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Author of the Entry:
Aïcha Saïd Larissa, University of Yaoundé 1, email@example.com
Didymus Tsangue Douanla, University of Koblenz-Landau: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Daniel A. Nkemleke, University of Yaoundé 1, email@example.com
Elizabeth Hale, University of New England, firstname.lastname@example.org
Siddi Hamadou (Storyteller)
Age of Narrator: 59 (in 2019)
Social status: Commoner
Language of narration: Arab
Bio prepared by Aïcha Saïd Larissa, University of Yaoundé 1, email@example.com and Didymus Tsangue Douanla, University of Koblenz-Landau: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background*: Abéché, the capital of Ouaddaï Region, is located in south-eastern Chad and is surrounded by Sao and Chao. It is reported to have been the settlement of Ouaddai Muslim sultanate, before the 1912 French colonization. Tombs of former sultans can still be visible in the region. Abéché remains a pastoral economy where farming is the chief activity. Men dominate most sectors of the society and women handle family responsibilities like housework and childcare. In addition, they maintain nuclear families that practise polygamy and respect community elders. The patrilineal system of inheritance is significant among them. Oracular practices and divination, ancestor veneration, belief in spirits and ideas of fertility are invaluable to the Abéché.
Fuchs, Peter, "Nomadic Society, Civil War, and the State in Chad", Nomadic Peoples 38 (1996): 151–162.
Chad, everyculture.com (accessed: May 4, 2020).
In a very long distant past in Hadjarai in the Northern part of Chad, a basket-maker met Mr. Death, who was going to the market to sell his teeth. When Death realized that the basket-maker was lacking one tooth, he offered her a tooth, which she tried to fit in. Once she put the tooth in the hollow space in her mouth, it stuck and couldn’t come out. Death cried: “Give back my tooth”. The basket-maker tried in vain to remove the tooth. She promised to give Death a stable full of goats as compensation, but Death rejected this offer. She then proposed to offer him a herd of oxen, which Death turned down again. In the third offer, the basket-maker said “I will give you the most precious thing I have, that is, Kaikiyourou, my son. He is a brave hunter, who is very successful in hunting game with his seven dogs”. Death accepted this third offer. The arrangement was that Death would encounter Kaikiyourou, his gift, as the latter returned home from a hunting expedition on a specified evening. On that evening, Death stood on the way where hunters walk back home from hunting, waiting to see Kaikiyourou with the following song:
"I have offered the woman (Basket maker) my tooth and the tooth got stuck in her mouth. In compensation she gave a stable full of goats and a herd of oxen, which I refused. He offered me Kaikiyourou, the hunter, and she said he was a very brave hunter who would kill many games for me with his seven dogs."
The first hunters who heard him told him Kaikiyourou was not among them, and that he would come later. Death kept waiting until he saw Kaikiyourou coming with his seven dogs and a game on his shoulder. Death repeated the song above and when Kaikiyourou heard his name, he said: “I am Kaikiyourou”. Death said: “Put down your belongings and let us fight”. (The tricky thing here is that Death cannot own Kaikiyourou in his human form, Kaikiyourou must die to belong to Death). The fight began and Kaikiyourou overpowered Death. When Death felt his defeat he said to Kaikiyourou: “It is not right and just. We have to fight gently. Do not treat me violently”. The fight continued, and this time Kaikiyourou was overpowered by Death, who seized and strangled him by the throat. Kaikiyourou called four of his seven dogs, namely Kidabilbiljui, Kodokoussou, Dyindonafjui, and Bodomarjay who immediately rushed to his rescue and together they fought, defeated and killed Death.
As Kaikiyourou was about to go home, he was stopped by the spirit of Death. To prevent Death appearing to him in spirit again, Kaikiyourou burnt his corpse. After this he tried to go away and again he was stopped by a voice coming from the ashes saying: “You are going nowhere”. To this voice, Kaikiyourou poured water on the ashes until it was washed away completely, and he went back home this time successfully. While at home, Kaikiyourou met his mother, who was singing: “I am a queen. I found a tooth and I gave my son as compensation”. On hearing this song, Kaikiyourou gave a slap on her lips and the tooth fell out and disappeared.
This myth falls under what Weigel (2007: 15-6) categorizes as a folk or fairy tale or philosophical myth, which though it is overtly fantastical without any pretense to being factual, is a conscious and symbolic embodiment of an abstract idea. This myth also contains elements of another category, the heroic saga where a metaphysical hero or monster-slayer wrestles and kills a monster or supernatural adversary thereby making his society safer (cf. ATU Tales accessed August 6, 2021). The myth also teaches the young about how an exemplary man should live and about the tricky nature of death and the dangers of accepting gifts from strangers.
Uther, Hans-Jörg, The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography. Based on the system of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson. Part 1: Animal Tales, Tales Of Magic, Religious Tales, and Realistic Tales, with an Introduction, Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia/Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2004.
Weigel, James, CliffsNotes on Mythology, Harcourt: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.
Researchers: Aïcha Said Larissa and Didymus Tsangue Douanla
Assistant researcher: Seïd Houzibe (trans.)