The Spider, the Guinea-fowl, and the Francolin: A Hausa Folktale

Northern Nigeria (Hausa People)
General Location: Northern Nigeria (Hausa People) / Map data ©2018 Google

This folktale of the Hausa people tells the story of the spider, who managed to trick the Guinea-Fowl but not the Francolin. 

The Francolin asked the Guinea-Fowl to join her on a journey. But just then the Spider arrived, and said, “Come with me instead, I am going to visit my Mother-in-Law.” The Guinea-Fowl agreed, and they started to go to the town where the Spider’s parents lived.

While on the journey, the Spider said to the Guinea-Fowl, “See this grass? If, when we have arrived at the town, they bring us some ground-nuts, you come back here and get some of the grass so that we can roast them.”

“Very well,” said the Guinea-Fowl.

They went on, and as they were travelling, the Spider said, “There is a spoon, if, when we have arrived at the town they bring us porridge, you come back here and get the spoon so that we can eat it.”

Soon they arrived at the house, and porridge was made and brought to them, so the Spider said to the Guinea-Fowl, “Go, get the spoon and bring it.” As soon as she had gone to bring the spoon, the Spider ate up all the porridge except for a little bit, and when she returned, he said, “Oh, you Sluggard, you have been a long time going, the people have since come and taken away their porridge.”

Then he said, “But see, they have brought ground-nuts, get that grass and bring it here so that we may roast them.” So she went off to get the grist, and when she returned she found that the Spider had eaten up all the ground-nuts. He said, “You have been away so long that the People took away their ground-nuts.”

Next morning they said, “Now, we must go home.” So the Spider’s load was tied up, and that of the Guinea-Fowl also, and they hurried off on the road. Soon they came to the bank of a big river, and the Spider lighted a fire, and said, “Stop here, I am going over there, if you hear me fall into the water, you throw yourself into the fire.”

So he went on, and took a stone and threw it into the water. When the Guinea-Fowl heard this, she said, “The Spider is dead,” so she threw herself into the fire so that she also might die. Then the Spider came and pulled the dead Guinea-Fowl out of the fire, and plucked her feathers out of her body, and ate it. Then he took the Guinea-Fowl’s load, tied it on to his own, and went off home.

Some time afterward he went to the Francolin, and said, “Oh, Francolin, will you not also accompany me on a journey?” And when she had agreed, off they went.

As they were travelling they came to the grass, and the Spider said, “See this grass, if, when we have arrived at the town they bring us ground-nuts, you come back here and get this grass so that we can roast them.”

But the Francolin picked some grass on the sly and hid it.

Then the Spider said, “There is a spoon, if, when we have arrived at the town they give us porridge, you come back here and get the spoon.”

But the Francolin took it then, and hid it.

Soon they arrived at the town, and porridge was brought.  So the Spider said, “Go and get that spoon.” But the Francolin said, “Oh, here it is.” Then the Spider was very angry, and said, “Very well, take the porridge yourself and eat it.” So the Francolin took it, and ate all but a little bit which she gave to the Spider to eat.

Then ground-nuts were brought to them, and the Spider said, “Go and get some grass that we may roast them.” But she replied, “Oh, here it is.” Then the Spider was furious, and he said, “Take the ground-nuts and eat them.” But when the Francolin had eaten all but a few, the Spider snatched them away and ate the rest.

Next morning they said, “Well, we must go home,” so the Spider’s load was bound up for him, and the Francolin’s for her, and they took them and started off. Soon they arrived at the bank of the river, and the Spider lighted a fire, and said, “Stay here, I am going over there, if you hear me fall into the water, you throw yourself into the fire.”

So he went and took a stone and threw it into the water. When the Francolin heard this, she went and got one of the Spider’s long boots and put it on the fire, while she herself crawled inside the Spider’s load, and hid.

Soon the Spider came and marched in the fire, and took out the boot and ate it. “Well,” said he, “the Guinea-Fowl was certainly mere juicy than this Francolin.” So he took the Francolin’s load and tied it on to his own, and started off home.

Then the Francolin, who was inside, said, “The Spider is a fool, he has eaten his boot,” and when the Spider heard this he was so frightened that he ran away, thinking that he heard the Francolin’s war-drum beating.

When he returned home, he untied the load, and he had begun putting the contents into a calabash, when the Francolin flew out and settled on the Spider’s Wife’s head.

The Spider said to his wife, “Stand still, do not move,” and he picked up the wooden pestle to strike the Francolin, while on the Female Spider’s head, but the Francolin flew off, and the Spider missed him, but killed his wife.

The Francolin then settled on the head of the Spider’s son, and the Spider struck at him but killed his own son. Next, the Francolin settled on the head of the Spider’s Baby, and the Spider took the pestle and missed, and killed hit baby in the same way.

Finally, the Francolin settled on the head of the Spider himself. The Spider ran outside and climbed up and up a tree until he had come to the top, and then he bobbed his head so that he might throw the Francolin down and kill her, but she saved herself with her wings, and the Spider fell down and was killed.

Then the Francolin seized the Spider’s possessions, and went away.

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