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Zobeyo Mebe'e and the Forbidden Basket


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(Bulu/Cameroon)

Zobeyo Mebe'e is the creator.

Long ago, Zobeyo Mebe'e had four sons, Man, Dog, Sheep, and Rooster. All four of these sons stayed at home a long time without getting married. Rooster said, “I have lived as a bachelor long enough. I shall go and hunt for goods with which to get married.” His father sent him to get kola nuts from Nkpwaevo. Nkpwaevo put kola nuts into a basket, along with a hen. He told Rooster not to open the basket. Rooster gave his father the kola nuts; then, in the house, his father untied the basket and put the hen on the ground and told Rooster, “There is your wife.” Rooster took his wife, and they lived just behind the houses. Then Dog told his father that Rooster never worked, that Dog did all the work, yet his father did not help him to get a wife. So he set out to hunt for goods to get married. Zobeyo Mebe'e said the same to him as he had said to Rooster. Dog went and got a wife from Nkpwaevo in the same way as Rooster had done. Sheep did just as Rooster and Dog had done; he got a wife in the same way. At last Man came to Zobeyo Mebe'e and said that he was the oldest but still had no wife, although he did much work for his father. So he set out to hunt for goods to get married. Man, the son of Zobeyo Mebe'e, also arrived at the village of Nkpwaevo and gave him the message Zobeyo Mabe'e had sent him. Nkpwaevo loaded up and tied the basket, and besides the few kola nuts he put a woman into the basket. He warned the man not to untie the basket on his way home. After he had gone some distance, Man wondered what was in the basket. He untied the basket, and a young woman jumped out and ran back to Nkpwaevo. Man went home to his father, Zobeyo Mebe'e, and told him what he had done. His father said that he must start all over again. So Man again hunted for goods to take to Nkpwaevo as a dowry for his daughter. Not until after he had paid the full price of the dowry was he able to marry a woman. It is for this reason that men now always have to give goods as a dowry to marry a woman. It is because this first one acted foolishly and was unable to endure the heavy load. The dog and the rooster and the sheep do not give a dowry for marriage; they marry without giving any goods, because they did just as Nkpwaevo had told them.

Subjects: Religion.


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