The Princess Elephant's Tail

A Tale of Love, Courage, and Magic

In a small village, there lived a woman with three devoted sons who always strived to please her. As she grew old and feeble, the sons pondered how they could bring her the greatest joy. The eldest promised to carve a magnificent sepulchre in stone, while the second vowed to craft a beautiful coffin. The youngest, however, made the most daring promise of all: to retrieve the tail of the princess elephant and place it in his mother’s coffin.

Soon after their mother’s passing, the youngest son embarked on his quest, uncertain of where his journey would lead him. After three weeks of travel, he arrived at a small village, where he encountered an old woman who expressed surprise at his presence, for no human had ever set foot there before.

The Village of the Elephants

The old woman revealed that this village was home to all the elephants, and the princess elephant slept there every night. She cautioned the young man that if the animals discovered him, they would surely take his life. Taking pity on him, she concealed him within a large woodpile and advised him to wait until the elephants were asleep. Then, he was to walk boldly to the eastern corner, where the princess lay, cut off her tail, and return in the same manner, for any stealthy movement would alert the elephants to his presence.

The Daring Heist

As darkness fell, the elephants returned, immediately sensing the presence of a human. The old woman assured them they were mistaken, and the animals, appeased, ate their supper and retired to bed. In the dead of night, the young man emerged from his hiding place and strode confidently to where the princess slept. With a swift motion, he severed her tail and returned to the woodpile, clutching his prize.

At daybreak, the elephants stirred from their slumber, and one spoke of a dream in which the princess’s tail was stolen. The others, dismissive, beat him for his foolish thoughts. A second elephant, too, claimed to have had the same dream and was met with similar treatment. The wisest among them, however, suggested they investigate the truth behind these dreams. To their horror, they discovered the princess, still asleep, bereft of her tail. Rousing her, the elephants set off in pursuit of the young man.

The Magical Juju

As the elephants rapidly closed in on him, the young man cried out to his favorite idol, Depor, which he always carried in his hair, “O my juju Depor! What shall I do?” The juju instructed him to throw a tree branch over his shoulder, and as he did so, it grew into an enormous tree, blocking the elephants’ path. While the animals were occupied with devouring the tree, the young man continued his flight.

Once again, the elephants drew near, and the young man called upon his juju for aid. Depor advised him to toss a corn cob behind him, which instantly transformed into a vast field of maize. The elephants, undeterred, ate their way through the field, only to find that the boy had already reached the safety of his village.

The Princess’s Revenge

The princess, refusing to accept defeat, transformed herself into a beautiful maiden, carrying a calabash cymbal. She proclaimed that whoever could strike the cymbal with an arrow would win her hand in marriage. Many tried and failed, until an old man suggested that Kwesi, the one who had cut off the princess’s tail, could surely accomplish the feat.

Kwesi, summoned from the fields, successfully struck the cymbal and was wed to the princess, despite his reservations about her true intentions. On their wedding night, the princess transformed into an elephant, intent on killing her new husband. Kwesi, however, called upon his juju, which turned him into a grass mat, foiling the princess’s plans.

Determined to destroy Kwesi’s protector, the princess tricked him into revealing the juju’s location. As Kwesi slept with his head in her lap, she stole the juju from his hair and cast it into a raging fire. Kwesi awoke to find her once again in elephant form, poised to strike.

The Hawk’s Origin

In desperation, Kwesi cried out to his burning juju, which instructed him to raise his arms as if in flight. As he did so, Kwesi transformed into a hawk, escaping the princess’s wrath. To this day, hawks can be seen flying through the smoke of fires, searching for their lost juju, a testament to the power of love, courage, and the magic that binds them.

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