A Tseeyi Story

How the Tseeyi Came to Live in the Forest Below the Mountain.

 

Long ago, the parents of the Tseeyi came from the west.  They were fleeing the evil people who wanted to eat them and make them slaves.  The parents saw the mountain from far away.  They said, “We will go to the mountain and ask him to hide us.” 

 

They came to the place below the mountain where the forest begins.  When they were sleeping, a Golden Cat came into the camp and found the Old Man.  He said to the Old Man, “Where are you going?"  The Old Man said, "We are going to ask the mountain to hide us."  The Golden Cat said, "You cannot go into the forest below the mountain. The Spirits that live in the forest do not like humans.  They will eat you.”  The Old Man said, “If the evil people find us they will eat us or make us slaves.”  The Golden Cat said, “Give me a piece of liver.”  The Old Man killed a chicken and gave him the liver.  The Golden Cat said, “Go alone into the forest.  Maybe you can talk to the Spirits.”

 

 

In the morning the Old Man went into the forest.  He had a knife, a bow, some boiled yams, a cola nut and a gourd of palm wine.  He walked into the forest until he was tired.  He sat down to rest.  Sitting in the forest he saw many animals.  He saw many trees with fruit and he saw wild yams.  The shade was cool. There were many streams.  There were many trees.  There were many, many good places to hide. He said, “This would be a good place to live.  The evil people would not find us here.” 

 

The Duiker saw the Old Man in the forest and came to greet him.  The Old Man picked up his bow very fast to shoot the Duiker.  The Duiker said to the Old Man, “Don’t kill me, Old Man.  I will tell you where to find the Spirits.”  The Old Man said “I will not kill you.  Tell me where to find the Spirits.”  The Duiker said, “Give me a drink of palm wine and a piece of cola nut.” The Old Man gave him a drink of palm wine and a piece of cola nut. “Go up the mountain until you find a large Lenge tree*.  Wait there. You will see the Spirits.” 

 

 

The Old Man walked through the forest.  He saw a large Lenge tree.  It was very big and very old.  The Lenge tree said to the Old Man, “Where are you going?”.  The Old Man said, “I am looking for the Spirits.  I want to ask them if they will hide us in the forest.”  The Lenge said, “The Spirits do not like humans.  They will eat you.”  The Old Man said, “If the evil people find us they will eat us or make us slaves.”  The Lenge said, “Give me some yams.”  The Old Man gave him some yams.    The Lenge said, “Wait here. You will see the Spirits.”

  

The Old Man sat down by the Lenge tree.  It was getting dark.  He picked up some wood to make a fire.  He pushed the bow very hard but the fire would not burn.  Just a little smoke came from the wood.  The Smoke said, “Old Man, what are you doing?”  The Old Man said, “I am pushing the bow very hard to make a fire, but it will not burn.”  The Smoke said, “Give me some cola nut.”  The Old Man gave some cola nut to the Smoke.  The Smoke said, “Make the fire.”  The Old Man made the fire.

 

  

It began to rain.  The Old Man moved the fire under the Lenge tree.  The wind began to blow.  The Old Man jumped high to be warm.  The Rain said, “Old Man, are you cold?”  The Old Man said, “I am cold.”  The Rain said, “I will show you a dry place.”  The Old Man said, “Where is the dry place?”  The Rain said, “Give me the fire.”  The Old Man moved the fire into the rain.  The Rain said, “Go inside the trunk of the Lenge.”  The Old Man crawled inside the trunk of the Lenge.  It was dry there.  The Old Man ate his yams and drank his palm wine.  When the rain stopped he went to sleep.

 

Late at night, the Old Man heard the sound of drums and gourd rattles.  The Spirits were dancing and singing by the Lenge tree.  He looked at the Spirits by peeking.  There was one large Spirit that had a face of stone.  There were Spirits that had faces of wood and tunics of leaves.  There were Spirits that had faces of animals with tunics of animal skin.  One of the Spirits had a face like fire. One of the Spirits had a face like water.

 

The Old Man listening inside the Lenge tree was very afraid.

  

The drums stopped.  The large Spirit with the face of stone said, “I am tired of seeing the same dances.  I am tired of hearing the same songs.  Who can dance a new dance?  Who can sing a new song?”  The Spirits looked at each other. 

 

The Old Man listening inside the Lenge tree was very afraid.

  

The Spirit with the face of a Golden Cat spoke first.  He said, “Spirit of the Mountain, we do not know a new dance.  We do not know a new song.  Maybe there is someone here who will dance a new dance for you.  Maybe there is someone here who will sing a new song for you.”

 

The Old Man listening inside the Lenge tree was very afraid.

  

The Spirit with the face of a Duiker spoke.  He said, “I have seen someone who is very fast to pick up a bow.  He can dance a new dance.  He can sing a new song.  Maybe he will dance and sing for you.”

 

The Old Man listening inside the Lenge tree was very afraid.

 

The Spirit with the face of Fire spoke.  He said, “I have seen someone who pushes a bow very hard to make fire.  He can dance a new dance.  He can sing a new song.  Maybe he will dance and sing for you.”

 

The Old Man listening inside the Lenge tree was very afraid.

  

The Spirit with the face of Water spoke.  He said, “I have seen someone who jumps very high to be warm.  He can dance a new dance.  He can sing a new song.  Maybe he will dance and sing for you.”

 

The Old Man listening inside the Lenge tree was very afraid.

  

The Lenge tree spoke.  He said, “There is someone very close who can dance a new dance.  There is someone very close who can sing a new song.” 

 

The Old Man listening inside the Lenge tree was very afraid.

  

The Spirit of the Mountain said, “Where is someone who can dance a new dance and sing a new song?” 

 

The Old Man became brave.  He came out of the Lenge tree.  He said, “Spirit of the Mountain, I will dance a new dance for you.  I will sing a new song for you.”

 

The Spirit of the Mountain said, “Come here and dance.  Come here and sing.” 

 

The Old Man started to sing.  He sang a new song.  He put his bow on his cheek and hit the string with the handle of his knife.  The Spirits drummed to his new song.  They sang his new song.  The Old Man started to dance.  He danced the best dance he knew.  He danced for a long time.  The drums stopped.  The Old Man stopped.

 

The Spirit of the Mountain said, “Old Man, why did you come to the forest below the mountain?  Do you not know that the Spirits here do not like humans?  We will eat any humans that come here.”  The Old Man said, “We are fleeing the evil people who want to eat us or make us slaves.”

 

The Spirit of the Mountain said, “The new dance you danced is good.  The new song you sang is good.  What do you want?”  The Old Man said, “My family want to live in the forest below the mountain.  We want to hide from the evil people who want to eat us or make us slaves.”

 

The Spirit of the Mountain said, “If you will sacrifice to the Spirits of Animals, and the Spirits of Trees, and Spirits of Fire and Water, and if you will sacrifice to the Spirit of the Mountain, you may live in the forest below the mountain.  We will protect you from the evil people who want to eat you or make you slaves.”

 

The Old Man said, “How will we sacrifice to you?” 

 

The Spirit of the Mountain said, “When you hunt the animals, give a piece of liver, and a piece of cola nut, and some palm wine to the Spirits of the Animals.  When you gather fruit, and roots, and wood from the trees, give some yams and some palm wine to the Spirits of the Trees.  Each year when the heavy rains begin to fall, let the Spirit of Water have all your fires.  When you start a new fire, give some cola nut to the Spirit of Fire.  Every time the moon is big, you will dance a new dance for me and sing a new song for me.

 

The Old Man said, “We will do all these things.”

 

The Spirit of the Mountain said, “It is good.  Bring your family to live in the forest below the mountain.  The Spirits will protect you from the evil people who want to eat you or make you slaves.”

 
That is how the Tseeyi came to live in the forest below the mountain.  That is why they sacrifice to the Spirits of the forest.