The African folklore story why the sea is salty explains the age-old question of how salt made its way into the seven seas.
Why the Sea is Salty
Fuma, queen of the sea, stole two magic millstones from her brother Prince Noka of the lakes and rivers.
Ordinary millstones grind corn into flour, but the Queens would grind out whatever the owner wished. However, Queen Fuma did not know how to make the magic millstones work. She tried and tried, but they would not stir.
"Oh, if I could only move the millstones," she cried, "I would grind out
so many good things for my people. They should all be happy and rich."
One day Queen Fuma was told that two strange women were begging at the shore to see her.
"Let them come in," she said, and they were brought before her.
"We have come from a land that is far away," said the stranger.
"What can I do for you?" asked the queen.
"We have come to do something for you," answered the stranger.
"There is only one thing that I wish for," said the queen, "and that is
to make the magic millstones grind, but you cannot do that."
"Why not?" asked the stranger. "That is just what we have come to do. That is why we stood at your shore and begged to speak to you."
Then the queen was a happy indeed. "Bring in the millstones," she
called. "Quick, quick!"
|Fuma is a wicked Queen|
The millstones were brought in, and the stranger asked, "What shall we grind for you?"
"Grind gold and happiness and rest for my people," cried the queen.
The women touched the magic millstones, and how they did grind!
"Gold and happiness and rest for the people," said the stranger "Those are good wishes."
The gold was so bright and yellow that Queen Fuma could not bear to let it go out of her sight. "Grind more," she said to the stranger. "Grind faster! Why did you come to my shore if you did not wish to grind?"
"I am so weary," said the stranger. "Will you not let me rest?"
"You may rest for a little while but not too long!” cried the
Queen, "and I mean no longer!
Queen Fuma said “Now you have rested. Grind away. You should be weary who is grinding out yellow gold!"
"She is a wicked queen," said the stranger. "I will grind for her no more! The stranger then began to grind out hundreds and hundreds of strong warriors to fight Queen Fuma and punish her for her cruel ways."
The millstones ground faster and faster. Hundreds of warriors sprang
out, and they killed Fuma and all her men.
"Now I shall be queen," cried the strongest of the warriors. She put the stranger and the magic millstones on a ship to go to a far-away land.
"Grind, grind," he called to the stranger.
"But I am so weary. Please let me rest," she begged.
"Rest? No. Grind on, grind on. Grind salt, if you can grind nothing
Night came and the weary stranger was still grinding. "Will you not let me rest?" she asked.
"No," cried the cruel warrior. "Keep grinding, even if the ship goes to
the bottom of the sea."
The stranger ground and it was not long before the ship sank to the bottom of the sea, and carried the cruel warrior with it.
There at the bottom of the sea are the two millstones still grinding
salt, for there is no one to say that they must grind no longer. That is
why the sea is salt.