How a Man Became Unwitched

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In the land of the Gios there was a poor man named Keizoe. He was so poor that often his wife and children had nothing at all to eat, and although he had some knowledge of bush medicine and unknown person had witched his medicine powers, and good fortune was a stranger to the house of Keizoe.

A diviner lived in a town beyond the borders of Gio land, in what is now French Guinea, and Keizoe decided to travel there and seek the diviner’s advice. He journeyed from town to town for many days, through high forests and the mountains in the north, and in the course of time he reached the town he sought. The diviner was in his house.

“Wise man,” Keizoe said, “I come from a distant place in the land of the Gios. Some one there has witched me and my times are bad. My crops are poor and the prey of pigs, my children sick and grow thin; my house is old, and so am I. I wish to prosper and see my family grow fat, but everything I do is dust because someone has witched me.

“I will think on this,” the wise man said. “I will read the sands tonight and dream, and tomorrow I will tell you what to do; and to lend my magic strength you must bring me seven white kola nuts, seven mats, and seven chicken eggs.”

On the morrow Keizoe brought him all these things, and the Diviner said:

“If a man lives in one place and is unhappy, then he should leave and live in another place.” He gave Keizoe a cotton tree see, and a long stick with a short hooked limb at one end.

“Travel towards your village,” he said, “and perhaps beyond. Drag this stick behind you, and where it catches in a tree, or rock, or bush, there you must make you house and live.”
“Along in the forest with my small family?” Keizoe felt nervous when he thought of the great forest.

“This cotton tree seed will protect you,” said the Diviner. “Guard this seed, and keep it always with you, and fortune will be your constant guest. Build your house and live there with your family; you will prosper, and your family will grow fat.

Keizoe set forth towards his village dragging the hooked stick behind him. He walked for several days and reached his family and fared on for another week to rich abnd lonely lands, and in a certain place the stick hooked firmly to a tree.

“Zuon-mehn!” he cried. “I have arrived! Here is rich and abundant earth which no man owns, and also a pleasant stream. Let us build our house, and this land will be ours.”

The house was built; the children grew and other houses were built where they lived with their wives and husbands, and the place became a village and grew into a town. Today the place is called Zuen; it is a prosperous town and part of Boo-Quila Chiefdom.

When Keizoe died he was buried, and the seed of the cotton tree was buried with him in a pouch about his neck. A cotton tree grew from his grave, and the people of the town began to worship it for they believed that Keizoe himself was the spirit of the tree.

Even today this tree is given great respect, and no foreign tongue or dialect is spoken in its presence.

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