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Goroba-Dike


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(Fulbe/Mali)

Goroba-Dike was a mythic hero.

Goroba-Dike, a younger son and therefore with no inheritance, wanders about Bamana country in a destructive mood. Finally, under the influence of his griot, he goes to the country of Hamadi Ardo, where he disguises himself as a peasant and works for a blacksmith. Kode Ardo, the daughter of the king, is sought after by many men, but she will marry none but the one whose finger her tiny ring will fit, the finger of a true Fulbe. All men try, but it will fit none. Then the ragged Goroba-Dike tries, and it fits. But this is not what Kode Ardo had hoped for: she despises him because of his poverty and his appearance. In the meantime, Hamadi Ardo is warring on armies of cattle-raiding Tuareg, and all his men go to war, including the disreputable Goroba-Dike. Instead of mounting a hero's steed, he gets on a lowly donkey and rides off in the wrong direction. All jeer at him, especially his wife and the blacksmith for whom he works. But when he arrives in the thick of the battle, he is magnificently transformed: he becomes a splendid fighter on a horse, and no one knows him. During the battle, he helps the king's sons-in-law who are in distress, but only if each will give him an ear in payment. Reluctantly, they agree to do this. Then Goroba-Dike transforms back into the peasant on the donkey; his wife is ashamed, and the smith scorns him. This pattern continues until the enemy is defeated. At one point, Goroba-Dike's wife is being kidnapped, and he is wounded as he rescues her. Not knowing his identity, she bandages his wound with a part of her dress. Later, he produces the ears to disclose the real hero, and produces the dress fragment to reveal to his wife who saved her. The smith is punished, and Goroba-Dike becomes the king.

Subjects: Religion.


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