Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Old woman and the Well




This is the story of the Old Lady in the Well.

It tells of  an old woman who was a witch.  Now there were children living in the community who were frisky and wicked.  One day the children decided to help their mother by washing the dishes.  So the oldest daughter took the dishes to the well and in the process of washing the dishes, she dropped the cooks spoon down into the well.  So she was forced to go for the cook's spoon.  
While she was in the well she saw an old woman who had a sore on her foot.  The old woman asked for the girl to giver her care and she did so.  At the end she was going to go and the old woman said for her to go in there and you will see two boxes.  One of the boxes will say "Pick Me!  Pick Me!" Don't pick it.  One will say, Don't pick me!"  You should pick it. 
She went in there and the two boxes were speaking.  The one that said "Oh, don't pick me!", she picked it.  The old woman said to her "Good luck!  Because you have taken such good care of me, you are a good child, a submissive child and so you will eat of the fruit of the land."  So she left and went back to her mother.  The people had been looking all over for her and she told them when she went to wash the dishes, mistakenly she dropped the cook's spoon in the well.  So I had to go for the cook's spoon   When I went for the cook's spoon I met an old lady and I had to serve her and when I was done serving her, this is what she gave me.  She had a carton and when she opened it inside there was gold and money and riches.  The family was able to live comfortable.
Now another girl in the community saw how the family was living and decided to ask her mother to let her wash the dishes.  Now when she went to wash the dishes, she dropped the cook's spoon in the well.  When she went in the well to fetch the spoon, she met an old woman who asked her, "What did you come for?"
The girl answered that she was looking for her cook's spoon that had dropped in the well.  She said, "oh, ok.  Before you take your cook's spoon, could you please look at my foot?  I have a sore on my foot."
The girl said, "Look at you, old foolish woman.  So stupid.  You are old and smelly I do not want to give you care."
The old woman then asks the girl to help carry her water.
Again the girl replies, no that she will not help the old woman and that she just came for her cook's spoon.
The old woman asks the girl to just stay with her and after that one week, the girl begins to go.  The old woman says to her, "Do you see those two cartons there?  One will say 'Pick me!' and the other one says, 'Don't pick me'.  And when you go in there, the one that says "don't pick me', I want you to pick it."
So the girl goes into the room and when the carton said, "Pick me!" then she just grabbed it.  She carried it and when she got home to her mother, she told her what had happened.  She said, "This is what she gave me" and she opened the carton in front of people and the snake came, the cobra just came and grabbed everybody and killed them once and for all.
And the moral of the story is "Don't be envy"





Friday, August 3, 2012

It's been a crazy week since I returned home from Liberia and despite my plans, I have not had time to sit down and share more stories here yet.  I promise I will get them added- just be patient please!  In the meantime, I thought I would share some photos.
This is a man outside the "Furniture Factory".  Everywhere that a product is made or processed is called a factory.  They even have a "Cow Factory" which is really the slaughtering area!

The Coca-Cola bottling plant outside of Monrovia.

I found this small "store" outside of Careysville on our way to Firestone one day.  I had to chuckle!

This is the rubber plantation at Firestone.  It is the largest rubber plantation in the world at just over 7 million acres!  The rubber is collected in small cups that hang on the trees much like maple syrup is collected.

This is all that remains of the once great Hotel Africa which was a five star hotel in Monrovia.

This is one of the older filling stations.  The man in the background is dipping the one gallon jars into a larger container that are filled withe gasoline.  The man in the front then uses a funnel to pour the contents of the glass jars into your gas tank!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

video
This story was told in the Kru dialect by a dear woman named Annie.  Here is the story she is telling:

Turtle was a hunter.  He carried dogs to hunt for animals.
So one day while Turtle was out hunting, his wife delivered.  So they said, "The father is out hunting.  We need to go and call him."
Somebody decided to go and when he got there, he couldn't see Turtle.  He decided to yell, "Mr. Turtle, Mr. Turtle, you are out hunting and your wife delivered."
Turtle replied, "Oh! I heard that but the dogs that I brought to hunt went into the cave of rocks and I am trying to crack the rocks to get the dogs out. So I will tell you the name of the child so you can give to the child.  The name is to be Tapaneema."
They replied, "Yes, yes!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Now the work begins

I have returned to the United States (this is my 10 hour layover at JFK) and being a true geek, I have found a charging station and paid for internet so that I can catch up with all of the happenings that have taken place while I have been out of country.
Now the real work begins as I start to translate and transcribe the stories and edit the videos to prepare to post them on this blog.  I was able to collect stories in English as well as at least 3 dialects and from over many parts of Liberia.

It was a fascinating trip full of friends, food and great conversations.  The best part of this has been living in the community and learning so much about Liberian culture!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


This has been a busy week.  In true Liberian style, as I am preparing to return home in a few days, people have been coming to share their stories.  They tend to wait until time is running low before completing tasks!  This week I have been fortunate to be able to collect stories in both English and regional dialects that I will post when I return to an area with faster internet service.  Here we have only a dial-up speed service which makes loading photos and video nearly impossible.
The story below is from a local Physician’s assistant who is a longtime friend named Dennis.  It tells the story of a mouse who borrows money from a beaver with the promise to pay him back when Mouse gets big!
Also this week, we took my nephew Sawsee to the hospital with a fever of 105F.  They found he was suffering from malaria which is quite common here.  He stayed in the hospital for two days receiving an IV drip of medication.  While malaria is relatively common here, it is frightening to see it occur in such a young child.
I need to get busy as I have two more storytellers arriving late this afternoon to add to my growing collection!

“Trust Betrayed- The Story of Mouse and Beaver”
            Once upon a time, Mr. Mouse went and carried away some money (for) from a beaver.  So, you know mouse doesn’t get big.  He will always remain tiny, tiny.  So he went for this money, he told Beaver, “So look, in taking this money, when I get big, I will pay you.  Right now I have little problem in the home.  My whole family is sick and I need money.”  He was crying at the same time asking for this money.
            So Beaver agree to give the money.  He took the money he gave.
            After certain years, Beaver started looking for his money because he couldn’t get it.  Then he decided to pay a visit in the home.  So each time Beaver was going for his money and Mouse got this information, he would hide all his family because all of them the same size.  None of them big; all of them small in body.
            So Beaver used to go for this money up and down- can’t get the money be he always passing Mr. Crab in the town when going for the money.
            While passing for the second time, Mr. Crab asked him, “But Mr. Beaver, what reason for passing all the time?”
He answered, “One little boy in the town, he carried my money and he said when he gets big, he will pay my money.”
Crab said,” Who is that boy?”
He said, “The mouse.”
He said, Oh! But Mr. Beaver, don’t you know these people, they don’t get big?”  But go and ask for the Ma, the Pa, I mean, whosoever there.  Say I want to leave the money but I want to see all your family to tell then the good I have done for you.”
He said, “Ok.”  So he went that say.  When he look, Mouse came from the bush and started acting like a baby.  You know they are very tiny, tiny.
So Beaver said, “I have the mind to need the money.  Because of your size, you are small.  I know you don’t have it.  You have it when you get big but you never get big.  But what I want you to do please tell your Ma, father, everybody to come so I can tell them the good I have done for you.”
And he was so happy that he go call the family.  He invited his Ma, his pa- everybody looked alike.  So Mr. Beaver say, “You will pay my money today!  You know you don’t get big- but you fool me!”
He sat there for long, long.  “So, Mr. Beaver, who really told you this thing?  I know that Mr. Crab said this thing because you were passing through town.”
Beaver said, “Yeah.”
He said, “But Mr. Beaver the money I took of yours, I took the money I know but when I came, Crab got serious problem in his home.  I took the money, I gave it to him.  That box on his back?”  (You know the shell?)  He said, “There he put the money.  I not able to find a way to take it off so that the embarrassing part that I been facing.  Let me tell you the secret now since you won’t leave me in trouble.”
Mr. Beaver got vexed.  That is why when he see Crab he get rid the back, to get his money back from there.
So that’s what happened between the two of them.  Because he ran his mouth, he got in trouble with him.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I have now collected nearly a dozen stories.  There are more people coming this week.  My favorite has been about how people came to worship idols.  Here is an abridged version:

How People Came to Worship Idols
A man & his wife lived in a village.  The man was a fisherman and went out to the river fishing.  One day he caught an idol.  The idol told the man to create an instrument and play it.  While the man played, the idol would dance.   If the man tired first, the idol would kill him but if the idol tired first, the man could kill him.  So they began and after a few hours the man grew tired and the idol killed the man.
In the meantime, the man’s wife gave birth to a son.  When the son was five years old, he began to fish just as his father had done.  His mother begged him not to fish at the river because that was where his father had been killed.  But the son made a pole and began to fish the river.  After several years, the boy caught an idol just as his father had done.  Again the spirit said that they had entered into an agreement and taught the boy to build an instrument and begin playing.  After a few hours the idol began to get tired but the boy continued to play.  The spirit decided to force the boy to stop playing so he sneezed.  When he sneezed, dust blew up into the boy’s face but he continued to play and the smoke went away.  Then he sneezed again and the rain came and it rained very heavy but the boy still played and the rain went away.  Then the spirit sneezed again and saw a blaze of fire coming at the boy but he still played.  At last the spirit got very tired and he fell to the ground just moving his arms and his legs but the boy said, you are still dancing and he kept playing.  Then the spirit could only just move one arm and leg but the boy said you are still dancing and he kept playing.  Finally the spirit just lay on the ground exhausted and not moving. 
The boy cut off the spirit’s head and placed it in a box.  Then soon after, the boy began to have dreams and the spirit would say this will happen, and it did.  Then he would have another dream and the spirit would say this will happen, and it did.  Until after some time of this, the people began worshipping the idol.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Things have started to pick up with my story collecting as things are winding down after the two weeks of funeral activities.  I have several people from various areas in Liberia who are willing to sit and tell me stories.  I collected my first last night from a physician's assistant named Dennis.  It was a story about how people first came to worship idols.  He will be back tonight and I am sure will have more stories for me.  Another man from the northern border of Liberia will be here later this week to share his stories with me.  I am excited to hear how they differ from the stories in the southern area where my step-father and his friends are from.
I have also spent the last week learning a lot about Liberian culture. Today I had my hair plaited and learned to do laundry.  Laundry here takes all morning and is a grueling event.  I washed half the amount that Patient washed in the same time and hers was far drier before hanging out on the line!  You start with a tub the size of a baby pool and rub each item with bar laundry soap.  You then scrub one side of each item against the others.  A quick rinse in the wash water and then they are placed in the rinse bucket.  Clean water is poured over the top and they are wrung out before hanging on the line.  I have taken many pictures but I am unable to upload them due to very slow internet connection.  I am continuing to work on posting even a few.