his master about it. When he arrived home Sombé refused the sauce with beans and asked for some porridge. The next day when he had gone, the step-mother prepared some porridge and some beans and added poison. The dog ran to warn his master about it and told him to ask for some zom koom3 . The old woman eventually ground some flour to prepare zom koom for Sombé. The step-mother learned later that the dog was the one informing his master. So she made the decision to kill Sombé directly. That day when he left for the field, the dog went with him and told him that he should no longer return home or else the old woman would kill him. Together, they went down the road without knowing where to go. They arrived at the entrance to a village. The dog asked Sombé to kill him and bury him. Sombé refused. The dog insisted and finally Sombé did what he had asked. When he arrived in the village, the chief had just died and the people were getting ready to bury him. Sombé offered to help them. When they were looking for a new chief, someone suggested Sombé. Ever since Sombé had left his step-mother’s house, she suffered from hunger and had no one to take care of her. So one day she decided to leave. She arrived at the entrance to a village and lay down next to a well. When the women of the village came to get water, she told them she was hungry and asked them for something to eat. The women gave her water and said they had nothing there for her to eat. Once they were back in the village, the women told the chief. He gave them some peanuts and asked them to place them on the ground, one by one, until they reached the well. 3. Literally: ‘‘flour water.’’ It is the drink offered to guests to welcome them. 85 Folktales from the Moose of Burkina Faso The women did what he had asked. When they had finished drawing water from the well, the old woman saw a peanut and took it. A little farther off she saw another one. She followed each one of the peanuts until she reached the doors of the palace. When the chief saw her, he recognized her. He asked her: ‘‘Do you recognize me?’’ She said no. He asked her the question three times, and three times she said no. So the chief told her: ‘‘I am your son, Sombé.’’ The old...


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