The Happy Man
Many, many years ago in north Africa there lived a chief. He was very rich and had many wives and children, but he
was not very happy. He thought: "I have everything, but that does not make me happy. What must I do to be happy? I
do not know."
Once he shouted angrily to his servants: "Why can't I be happy? What must I do to be happy?"
One of his servants said: "Oh, my Chief! Look at the sky! How beautiful the moon and the stars are! Look at them,
and you will see how good life is. That will make you happier."
"Oh, no, no, no!" the chief answered angrily. "When I look at the moon and the starts I become angry, because I
know I cannot have them."
Then another servant said: "Oh, my Chief! What about music? Music makes a man happy. We shall play to you from
morning till night, and music will make you happy."
The chief's face became red with anger.
"Oh, no, no, no, no!" he cried. "What a silly idea. Music is fine, but to listen to music from morning till night, day after
day? Never! No, never!"
So the servants went away, and the chief sat angrily in his rich room. Then one of the servants came back into the
room and made a bow.
"Oh, my Chief," he said, "but I think I can tell you something that will make you very happy."
"What is it?" asked the chief.
"It is very easy to do," said the servant. "You must find a happy man, take off his shirt and put it on. Then his
happiness will go into your body and you will be as happy as he!"
"I like your idea," said the chief. He sent his soldiers all over the country to look for a happy man. They went on and
on, but it was not easy to find a happy man in the chief's country.
But one day the soldiers found a man in a small village who said, "I am the happiest man in the world." He was poor,
but he always smiled and sang. The soldiers brought him to the chief.
"At last I shall be a happy man!" said the chief and took off his shirt at once. "Bring the man in!"
The door to the chief's room opened. A small, dark man with a happy smile walked in.
"Come here, my friend!" said the chief. "Please take off your shirt!"
The little smiling man came up to the chief. The chief looked at him and saw - what did he see? The happy man, the
happiest man in the world, had no shirt!
The Fire Festival
Long, long ago the chief of the Dagomba people had a son. He loved the boy so much that he could not sleep if the
boy was not near him at night. One evening the chief sat under a big tree near his house. Some Dagombas sat
around him. That night was warm and there was no rain. One could hear the tom-tom of the drums. Children sang
and danced near them.
"Life is good," the chief said. And the people clapped their hands. The Dagomba people always clap their hands
when they agree with somebody or something.
Then the chief's wife came up to the chief and said, "Oh, Chief, it is time for our boy to sleep."
"But he is with you, in the house," the chief said.
Isn't he here, with you?" the woman asked.
"Woman, I tell you, he is not with me. Go and look for him."
"Oh, my dear Chief," the wife said sadly. "He is not in our house."
The chief stood up quickly and cried, "Stop the dance! Let the drummers go and drum asking for my son."
In a minute the drums began their talk. "The Chief's child is lost," they said. "Who finds the child must bring him to the
All the people ran from place to place and looked for the boy. But they did not find him. The Chief was very angry. He
said, "All my people must help to find the boy."
And the people looked and looked for the boy. They were looking for the boy for many hours. Then a man cried out:
"Here he is!"
The Chief came up to the man. There, under a tree on the grass, the boy was sleeping.
"Get up, my dear," the Chief said to his little son. But the boy did not hear him. "Get up," said his father again. Then
the boy opened his eyes.
"Father," he said and got up. And they walked off together. The Chief was very happy.
The drums began their talk again. "The Chief's son is here! The Chief's son is here!" they said.
Then the chief looked back angrily at the tree: "Burn that tree! It hid my son from me!"
And the Chief's servants put their torches to its trunk and branches. The tree began to burn and soon fell on the
At the same time the happy father went home with his son. The people ran after them with songs and dances.
From that day on every year in July, the Dagomba people have their Fire Festival. The chief goes out of his house
and the people light their torches. They begin to dance and put their torches to tree trunks. But today they burn only
two or three branches, and not the whole tree.
Which is Better?
There was once a man who had three sons, and all of them loved the same girl. Each of them asked the girl the
same question, "Will you marry me?" All of the were clever, handsome, and strong. The girl liked each of the three
young me very much and could not decide which of them was the best.
One day the father of the three brothers said, "Here is some money for you. You will go on an long travel. While you
are traveling, you must look for a very, very useful thing. When you find it, you must buy it and bring it home."
The three brothers traveled for a long time, and they bought three very useful things.
The first young man bought a magic carpet. On it he could fly to any place in no time. The second brother bought a
magic looking-glass. When he looked into it, he could see anyone and everything that he wanted to see. The third
bought a magic lemon. The juice of that lemon could make a dying man or woman well again.
The three brothers came together and showed their things to one another. Then one of them said, "We are far from
our home and from our dear girl. Let us look into the looking-glass and see her."
The second brother took out his looking-glass, and they all looked into it. They saw that the girl was very ill. Then the
first brother asked the other brothers to sit down on his carpet, and all of them were at the girl's house in no time.
The third brother cut his lemon and gave the juice to the girl. The girl drank it, and she was well again.
The young men were very happy.
"Now which of us will you marry?" they asked the girl.
"I thank you all, my dear friends," answered the girl. "One of the brothers saw me in his looking-glass, and that
helped to save my life. His looking-glass is a very useful thing, and he will have it forever. Another brother brought all
three of you here on his carpet, and that helped to save me, too. It is also a very useful thing, and he will have it
forever. And one of you gave me the lemon juice, and now I am well again. But he has no lemon now. He gave all he
had to save me. I will be his wife."
And the other two brothers said, "Yes, the girl is right."
Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky
Many, many years ago the Sun and the Moon lived together on the earth. Water was their best friend, and they often
came to see him. But Water never went to see the Sun and the Moon in their house.
"Why don't you come to see us?" the Sun once asked him.
"I have too many friends," Water answered, "they will come with me. I am afraid there will be no place for them in your
But I shall build a new big house," the Sun said.
And the Sun built a very big house and then asked Water to come to him. Water came with all the fish and water
"May I come in with all my people?" Water asked.
"Yes, come in," the Sun said.
Very soon Water in the house was knee-deep for the Sun.
Then in a minute Water was up to the Sun's head, and came higher and higher with all the fish and water animals. At
last Water was so high in the house that the Sun and the Moon went on to the roof and sat there. But soon Water
came up on to the roof. What could the Sun and the Moon do? Where could they sit? And they went up to the sky.
They liked the place and began to live there.
Why Fire and Rain are Enemies
Once upon a time there was a chief who had a beautiful daughter. Many young men wanted to marry her, but the
chief thought: "They are not very good for my daughter."
Fire and Rain wanted to marry her, too. Rain came to the chief's daughter and said, "Will you marry me, oh daughter
of the Chief?"
"Yes, I will," said the girl.
At the same time Fire came to the chief and said, "I want to marry your daughter. Will you give her to me for my wife?"
The chief said, "Yes, I will."
The the chief sent for his daughter and said to her, "My dear daughter, you will marry Fire. I gave him my promise."
"Oh, Father," said the girl, "I cannot marry Fire, I must marry Rain. I gave my promise to him."
"What shall we do?" cried the chief. "You cannot marry both Fire and Rain."
The Fire and Rain came to the chief and his daughter. The chief said to them: "Tomorrow will be the day of my
"To me?" asked Fire.
"To me?" asked Rain.
"To the winner of a race. To him I will give my daughter."
On the day of the race many people came to the town. They all wanted to see the race. Some of them said, "Fire will
win." Others said, "Rain will win."
But the chief's daughter thought: "I want to marry Rain."
The day of the race came. When it was time to begin, the drummers beat the drums. The race began. The wind
helped Fire to run very quickly. But where was Rain? Nobody saw him. The people cried: "Look, Fire is quite near the
But the Rain began to fall from the sky and put out Fire. So Fire could not finish the race. The people cried: "Rain,
Rain is the first!"
So the Chief gave his daughter to Rain, and they were very happy.
And from that day on, Fire and Rain are enemies.
The Two Friends
Once there lived two girls who were friends. They loved each other dearly. They bought the same dresses, they ate
the same food, they went together to bring water from the river. People always saw them together and said, "What
good friends they are!"
But one day a young man said, "You say those two girls are good friends. I am not sure about that, I shall try to find it
The next day the young man stopped the two girls in the street.
"Good morning," he said. "I want to speak to one of you."
"No, you cannot do that, we are friends, and you must speak to the two of us together."
"I do not want to speak to the two of you. I sahll speak to only one of you. Then the one to whom I speak can tell what
I say to the other."
And he whispered to one of the girls: "You, you, you, you. Do you hear me?"
The girl answered, "Yes."
The young man went away.
"What did he say to you, my dear?" the second girl asked.
"Oh he whispered nothing to me," said the first girl. He whispered you, you, you, you...
"What about me, me, me, me...?" the second girl asked.
"But it was not about you. It was only you."
"But you said yes to him! You do not want to tell me everything!"
"I tell you that it was only you!"
"Well, and what about me?"
"Oh you silly girl! I tell you he said only you!"
"So you do not want to tell me everything, and I am your friend! No, I was your friend, but I am not any more!"
"Well, I do not want to have such a silly friend!"
"You are a liar!"
"I am not. But you are very, very silly!"
Then one girl went to the right and the other went to the left. They did not even say good-bye to each other.
That was the unhappy end of their long friendship.