Friday, April 8, 2011

The Dancing Pig: A story from Kenya

I feel compelled to share a story told to me by my new Kenyan friend, Marion, whom I met at the Writer's Conference I've been attending in NY. Whenever I meet people from other countries and cultures, the storyteller in me can't help but ask if they don't have some little folktale or anecdote they can share with me. Below is a version of the Kenyan story she told me.

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At one time the animals in Africa decided they would hold a party. Of course, what party would be complete without a feast? And what would be better to feast upon than a roast pig? So all of the animals set out to find one. However, no matter where they looked they couldn't find even one little porker. It appeared that the animals would have to do without roast pig for their main course. Instead, they set about making preparations for the music and dancing, an essential part of any African party.

Well, when Pig got word that a party was being held, he could hardly contain his excitement. He loved music! He loved dancing! He didn't want to miss all of the fun. So on the day of the party, Pig went to visit a squirrel who lived in his village and said, "I want to go to the party, but I don't want to be eaten! Maybe you can help me."

"Sure," said Squirrel. "I'd be happy to help. I'll sneak you into the party and find a place for you to hide."

"Great!" said Pig. "I'll see you tonight!"

That evening, true to his word, Squirrel took Pig to the party and found him a hiding place. From his safe spot, Pig could smell the rice and ugali cooking. Yum! But he didn't come out to have a plate -- it was too dangerous. And contrary to popular belief, he wasn't such a pig that he couldn't hold his appetite.

Then the music started. The beat of the drum moved the dancers to the floor where their legs leaped, their arms swung and their bodies swayed with the rhythm. Pig watched the spectacle in delight from the safety of his hiding spot. But suddenly, Pig began to feel the beat at the tip of his corkscrew tail. He tried to hold it in, but soon his tail started to wiggle. That wiggle worked itself from the tip of his tail all the way to his backside, which started to shake. Suddenly, he could hold it back no longer. Forgetting the danger, he jumped from his hiding spot and began to dance for all he was worth! He was having such a wonderful time that he didn't notice that the other animals had stopped dancing. He didn't notice until they came and pounced on him, sinking their claws into soft pink flesh. They threw poor Pig into their soup pot and served him for dinner -- all because he couldn't keep the rhythm out of his tail.
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I will refrain from giving my interpretation of the story. I'm far more interested in hearing yours. Please comment and share your thoughts!

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