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101 37 The Chief, the Hawk, the Turtledove, and the Little Child O ne day, a chief sat resting under a tree in his courtyard. He saw a hawk chasing a turtledove. The turtledove flew into the chief’s pocket, and the hawk perched on his shoulder. The turtledove said to the chief: ‘‘If you save me from the hawk, you will have all that you desire on earth.’’ The hawk said to the chief: ‘‘If you hand the turtledove over to me all of your sterile wives will have children.’’ The chief sat, perplexed. He didn’t know what to do. Meanwhile, a group of children came and sat next to him. One of them, who had noticed his demeanor, asked him point-blank: ‘‘How can a hawk perched on your shoulder make you so perplexed?’’ The chief explained his predicament to the children. 102 Alain-Joseph Sissao (Translated from the French by Nina Tanti) Another child made the following suggestion to the chief: ‘‘Ask the hawk if he prefers to eat meat, or a turtledove!’’ When the chief asked the hawk the question, he replied that he felt like eating meat. So the child told the chief to have a ram killed, to cut it up, and to give it to him. The chief did this. When he had eaten his fill, the hawk said to the chief: ‘‘Look! Your well that is situated behind your courtyard will never dry up. If you drink its water, you will have many children.’’ After the hawk left, the turtledove came out and said to the chief: ‘‘God willing, everything that you desire on this earth, you will have.’’ She also left. So in this tale, the child is the one who finds the answer to the chief’s problem. This teaches us that when old people speak, children must also be allowed to have their say. ...


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