Narrated by Mohammed Kuyu
Once there was a very wise old man called Robele Megerra.
One day he saw two dogs that were fighting. They belonged to his neighbours and he said, “Listen. Somebody separate those two dogs otherwise the boys will begin fighting.”
Everyone laughed and just ignored him but a few minutes later one of the boys from one of the houses came out and saw the dogs fighting. He struck the other dog with a stick. At that moment, the neighbour’s son was coming out and he saw his dog being struck by a stick.
So he said, “How dare you strike my dog?”
And the two boys began fighting.
Robele Megerra saw this, and he said, “Stop those boys from fighting. Otherwise their mothers will start fighting.”
Then soon enough one of the mothers came out of her house and she struck the boy who was beating her son.
Then his mother came out, and she said, “How dare you strike my son?”
And the two mothers began fighting.
Robele Megerra looked across and he said, “Stop those women fighting otherwise their husbands will soon start fighting.”
Again everyone ignored him, but soon one of their husbands came out and he saw his wife being beaten and he hit the woman who was beating his wife.
At that time the other woman’s husband came out and he saw his wife being struck by a man and he began fighting.
And the old man said, “Stop those men fighting, otherwise their clans will begin to fight.”
Still everyone ignored him and the clans soon began a small war between them. In that war, eight men died on each side. Then the elders were called to resolve the conflict. Now, according to the tradition, when one man dies, you either have to kill another man from the other side or else pay a hundred cattle.
So the elders sat down at the traditional court called the Guma, and they said, “Look, if you’re going to exchange a hundred cattle for each man killed, that’s going to be eight hundred cattle from one side and eight hundred cattle from the other side. One thousand six hundred cattle will mean that all the cattle have gone. Then if you’re going to kill eight men from this side and eight men from the other side, that means that another additional sixteen men will be killed. And that will mean we’ve lost thirty two men and that’s a great loss to everybody. Therefore we really don’t know what we should do.”
At that time a wise old man was passing by, and he was a crazy wise old man, and he said, “Listen, what’s your problem with all this?”
And they said, “Look, we have a big problem with all this. First two dogs fought, and then after the two dogs fought, two boys fought, who were the owners of the dogs. And after that the mothers of the two boys began fighting. And after their mothers began fighting, then the husbands began fighting. Then after their husbands began fighting, there was a small war between the two clans and now sixteen men are dead, eight from each side. Therefore, we’ve come to the elders and the elders really don’t know what to do, because either we’ve got to pay a hundred cattle for each man killed, or else we’ve got to kill a man. This means that we either have to pay 1,600 cattle or a else sixteen lives will be lost.”
And the wise crazy old man listened to all of this and he said, “Listen. If you pay eight hundred and eight hundred cattle this means that you’ve got to pay 1,600 cattle and that’s a great loss to you. And if you kill eight men from each side that means you all are going to lose another sixteen men in addition to the sixteen men who died. That means thirty two men. And that’s a great loss to you. Therefore let me give you all this solution."
And they all said to him, “Yes, what’s your solution?”
And he said, “What I want you all to do, is to take a silver metal necklace from both the tribes (this is traditionally called a meta) and to throw it in the water. Then let bygones be bygones. And forgive each other.”
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