Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Ghana: Our Stories /Our History: The Servant who was Always Grumbling…


The King of Koumassi’s servant was a grumbler. Every day as he went to work on his small plantation he complained about the way he had to toil for a bare living.

In fact the king was not a bad master to have. He knew his servant was always grumbling, but he also knew that he often sat in the shade in order to be comfortable while he thought of something else to grumble about. The life was not so hard as the servant made out. Nevertheless, the servant continued to think himself most unlucky.

One day while he was working on his land (and grumbling as usual) he saw , hanging from the a long chain from the sky, a big, copper, round-shaped boat which was coming slowly down. It landed on his field and a white boy jumped out of it. The astonished servant recognised the boy who was none other than the son of Niamie, the God (so the servant believed) above all gods.

The boy-God went up to the servant and said, “I have been charged by my Father to bring you to him. Come with me.”

So the two of them got into the copper boat and were immediately pulled up into the sky by the chain. They went up through some misty clouds into the clear blue above until at last they stopped in front of a closed door. The door opened, and they found themselves in a large square full of a chattering crowd of people. In the middle of the square, on a golden throne, sat a venerable old man gorgeously apparelled. He beckoned to the King’s servant to approach him, and said, “You do not seem satisfied with your lot in life or you would not be always grumbling. Look around you at these people and these houses, and you will see that families from all parts of the world are living in them. Choose one from among them.”

So, accompanied by a guide, the servant hurried through the streets of the town till he came to the large, comfortable houses of the rich people who did not have to work for a living. But he did not fail also to notice the humble dwellings of the poor folk who were living in huts and hovels, and in one of these the servant recognized his parents. This discovery was a great shock to him.

When they had been through all the streets, and seen all the houses and huts, they went back to where Niamie was waiting for them.

“Now you know you were born into a poor family,” said Niamie to the servant. “Those who are born poor remain poor. Though they make a lot of money they cannot keep it. Nevertheless, I am going to give you a present.”

And then Niamie ordered two bags to be brought in and siad to the servant, “The smaller one is for you, the other is for your master the King. But remember you mustn’t open your present until you have delivered my other gift to your master.”

The King’s servant was taken home alone in the copper boat in the same way as he had come. But as he was falling through space he thought to himself, “Nobody but me knows what has happened. I shall, accordingly keep the larger present for myself and hand over the smaller one to the King, my master.”

And this he did. He hid the bigger bag in a hole which he dug in his field, and he went to the capital of the country and presented himself to the kin, who received him with joy, and asked him to give an account of his wonderful adventure. In due course the servant handed his mater the smaller of the two bags, and the king was delighted to find it filled with gold dust and nuggets. But the lager bag, when the servant came to open it, was filled with nothing but pebbles.

I am sure, dear reader, you will appreciate that the moral of this little tale is that we should be content with what we have and bear in mind the say, “Too much is too much.” All the same, when thinking about this little tale, there comes the question, what would the king have said if the servant had given him the bag of pebbles as Niamie had told him to do? The king was delighted, we are told, with the bag of gold dust and nuggets. Would he have pleased with the pebbles or would he have given his servant a thrashing -and sent him away? Perhaps the servant came off best after all, though the poor, as Niamie had said, remained poor.

Credit: The above text is taken from ‘Odhams Child’s first Encyclopaedia in Colour’ by Odhams / Dated:1964

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