Saturday, October 18, 2014

Instead of Mr. Hare, Mr. Tortoise is the Trickster

In the previous story, instead of Mr. Hare renaming himself "Everyone" in order to get all the food, it's Mr. Tortoise who does, and his misadventure is the reason he has a hard shell today.

African Spurred Tortoise
So the story goes that Mr. Tortoise, along with the animals of the jungle were invited to the sky to attend the wedding of Mr. Hippo's daughter who was marrying the son of the sky god. On their way to the sky (dispatched on a rainbow) Mr. Tortoise told all the animals that it would be a good thing to rename themselves with cool, funky names and impress the sky dwellers. For himself he picked, "All of you" but the other animals only laughed, seeing no cool point.

When the animals arrived in the sky, they were seated in special places, had their paws washed, and before long food was brought to them. The waiters said, "this is for all of you, enjoy." Excited, Mr. Tortoise ate and ate until his tummy stretched almost to the top of the sky. He did not permit the other animals to touch "his" food, reminding them how he had advised them to pick new names but being stupid, they had not taken his advice. The animals felt this was fair, indeed he had tried to help them. He consumed all the meat, fish, vegetables and fruits brought to him. Then he drank palm wine, and sat happily in his chair massaging his tummy.

When the ceremony came to an end, the other animals were very hungry and angry with the tortoise. Noticing that the tortoise was dozing, they left stealthily, and when the tortoise woke up, the rainbow was gone. He didn't know how to get down. So he sent a message to his friend, the fox, to ask the tortoise's wife to pile outside his hat mattresses so that the tortoise could jump from the sky and land on the mattresses without breaking his bones. Mr. Fox used the opportunity to deceive Mrs. Tortoise. Instead of mattresses, Mr. Fox told the wife to put outside arrows, spears, knives and all the sharp objects she could find. When time came for Mr. Tortoise to jump, he crashed badly into the sharp instruments and cracked his skin in so many pieces. The village witchdoctor tried to bind him but his skin never held together completely, it hardened into a shell, and that's why to this day the tortoise has a tough shell with bumps and scars.  

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