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99 36 The Donkey Thieves T here were two thieves. At nightfall, they stopped next to a man’s compound. They were looking for a way to get in to steal the man’s donkey. They decided to separate in order to execute their plan. Then, they would find each other again with a whistle signal. Meanwhile, the man was in the process of relieving himself in the bushes near his courtyard, and he heard them. One of the thieves entered the courtyard and began to untie the donkey. The man came after him with an axe. In the dark, the thief thought it was his companion. The donkey owner struck the thief in the back. He left the donkey and ran off. The man then hid himself in the dark, and whistled. The thief who had tried to untie the donkey came to meet him. Again he thought he had met up with his companion. The donkey owner asked him: ‘‘Didn’t you untie him? ‘‘No,’’ he answered, ‘‘and what is more, its owner took me by surprise and struck me on the back with an axe.’’ The man asked him to come closer so that he could see his injury. He took this opportunity to strike him again. The thief again ran off. He passed the other thief who signaled to him by whistling. Thinking that it was still the owner of the donkey, he said to him: 100 Alain-Joseph Sissao (Translated from the French by Nina Tanti) ‘‘Your mother ! Your mother ! Your mother !’’1 And thus ends this tale, which says that it is dangerous to steal the goods of another. 1. A very serious insult which uses the name of the mother. ...


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