THE DANCING PALM TREE
The dancing palm tree
once upon a time tortoise found that he could not get enough food to eat. He lived near a market but of course he had no money. He thought that there must be a way to get some of the food for him.
At last he figured out a fine plan. When everyone had gone to market, tortoise crawled to a certain palm tree a hundred meters or so from the open market. Clumsily he wedged himself into a hole near the foot of the tree, safe inside, he began to sing.
"Dance, palm tree, dance,
Dance all the way around
Dance, palm tree, dance
Dance all the way around
now tortoise was a wise creature with special magic powers. As soon as the palm tree heard the song, it picked up its roo and began to whirl down the forest path to the market.
Imagine the surprise of the traders, shopkeepers, hawkers, sellers and buyers when they saw a palm tree dancing towards them. At first they stood amazed: "what is this? A dancing palm tree? This has never happened before!" they waited curiously to see what would happen. But as the palm tree came closer, one man exclaimed, "This is something strange. I'm getting out of here!" and he began to run.
then everyone began to run here and there- mothers looking for their crying children, wives looking for their husbands. In a very short time the market-place was empty. But in their haste the people had left behind corn, yams, cassava, palm oil and all kinds of good things. When the market place was completely quiet, tortoise ordered the palm tree to stop dancing. The he crawled out very slowly and went around the market gathering up the things he liked and storing them in the palm tree. When he was quite satisified with what he had collected, he wedged himself back into the hole near the front of the palm tree and commanded the palm tree to dance back to its place in the forest. Tortoise waited until dark and then crawled home with the foods.
for four market days the dancing palm tree came, filling the people with terror. The people sent delegations to the oba, the chief of the village, but he laughed at their story. When his trusted adviser came running and pantings to the palace on the fourth market day to confirm the story the market people had told, the king decided to see for himself.
when the time came and went and the dancing palm tree did not appear, the delegates and the king's adviser trembled, fearful that the tree would not appear at all, and that the king would account them liars. Just before high noon, however the dancing palm tree whilred into the market-place. The people who were shopping ran away; the king's messengers ran away; the king's adviser ran away; all the king's guard ran away. But the king himself was very brave. It was unthinkable for a king to run. He stood still as the dancing tree moved closer, and closer, and closer, trying his best to hold onto his courage. Neverthless, when the palm tree was very, very close, he just could not stay there any longer. Truly he had never seen anything like this in his life before. And so he ran. He ran as fast as hed had never run before. He lost his crown and his shoes and his sceptre, and he arrived at the palace wearing only a single robe. Everyone in the village was suprised to see the king running like a thief.
The next morning the king assembles the wisest men and magicians in his kingdom and he told them that he would give half of all he possessed to the man who could solve the problem of the dancing palm tree. Now, all the wise men had heard about the dancing palm tree but there was only one of them- and old man with much experience- who was willing to undertake the task.
The old man set to work and made sigidi, a seated image of man from clay. It looked very real. Then the wise man painted sigidi with a sticky substance. When the next market day came, the old man went very early to the market- place, left sigidi in the centre of the market and hid himself near the top of a tall tree where he could see everything that happened.
As usual, the palm tree danced into the market-place. As usual, everyone fled, except sigidi. Tortoise looked at him suprisingly. He hesitated for a moment. Then he went up to the man.
"look here," he said, "who do you think you are?" the man said nothing.
"if you don't answer me, i will slap you!" tortoise threatened. Still the man said nothing.
whap! Tortoise gave the man a hard slap on the right cheek and tortoise hand stuck fast to sigidi.
"You! What do you think you are doing? Let me go! Let me go, or i will use my left hand and give you a harder slap."
sigidi said nothing, so whap! Tortoise gave the man a hard slap with his left hand, his left hand stuck fast.
"Now listen to me," said tortoise. "This has gone far enough. Let go of my hands or i will kick you with my right foot". Whap! He kicked with his right foot and his right foot also stuck fast.
"This is serious," thought tortoise in despair. "How am i ever going to get away from this man?
"please let me go," he begged. "I am sorry i spoke to you like that, but please let me go."
At this point, the wise old man came down from the tree where he had been hiding.
"Aha, tortoise! Now, i have caught you." he pulled tortoise loose from the sticky image and took him to the king who, you can be sure, punished tortoise severely for his trickery.