Ambe and Sister Sidonie

Written By: Carol Reinsma – Feb• 04•19

Nothing cheered Ambe more than the dances of his little sister, Sidonie. She danced while the water boiled for her morning tea. Her feet sashayed forward from side to side. Her arms and hands glided like birds flying back and forth from the trees.

Ambe clapped. “Your dancing is the best,” he said.

Sidonie clapped back in delight. “Will you come to school and see me dancing on the stage?”

“Yes,” Ambe said. “Nothing will steal me away from seeing you.”

Sidonie clicked her heels. “Wonda-ful. You will see me win the chair dance.”

“It is a fun dance,” Ambe said. “Do you know the secret to staying in the dance?”

“A good dancer doesn’t need any advice.”

Sidonie danced an imaginary circle and then ran off with her dancing feet barely touching the ground.

Ambe didn’t chase after her. At the school, he sat in the first row behind Sidonie’s class.

Chair Dance was second to last on the program. Ambe could see Sidonie’s feet tapping the entire waiting time. Finally, the teacher called the class up to the stage. Fourteen chairs formed a circle for the group of fifteen. As the teacher explained the rules, Sidonie stood to the side with tapping feet.

The music started. Sidonie lost herself in the dance. When the music stopped, all the children scrambled to get a chair. The boy, Jevonte, and Sidonie ran toward the same chair. She tried to bump him out of the way. He bumped back. Then quick as a wink, the smallest girl in the class slipped onto the chair. Jevonte ran to the last open chair. Sidonie stood without a chair.

The teacher announced that Sidonie was out of the dance. As she walked off the stage, Ambe invited her to sit beside him.

“I have a story for you,” Ambe said. “Do you want to hear it?”

Sidonie wiped away her tears and nodded.

“Storytalker says Orange Feather Chicken and Red Feather Chicken both saw a kernel of corn on the ground. Beak to beak they stood above the kernel. ‘Mine,’ said Orange Feather. ‘Mine,’ said Red Feather. With nips, pokes, and jabs they went after each other. Then quicker than a peck, Brown Feather swooped in and snapped up the kernel.”

Sidonie grinned. “Silly chickens. Silly Sidonie. Thank you for the story. You were right, I needed advice. Now I know that Chair Dance is a game about paying attention, not about dancing.”

Ambe nodded. “You are still the best dancer.”

“And you are the best brother,” she said

Ambe and Fufu

Written By: Carol Reinsma – Jan• 15•19

Ambe pulled weeds out of the cornfield from sun up to sun down. After a week, no nasty weeds grew between the leafy, green, corn plants.

“Beautiful,” the farmer said. “I will pay you with a rabbit just as I promised.” He placed a small white one into Ambe’s hands.

Ambe stroked the silky fur. “I’ll call you Fufu because you are as white as the fufu Mama makes from the white yams.”

“It is a good name,” said the farmer, “Now, be good to her and she will be good to you.”

Ambe ran home with Fufu in his arms. He wrapped layers and layers of raffia into a strong cage and put Fufu inside.

In the morning, Fufu was gone. “Fufu, Fufu,” Ambe called. At last, Fufu came with garden greens in her mouth. “Naughty Fufu. Do not run away again.”

Fufu stayed beside Ambe all day long. In the evening, he put Fufu back in the cage.

The next morning, Fufu was gone again. Ambe called and called. He searched and searched. At last, he found Fufu in the farmer’s field.

“If that rabbit eats from my field again, I’ll eat her,” the farmer said.

When night time came, Ambe stayed awake for hours and hours keeping watch over Fufu. Not once did she poke out an opening in the raffia reeds. “You are a good little rabbit after all.” Ambe closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Once again, Ambe woke to find Fufu missing. He rushed outside. “Fufu, Fufu.” The little white rabbit did not come. Ambe searched the garden and the farmer’s field. Fufu could not be found anywhere.

Sadly, Ambe sat down on a rock pile.

The farmer came by, rubbing his belly. “I had fufu for breakfast,” he said.

Ambe’s mouth fell open before he found the words. “You, ate, Fufu?”

“Yes,” the farmer said.

Ambe ran to the farmer’s wife. In the house, he saw white balls of fufu in a bowl on the table. “Is that what your husband ate for breakfast?”

“Yes,” she said. “Storytalker told him to eat fufu so you’d have a scare big enough to trust your rabbit without putting her in a cage.”

Ambe thanked the farmer’s wife and ran home.

There he found Fufu sitting on top of the cage. Ambe rubbed his nose against Fufu’s pink nose. “Storytalker gave the farmer a good trick to show me that you need your freedom.”

From that day forward, Ambe never put Fufu in a cage again. Fufu stayed close to Ambe during dark nights, starry nights and moonlit nights.

Ambe and the Storytalker

Written By: Carol Reinsma – Dec• 28•18

Ambe lived in a hut with his mother, father, two brothers, and one sister.

One day, Mama tipped over an empty dish. “Our food is finished for today,” she said. “What can we do?”

Ambe decided he must help.. But how?

He set out in search of food. Perhaps a mango or a banana had fallen from a rich man’s tree. He searched the ground underneath a dozen trees. But the only fruit he saw was in the trees belonging to another man. His mouth watered, but he did not want to become a thief by taking what was not his.

The sun beat down. His tongue waggled like a dry leaf. “Sun,” he shouted, “you are very strong. Your heat makes the plants grow. Could you shine my way to food?”

Giggling voices reached his ears from up in a mango tree. High in the branches, he saw boys with mango juice dripping down their chins.

“Stop eating mangoes that are not yours,” he shouted.

One of the naughty boys threw down a mango stone. “Why would we listen to someone who talks to the sun?”

“Come down out of that tree and I’ll tell you a story. If you don’t you’ll be like Bat and never see the sun again.”

The boys dropped out of the tree faster than overripe mangoes.

Ambe began the story. “Bat had no respect for Sun’s time in the sky. On an especially sunny day, Bat demanded Sun to leave early. Sun would not or take orders from Bat, so Bat flew into a cave and never came out again when Sun appeared in the sky. And you,” Ambe said in a dark low voice, “will have to hide in damp and musty caves with the bats when the owner catches you eating mangoes.”

The boys covered their ears as if bats attacked them. Then they ran fast and far from the mango tree.

The owner of the trees came running to Ambe. “You have saved my mangoes from the thieves. How did you do it?”

“I just told a story,” Ambe said, “one that Storytalker whispered in my ear.”

The man scratched his head. “That is a humble answer. It deserves a reward. What would you like?”

“Please, give me work that could earn food for my family.”

“As sure as the corn grows thick in my fields, we have a deal,” the farmer said.

After a noon’s day of work, the farmer gave Ambe a sack of corn.

At home, Mama roasted the corn and Ambe told another story. It was about Sun’s friendship with the corn in the field and the mangoes in the trees.