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Short story: How a hunter discovered palm wine

BY: Junior Graphic

 A very long time ago, there lived a brave hunter.

He also practised subsistence farming so his family never lacked anything. They always had food and meat to eat and the hamlet he had built for his family was the best in the town, although it was a bit isolated from where the rest of the village folk lived.

Due to his bravery, he always went deep into the forest to hunt because he believed that the big and tasty animals could be found there.

As a result, when he went into the forest, he sometimes spent days or even weeks in order to have enough time to hunt the animals, kill them and smoke the meat before he returned to his village. He usually kept some of the meat for his family and sold the rest.

In those days, monkeys were the only animals he could not hunt because they behaved like human beings, and it was taboo in the village to kill such animals. However, the monkeys were the animals that gave the hunter many problems anytime he went on his hunting expedition deep into the forest.

They always acted like the hunter’s companion while he hunted, but they never helped him in any way. Rather, they would steal his water, meat and food from a small hut where he stayed in the forest.

He was irritated by their actions but was afraid to kill them because it was taboo. Sometimes when he slept in his small hut, they will knock on the door several times during the night and disturb his sleep.

Once when the hunter woke up from his sleep, he saw a gourd in front of his door.  He picked it up and examined what was in it for a while. It was a white liquid. He didn’t know what it was so he decided to taste it. It tasted very sweet and he drank some more. He put the gourd aside and lighted a fire to smoke the meat he had hunted. He planned to return to his village in the afternoon.

The drink was so sweet and irresistible that from time to time, he turned to look at it. Unable to control himself, he took the gouge and drank all the palm wine. “Aaa! What a sweet drink. I wonder who brought it here, or is it the gods who are rewarding me for my hard work?” he asked himself.

After some time, he started swaying from side to side as if he was moving to the rhythm of a song. When he finally fell down to sleep, there was a smile on his face. He felt really good.

The drink in the gourd was palm wine but the farmer didn’t know since he had not seen it before, and he slept because he had drunk into a stupor.

Meanwhile, the monkeys were hiding in the nearby trees so as soon as the hunter fell asleep, they came in their numbers and took him to their village, amid singing and chanting.

They took all his meat and other food items that he had brought to the forest. The monkeys also took his gun and destroyed it.

He tried several times to escape after he regained consciousness but each time he tried, they would catch him and beat him to a pulp. After several attempts and beatings, the hunter gave up and resigned himself to his fate.

After some days the monkeys became friends with the hunter and treated him well. They taught him how to tap palm wine and he realised it was the drink that he could not resist. They uprooted a palm tree and left it for days, pulled out the pith of the palm fronds and in a few days, fresh juice started oozing out of it.

They ate and drank together, but the hunter still wanted to return to his village, so he pretended to be happy while he devised ways to run away. Anytime the monkeys went out, they left one of them to guard the man.

One day, when the hunter woke up and saw only the monkey guarding him, he planned his escape. After he finished washing his face, he secretly mashed pepper in the rest of the water and gave it to the monkey to wash its face. After the monkey washed its face with water, it could not see anymore. It was even difficult to open its eyes. The monkey started making noise to alert the others. The hunter quickly took enough of the wine and packed his things and ran away.

He never returned to his small hut in the forest.  He went straight to his village. He had been away for about a month, the longest he had spent in the forest.

When he reached his village, it was a very big celebration because they thought he had died. The hunter narrated his adventure to the amazement of all. He taught the people in the village how to tap palm wine.

That is how the people in the kingdom discovered palm wine.

 

Lucky Nartey,

St Francis Demonstration JHS ‘B’

Hohoe, Volta Region.