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89 32 How the Yarse and the Guinea-Fowl Became Enemies T here were Yarse who left for war in the company of other Yarse. At that time, all the villages were at war. On their way, they became thirsty. They met Issaka, a guinea-fowl, and asked him: ‘‘Where did you find water to drink?’’ He told them that there was no more water when he got there, only mud left, and that was what he had used. The place he was talking about was rather far away. The chief of the Yarse asked him: ‘‘Can you take us there?’’ He refused, and the leader of the expedition said to him: ‘‘Father Issaka, you too, are Muslim like us. It’s just that we are Yarse and your name is Issaka. What is the difference?’’ The guinea-fowl still refused. They left him there and continued on their way. They came upon a warthog. He too had gone to look for water and had to settle for mud. The chief of the Yarse asked him: ‘‘Where did you find water, dear friend?’’ 90 Alain-Joseph Sissao (Translated from the French by Nina Tanti) ‘‘Truthfully, when I got to the river there was no more water. I sucked the mud and I rolled in it to refresh myself. Can’t you see that my body is still wet?’’ replied the warthog. ‘‘Can you take us there?’’ the Yarse asked. He willingly agreed. He led them to the river. The chief of the Yarse asked them to sit down for a moment while they prayed that God would give them water. The Yarse chief prayed and the river filled with water. They drank, washed, and even filled their gourds. Then the chief of the Yarse said to the warthog: ‘‘I have nothing to offer you, but I give you the river. She belongs to you. If you see someone lurking around and you are the stronger, then chase him away for the river is yours. And if Issaka the guinea-fowl comes to the river, catch him, pluck him, hit him with burning branches until he becomes completely red, then cut his throat. Even though he followed God’s law for a thousand years, when he found us in difficulty, we his Muslim brothers, he did not even take pity on us. This is why I tell you to hit him with burning branches, to kill him and to cut off his head.’’ This is why nowadays, even though the guinea-fowl himself practices fasting on the last day of Ramadan, the Muslim cuts his throat to celebrate the breaking of the fast. Even if there are ten chickens around him, he is the one that the Yarse will kill, because he refused to help his ancestors who nearly died of thirst. It is also because of this story that the Yarse decided to no longer eat the meat of the warthog, because of the help he gave to their ancestors. Nor do the Yarse eat pork because he is of the same family as the warthog, except that he lives in the bush. ...


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