Master of the Tormented Fiddle
Folklore story from West Africa, the Master of the Tormented Fiddle teaches you cannot possess and control what you stole.
Famine forced Deer one day to abandon his land and seek out much needed work in another part of the country with his cousin.
When he had worked for quite a while, he wanted to return home, as payment for his cousins hospitality he gave him a fiddle and a bow and arrow and told him that with the bow and arrow, he could hit and kill anything he desired, and with the fiddle, he could force anything to dance.
When Deer's cousin, Money was returning home after saying goodbye to his cousin, the first person he met was Wolf.
Wolf told him all the gossip and news and that he had since early morning been attempting to stalk a buffalo, but all in vain.
Then Monkey laid before him all the wonders of the bow and arrow that he carried on his back and assured him if he could but see the buffalo he would kill it for him. When Wolf showed him the buffalo, Monkey was ready and quickly killed the buffalo.
They ate a good meal together that night, but instead of Wolf being thankful, jealousy rained and he begged for the bow and arrow.
When Monkey refused to give it to him, he threatened to kill him.
So when their friend Jackal passed by hearing the argument, Wolf told him that Monkey had stolen his bow and arrow.
After Jackal had heard both of them, he declared himself unqualified to settle the case alone, and he proposed that they bring the matter to the court of Lion, Tiger, and the other animals. In the meantime, he declared he would take possession of what had been the cause of their quarrel, so that it would be safe, as he said.
Monkey's evidence was weak, and to make it worse, Jackal's testimony was against him. Jackal thought that in this way it would be easier to obtain the bow and arrow from Wolf for himself.
And so, Monkey lost the case.
Theft was looked upon as a great wrong and Monkey was sentenced to hang.
Monkey received as a last request before death from the court the right to play a tune on the fiddle.
He was a master player of his time, and in addition to this came the wonderful power of his charmed fiddle. Thus, when he struck the first note, the court began at once to show an unusual and spontaneous liveliness, and before long the whole court was dancing like a whirlwind.
With his head placed lovingly against the instrument, and his eyes half closed, he played on, keeping time ever with his foot.
Wolf was the first to cry out in pleading tones breathlessly, “Please stop Monkey! For love's sake, please stop! I cannot stop dancing! My body is about to split in two! Please stop!"
But Monkey did not even hear him, he keep playing the resistless music from his fiddle.
After a while, Lion showed signs of fatigue, and when he had gone the round once more with his young lion wife, he growled as he passed Monkey, “My whole kingdom is yours, Monkey, if you just stop playing!"
“I do not want it," answered Monkey, “but let Wolf acknowledge that he stole my fiddle and bow and arrow from me!"
“I confess, I confess!” cried Wolf, while Lion cried, at the same instant, that he withdrew the sentence.
Monkey gathered up his fiddle, bow and arrow, and seated himself high up in the nearest thorn tree.
The court and other animals were so afraid that he might begin playing his tormented fiddle again that they hastily ran away to new parts of the world.
About African Folklore
Folklore storytelling is the most ancient art form of the African Community.
Time and effort must be given to becoming an African folklore storyteller, just as any artist must give time and effort to developing their skill.
African folklore is as old as Africa herself with a deep appreciation for antiquity expressed in artistic form.