Märchen – Cameroon

There was a brother and sister who were left orphaned.

Before the mom died she told the daughter to take good care of her stubborn brother.

because he’s the one that will help her in the future

The siblings were left on the family ranch.

The girl went to work on the farm and boy burned the entire ranch, leaving them homeless.

The girl cried and wondered where they would live.

They went around town looking for a place to stay,

until they arrived at a chief’s house who allowed them to stay with him.

Girl went to the farm with the chief’s wife.

The boy played with the chief’s son.

The boy was playing with the prince when the prince pretended to pound him with the paddle.

Fearing to get hurt, the boy and girl ran away.

They went to an area where there was a river.

The sister carried boy in a tree.

The village people came to cut down tree.

A bird came to carry them one at a time but the boy refused.

They agreed to hang on to a wing.

As they were flying, the boy poked the bird in the eye with a nail.

They fell on an island with a killer lion.

At 6pm all the townspeople must go inside because that is when the lion feeds.

The king promised anyone who kills the lion will rule half the kingdom.

A woman allowed them to stay at her house.

One night, they woke up and the boy was gone.

The boy was burning stones and he threw the stones in the lion’s mouth.

The lion died and the boy put his shoe on the lion’s head, to show it was he who defeated.

Everyone on the island tried to fit the shoe, then the boy came and tried on the shoe.

It fit and he came to rule the kingdom, giving his sister a home.

Again, Ayee heard this story as a young child.  It is another one of the stories her uncle shared with her and her cousins growing up.  The tale is made for entertainment purposes to young audiences, namely young children.  The tale emphasizes loyalty to family, as well as such admirable qualities in a growing child: courage, trust, and devotion.  The ending of the tale is reminiscent of that of the timeless fairytale, Cinderella, in that the ‘perfect fit’ for a shoe is the determining factor for the “right person.”

Like the tale of Billy and the “Me Papa” marchen/chant, this story can also be found in the Cameroonian version of Arabian Nights.

Annotation: This tale can be found in its original form in

The Crystal World

J.G. Ballard

New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (1966)