A man at the checkout line in a neighborhood grocery store watched as the store owner talked to a little boy. The boy was admiring some fresh ripe tomatoes. The store owner asked if the wanted to buy some. The boy told him that he didn't have the money. "What you got to trade for it?" the man asked. Just this blue marble. The man said "You know I prefer red. Take the tomatoes and when you come back bring me a red marble." The boy smiled as he left with the tomatoes. The store owner's wife told the man watching how her husband help out two other boys who just don't have much. She said they always come back with a marble but it is never the right color." Years later the store owner dies and many people came to show their respects, including the man in the store that day. He noticed three well dressed young men hug the man's widow and then lean over into the casket. When it was the man's turn to speak to the widow, he reminded her of the day they met and the boy with the marble. She smiled and told the man that those were the three boys. "They came to settle their debt." she told him. He looked into the casket and between the man's folded thumbs and fingers were three of the shiniest red marbles he had ever seen. Moral: Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath.
A father and son loved each other very much. The father provided for his son's every need. The son loved to go to work with his father, who operated a drawbridge across the river. One Friday, the father picked up his son after school and took him to work as a surprise. As they walked passed the train station the son was very curious about all the people waiting on the train. The father set up a fishing pole for his son by the river as he went to clock in. The father told him he would come and get him so he could raise the bridge when the train came. The train whistle blew in the distance. The son turned to the window to tell his dad the train was coming. The father was not in the window. The son could hear the train running full steam ahead. He called to his father again, but his father didn't hear him. The train was very close and the bridge was still up. The son decided to push the emergency lever in the wheel and pulley box near the tracks. As the son was trying to reach the lever the father heard the train whistle. He went to the window to call the son. He glimpsed his son falling into the box. The ground began to shake as the train approached. The father knew he had to pick between saving this only son, and all the people on the train. With tears in his eyes, he pushed the button lowering the drawbridge crushing his son, but saving the passengers. He stood in tears watching as the train passed by. The passengers continued on their journey never knowing of the father's sacrifice.
On a walk in the woods, Anansi the spider finds a rock near the edge of the road. Now it was common to see rocks on the road, but his rock was covered in moss. Surprised Anansi said " My what a strange moss covered rock! No sooner than he said thoses words he feel fast asleep. After a few hours Anansi awoke, confused about why he was lying on the ground. He sat up and noticed the rock again, "My what a strange moss covered rock" he said again. And once again Anansi fell fast asleep. When Anansi awoke this time he never said a word. Instead he showed Ox the rock. Ox said "My what a strange moss covered rock!" While Ox sleep he went and stole Ox's yams. Next he played the trick on Elephant, and while he sleep he stole all of his bananas. All that day and the next Anansi tricked his friends and stole their food. Bush Deer watched all of this from the cover of the thick bush. When Anansi saw Bush Deer, Anansi remembered that he had a big supply of coconuts, and he loved coconut milk. Anansi lead Bush Deer to the rock, but Bush Deer pretended not to see the rock. Anansi point "what is that?" "I don't see anything." replied the Bush Deer. Anansi got angry and yelled "You are supposed to say 'My what a strange moss covered rock!" And Anansi hit the ground fast asleep. Bush Deer called all the animals who Anansi tricked and went they got back all he had stolen from them.
During the time when time was young, in the village of Bafoulabe two rivers flowed together, one blue one white. The river was a dangerous one, and the women were afraid to go to the river to wash and draw water because of crocodiles and other violent animals. One day as a pregnant woman came to the river to draw water, a hippopotamus appeared in the water near her. The hippo was unique. It was two toned, its body was gray, but its feet were white. It had a white streak on its face and its eyes were as golden as the sun. She was frighten by the Hippo, but the Hippo spoke to her calming her. He offered her and the village protection. The village was grateful for Mali, the bamanakan word for hippo. The woman gave birth to a girl and called her Sadio which means pure. As the girl grew she became very close to Mali. Sadio would spend hours at the river swimming with and jumping off of Mali. Over many years their friendship became love. One young hunter had fallen in love with the girl, but everyone knew her heart belonged to Mali. His anger grew deeper as he saw them together. So he plotted to kill Mali. Now without Mali to protect the villagers, the river once again became very dangerous. Sadio never married. To this day a statue stands in Bafoulabe in honor of Mali Sadio. Moral: The selfish actions of a single person bring pain and hardship on many others.
A hunter traveled many miles to a gathering where hundreds of birds held an annual meeting. The hunter requested that the birds give him one bird so he could make arrows. After much deliberation the birds agreed to give the hunter a wild turkey. The hunter killed the turkey and used its feathers to make the fletching for his arrows. As soon as his quiver was full, the hunter began shooting and killing all of the fine birds in the field. The great Eagle flying above the the hunter's arrows remarked to another escaping bird. "Our first mistake was the most tragic for us all. We should have never given up the rights of our brother Turkey. Because of our foolishness, we all perish." Moral: sacrificing the rights of others, may endanger your own.
There was a young man who never seemed to catch a break. Trouble followed the boy all of this life. Finally he set out to gain wisdom so his future would be bright. He asked the old sage who lived near his village what road should he take to gain wisdom and become wealthy. The old man told the youth, " Follow this road for a three day journey. It will lead you to the village of "Hakilobalia "(Want of Wisdom). In the village square there will be two huts very close together. In one of the huts is the wisdom and the wealth of the ancient kings of Segu. In the other door, death waits for those who enter. In front of the huts are two men. You may ask only one question to only one man. Beware, one man always speaks truth, the other always speaks lies. If you ask the right question your journey will end with a great reward." The youth thanked the sage and left. A week later the youth returned with a large caravan. He stopped to pay tribute to the sage for helping him find wisdom and wealth. He smiled and told the sage, "I asked the right question!" Question: What question did he ask?
A down on his luck fisherman on the Niger river found an Abdim's Stork trapped in a net, and set it free. Soon after his luck seemed to change. Days later be met a beautiful woman who became his wife. As a wedding gift she offered her husband "a piece of herself". Her gift was a new fishing net, she had crafted herself. The net was like nothing he had ever seen. The fish seemed drawn to the net. Soon he was known as the best fisherman on the river. He asked his wife to make him another net. Reluctantly she agreed, locking herself up in a straw hut. She warned him not to enter until she finished or his good fortune would end. He bought a second pirogue (boat) hired another man to fish the with the net. Soon his wealth doubled. Greedy for more, he asked his wife to make another net. She declined, he told her he could not love her if she did not make the net. She agreed and reminded him he was not to enter the straw hut while she worked. His wife worked in a small straw hut like the one her husband used when he was gone on fishing trips. Her husband grew inpatient and looked into the hut. There he found the bird he had saved weaving her own breast feathers into a fishing net. Seeing him the bird flew away. The fisherman never saw the bird or his wife ever again. Moral: The husband may be the head of a home, but the wife is the heart of a home.
There was a mother who had two sons. The eldest was evil and never learned the ways of his people. The youngest son learned the wisdom passed down from the ancestors. The youngest son spent many hours walking in the woods, learning lessons from the animals. One day as the sun was falling behind the mountains he saw a glowing light. He followed the light until he came to a small hut. Over the doorpost was a carving of a bird looking backward with an egg in its mouth. The boy knew it was the Adinkra symbol "Sankofa". He knocked and an old man with a long white beard opened the door. The beard seemed to shimmer against the old man's dark wrinkled skin. The old man invited him inside. "I have very liittle to eat" said the man. But he offered the boy a few roots to make a soup. The boy boiled the roots and thickened it with some bread he had in his robe. When the stew was ready, the old man said that he was hungry. The boy knew it was wise to honor his elders and shared his food. He even gave the old man the larger portion. The old man offered his straw filled mat to the boy to sleep on for the night. The boy refused, saying he could sleep on the floor, and the man should have the mat because he was older. In the morning the boy awoke up to find himself alone in the hut. By the door was a bag of money with a note on top. The note said the old man was named "Sankofa" a messenger from God. "Because of your patience and tolerance, I will reward you with gold and a new name." On the back of the note was a the symbol of "Akoma" the heart. Akoma quickly rushed home and told his family what happened. The older brother saw the gold he became jealous. The next day, he set out to find the old man. Just before dark he found the hut. Just like before, the old man offered the boy roots to boil for soup. The boy also made a thick stew. When the old man said he was hungry, the evil boy gave him the scraps after he had eaten. The older brother took the old man's mat and let him sleep on the floor. In the morning the boy searched for his bag of money. The note on top of the bag had the symbol of a yellow flowered plant. The note from Sankofa said, "Your name would now be "FoFo" because your heart is filled with envy and jealousy." He saw the bag by the door, and stuck his head in the bag looking for money. But inside the bag was a Sankofa, the mythical bird just like the one over the doorpost. The bird grabbed the boy's nose and turned his head until it faced backward. The evil brother came home with his feet facing forward and his neck facing backward just like the Sankofa. Many people laughed at Fofo. It was only Akoma who showed compassion and taught his brother the wisdom of the ancestors. Once the older brother learned the lessons he missed growing up, his head magically turned around straight. Moral; It is not wrong to go back after what is forgotten.
A young wife was upset because her husband no longer showed her the same affection as he did when they were first married. She asked the Marabout for a potion or amulet that would restore his love. He told her needed one ingredent that he didn't have, "the whisker given freely from a live lion." If she could get it, he would make her amulet. She left determined to get the whisker. Each morning she brought food to the lion. At first she set it at a far distance from his cave. But each day she moved a step closer. Over time she gained the lion's trust and he would come out and meet her at the mouth of the cave. The next day she asked the lion for a whisker. He laid his head on her lap as she cut one whisker with a pair of sissors. She thanked the lion and headed to she the Marabout. She have him the whisker and told the story of how she got the whisker. The Marabout took the whisker and placed it in the fire. He then turned to her and and said, "You do not need an amulet. Do for your husband as you did for the lion." She did and over time her husband's love returned.