GERALDINE SINYUY is a revered Cameroonian Scholar , an accomplished Writer and a prolific Storyteller . Sinyuy has recently published a sizzling , mind-boggling but blood ticking and immensely didactic collection of fairytales titled ,MUSIC IN THE WOOD AND OTHER FOLKTALES( Footprint Publishing ,Malawi, 2020). Her undertaking of this rare literary genre mesmerizes and as well boggles the mind of the modern reader. The telling or writing of fairytales by Sinyuy positively rekindles the flames of our ancient wisdom ,candles of our heritage and fires of our beautiful past. Fairytales play an integral role in retracing our African identity , wisdom , morality and ancient wisdom. The collection MUSIC IN THE WOOD AND OTHER FOLKTALES seeks to remind modern Africa of their rich cultural /moral past and as it exhibits the beauty of African traditions , identity and literary dignity . By writing this trendsetting gig of fairytales , Dr . Geraldine Sinyuy qualifies herself as an ambassadorial brand of African storytelling and cultural identity. She is our African story . Her beautiful but intriguing collection of stories is flighted on the digital walls of Amazon and other online bookshelves. I have included one story for your read in this profile exhibition . ALUTA CONTINUA- ( Blurb by Mbizo CHIRASHA).
THE SCRAMBLE FOR A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN
This tale was told to me by my great grandmother. She told me this when she was about one hundred and five years old. By then I was eight and not up to a year after she gave up the ghost. She instructed me never to repeat this tale until she was not more alive. Now, I am sixteen and I think it’s very right for me to tell it to the public without any fear.
“It was about 1592 B.C in the black continent when cars, ships, planes, boats, and motor bikes were not yet invented, travelling was very difficult. There were only a few camels, horses and donkeys which were used for transportation, and only the wealthiest people had these animals.” She told me with a dying voice as though something had blocked her throat. “This made travelling very difficult especially for the poor as they had to travel very long distances on foot. Whenever someone embarked on a long journey, it often took him or her several weeks before he or she could return home.
During this time, strange and mysterious things happened and no one could tell their origin. News spread out that there was a beautiful woman whose name was concealed and that any man who would guess the right name of the beautiful lady would own her for life. There were also some awards for the man who could guess the right name of the beautiful woman.
At that time, there was a rich man named Mr. Amadou who had a son called Musa. Musa had two wives, but none of them had borne him a child. He loved one of his wives very much and hated the other to hell. The woman whom Musa loved received more presents from him while the hated woman received very little presents and less attention from him. However, the hated woman could not complain about this kind of treatment which she received from her husband since she had no right to do so. If she did, everyone would tell her that she must have done something wrong to her husband and such treatment was her punishment for being a bad woman.
The day for the beautiful woman’s name to be guessed came and there was a lot of excitement all over the village. Mr. Amadou told his son, Musa, not to go to this place where the beautiful woman was. However, Musa was like his father who also desired to have the beautiful woman. When Mr. Amadou and his companions mounted their horses and made for the Beauty Palace where the occasion was taking place, Musa followed. He did not know the place, but he had seen the direction which his father and his companions took. He got on his horse and watched his father and his companions as they went. All Mr. Amadou’s companions were very wealthy men who also had many wives and their children were also already married. The men were gallantly dressed in beautifully embroidered gowns. They rode their horses in a grand style. Their horses were also beautifully decorated.
When Musa’s father was out of his sight, Musa started off towards the same direction. Musa was a tall nice looking gentleman. He was fine, fair, and had a narrow face and slender hands. His smile was one of a kind and very irresistible. He wore a black and white check turban round his head. His gown was as white as the foggy clouds on the beautiful Mount Cameroon. His horse was as white as his garment and he had a special way of riding it. He whipped the horse into frenzy, urging it to gallop as fast as it could so that he could keep sight of his father and his companions. The horse understood its master’s mission and obeyed without any problem.
There were many beautiful hills to cross before reaching the Beauty Palace. Musa would stand on a hill, watch his father and his companions descend into a valley and hold another hill to climb. He would then descend as fast as his horse could carry him. His horse was a whirl wind. It could run more than the fastest deer. Immediately he descended into the valley, he stood there and watched his father and his companions as they ascended the hill again. Several hills were crossed, but there was actually no iota of thought in Mr. Amadou’s mind that his son was following them closely.
When about eighteen hills had been crossed from home by Musa and only one was left to reach the Beauty Palace, he arrived at a stream in a valley. There stood an old clad woman who looked rather frightening. Musa waddled with his horse towards her. The woman had a faded black gown and a faded blood-red headscarf which was rather carelessly wrapped on her untidy grey hair. Her forehead was narrow and Musa could see a thousand wrinkles on it. She had no shoes on her feet and her toes were spread like a compound leaf. Her fingers were so thin that Musa could see the blood in her veins. “Now I’ll fry in my own fats. I don’t know what this old woman will do to me. Oh God help me.” Musa said to himself as he stood with his horse beside the woman. When she opened her mouth to speak, Musa noticed that she had only four teeth left in her mouth.
“Have you any kola, my son?” The old woman asked Musa.
“Yes mother.” Musa replied, shivering.
“Give me.” The woman said in a commanding manner.
Musa dipped his shaky hand into his pocket, fished out the kolanut and gave it to her.
“You are going to that place where they are naming the beautiful woman. Aren’t you?”
“Yes I am.” He answered.
“The lady’s name is Ntesinebong Ntisi.” She told him. Musa thanked her and she acknowledged by nodding her head. He muttered the name once and started ridding away, his legs spread out on the horse’s back. He squeezed the horse with his calves and heels and the horse responded by increasing its speed. Soon he was amidst the name guessing crowd.
Several handsome young men, most of them already married, came out and sang; each starting with his name and ending with that which he guessed could be the beautiful woman’s. One of them, Alidu, came out and sang:
“Kaii Alidu, kaii Alidu, Alidu Ngayoo!
Kaii Alidu, kaii Alidu, Amsha-a-tu”.
The name Amshatu, which Alidu guessed wasn’t the right name of the lady and so he was out of the game. Each gentleman had only one chance to guess the beautiful lady’s name. Alidu exited the arena with a very sad face for he had lost the chance to get the beautiful woman. Tens of men, young and old alike, came out and sang, yet no one was able to guess the right name of the beautiful woman.
It was now Musa’s turn to get into the arena. Everyone noticed him because he was a head taller than everyone in the crowd. He had taken off the turban which he wrapped on his head and replaced it with a white cap immediately he arrived at the Beauty Palace. When Musa came out to sing, Mr. Amadou and his companions were astonished to see him. Both Mr. Amadou and his companions had guessed the name of the beautiful woman wrongly and were now just spectators. They were waiting to see who would guess the right name of this beautiful woman.
Musa walked into the arena with pride and confidence. He spun round the arena, looked at the spectators, avoiding eye contact with his father. He took his cap off to the watchers and began to sing:
“Kaii Musa, kaii Musa, Musa Ngayoo!
Musa Sara, kaii Musa, Ntesinibong Ntisi.”
He was right; Ntesinibong Ntisi was the lady’s name. People clapped their hands and cheered him while others ululated. Young men who were waiting with drums under a huge tree beat the drums with mad excitement. Half-dressed young men sang and danced, splattering dust from underneath their feet. Their dance moves were so energetic and so fast that their feet never seemed to touch the ground. The prizes and the lady were brought out. Musa mounted on his horse with all his prizes and the lady on hers. Awful was it, for what she was wasn’t what she was said and thought to have been.
Musa’s happy tears were turned into grievous tears. The lady was round like a ball and had no eyes, no ears, no mouth, no hands and no legs. Musa cried for his dear life, but there was no alternative for him. He had guessed the right name of the lady and so she was his. He looked around in the crowd to see if his father was still there, but he had left. The weary young man left for home with his strange lady. They had enough basins of cooked food which were already prepared and tied on their horses for the journey.
Untold circumstances were under gone by Musa on the way. As soon as they started the ascending and descending of several hills, the woman developed mouths all over her round body. She finished basins of food within half an hour—each mouth giving its own choice of food. Musa was driven deaf by the noises of the many mouths demanding different types of food: rice, beans, kiban, nyam, yam, stew, fish, chicken, cheese, kebab, hot potatoes, salad, spaghetti, sandwish, achu, beans, jam, sweet, fruit juice, oranges, biscuits, and so on and so forth. Musa pushed down one basin of food after another, yet the lady was not satisfied. Both her food and Musa’s was finished in no time by her many mouths. She therefore turned upon her horse’s flesh and devoured it within a twinkle of an eye. She licked off even the horse’s blood from the ground.
When she had finished eating her horse, she removed the hind limbs of Musa’s horse and the horse was only left with the fore limbs and the stomach to move on. Soon, the fore limbs of Musa’s horse were taken off and the horse kept crawling with its stomach on the ground. It was not up to a second when she ravenously ate the whole horse.
“Danger lies in wait.” Musa said to himself as he made for home on foot. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him. Musa’s heels hardly touched the ground as he raced homewards. His heart pumped hot blood to his veins and his whole being boiled like water. Ntesinibong Ntisi was also rolling behind him at a very high speed saying: “A dze mku kvrr Musa, a dze mku kvrr Musa.1”
Fortunately for him, Musa was a deer. He was soon in his coffee farm behind his house. He held an orange tree and climbed on it. His dogs which he had told his wives not to unchain had heard the noise made the woman and were barking terribly. His wives had not heard this noise. The woman whom Musa hated to hell was tired of the noise and decided to unchain the dogs. As soon as the dogs were released, they all closed up upon this lady and ate her entirely. Although Musa had told his wives not to unchain the dogs, this woman had saved his life by disobeying him. He had succeeded without his wives noticing the danger in which he was.
As soon as Musa came in front of the house, he asked which of his wives had disobeyed him by unchaining the dogs. The woman whom he loved proudly said: “Is it not this wicked woman of yours?” She was expecting some praises from her husband who said nothing. Musa took the disobedient woman into a room in his house where he told her all to do. He then took a skin of an animal which sounded like a human being when beaten and said to her;
“When I hit this animal skin once, you should shout. When I hit it twice, you should cry, begging me to let you go to your mother’s house. When I hit the skin for the third time, you should pretend that you’re dying.” Musa’s hated wife did exactly as Musa had instructed her to do while the woman who was loved rejoiced outside.
When Musa was done with the drama inside the room, he came out of the room. His other wife smiled when she saw him for she knew that Musa had dealt away with the hated woman’s life. Musa drove away the woman he loved best and from that day on, he lived happily with his wife whom he had earlier hated. They lived happily ever after.”
I breathed with relief when the story ended. I gripped my great-grandmother’s hands, buried my face in her arms, and said: “I’m happy that Musa was not eaten up by the beautiful woman.” My great-grandmother rocked me on her lap until I fell asleep.
Cameroonian born Dr. SINYUY GERALDINE trained as an English Language and Literature in English Teacher in the University of Yaoundé I in Cameroon. She earned her PhD in Commonwealth Literature from the said University in 2018. Dr Sinyuy started writing poems in her teens and most of her poems and folktales were read and discussed on the North West Provincial Station of the Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) Bamenda where she was often a guest writer for the programme: Literary Workshop: A Programme for Creative Writing and Literary Criticism.Sinyuy Geraldine has had the following awards; Featured Storyteller on World Pulse Story Awards, May 2017; Prize of Excellence as Best Teacher of the Year in CETIC Bangoulap, Bangangte, 23 October, 2010; Winner of the British Council Essay Writing Competition, Yaoundé, 2007; Winner of Short Story Runner-Up Prize, Literary Workshop: CRTV Bamenda, 1998.Her publications include: “Stripped” FemAsia: Asian Women’s Journal; “Invisble Barriers: Food Taboos in V. S. Naipaul and Samuel Selvon.” Tabous: Représentations, Functions et Impacts; “Migration related malnutrition among war-instigated refugee children in the northern part of Cameroon.” South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition; “Cultural Translocation in Three Novels of V. S. Naipaul.” International Journal of English Language, Literature and Humanities. Vol. IV, Issue XII; “Journey without End: A Closer Look at V. S. Naipaul’s Fiction.” International Journal of English Language, Literature and Humanities. Vol. IV, Issue IV; “Which Other Way? Migration and Ways of Seeing in V. S. Naipaul.” Migration, Culture and Transnational Identities: Critical Essays.Some of her poems are featured on Time of the Poet Republic; Africa Writers Caravan; For Creative Girls Magazine; and Fired Up Magazine. Dr Sinyuy is an advocate for organic gardening and environmental care. She equally runs an online cookery group via WhatsApp where she teaches women how to cook good and healthy food for their families. She is also a lover of photography and spends her spare time taking photos. She is currently working on her collection of folktales and her first novel.
TIME OF THE POET REPUBLIC CURATOR(Mbizo CHIRASHA)
Author of a Letter to the President (Zimbabwe) Co-Author of Metaphors
of the Rainbow (Malawi). Co-Author of Whispering Woes of Ganges and
Zambezi (India, USA). Co-Editor of SecondNameofEarthisPEACE
African Contributor Poet /Essayist at Monk Arts and Soul Magazine
(UK). DitchPoetry( Alberta University,Creative Writing ,Canada).
Poetry Potion( Canada). FullofCrow(Canada). Scarlet Leaf( Canada).
Atunis Galatica( edited Agron Shele, Belgium). BlackWell
PoetryPamplhet (Oxford School of Poetry, UK). Litnet ( South Africa) .
OfiPress( Mexico City). FemAsiaMagazine (UK). InkSweatandTears (UK).
Squackback (USA).The Poet a Day Zine (founded by the late Maestro G
Jamie Dedes, Brooklyn, and USA). DemerPress International Poetry
Series (curated and edited by Hannie Rouweler, Netherlands). World
Poetry Almanac Series( Curated and Edited by Hadaa Sendoo, Mongloia).
Poesi. Is Journal (edited by Peter Semolic, Slovenia). Festival de
Poesia de Medellin (founded and directed by Fernando Rendon,
Colombia).DIOGEN Magazine (Turkey). RuckSackPatchPoetry, Voices of
Diversity (Passion for Poetry, curated by Antje Sehn, Italy). Cultural
Weekly ( International Space,USA) . Zimbabwean (published Wilf Mbanga,
UK) .WordCity monthly (curated and edited by Darcie Friesen Hossack,
International). IHRAF Publishes (founded by Thomas Block, NewYork,
USA). Diasporan Online (founded and edited by Lola Thomas, Spain) .New
Best African Poets (curated and edited by Tendai Rinos Mwanaka,
Zimbabwe) and more.