Hapo zamani za kale, not far from the city of Accra on de Gulf of Guinea, a country man went out to his garden to dig up some yams to take to the market. While he was digging, one of de yams said to him, “Well, at last you’re here. You never weeded me, but now you come around with your digging stick. Go away and leave me alone!”

The farmer turned around and looked at his cow in amazement. The cow was chewing her cud and looking at him.

“Did you say something?” he asked

The cow kept on chewing and said nothing, but de man’s dog spoke up. “It wasn’t the cow who spoke to you,” de dog said. “It was de yams. The yams say leave him alone.”

De man became angry, because his dog had never talked before, en he didn’t like his tone besides. So he took his knife and cut a branch from a palm tree to whip his dog. Just then de palm tree said, “Put that branch down!”

De man was getting very upset about de way tings were going, en he started to throw de palm branch away, but de palm branch said, “Man, put me down softly!”

He put de branch down gently on a stone, en de stone said, “Hey, take that ting off me!”

This was enough, en de frightened farmer started to run for his village. On de way he met a fisherman going de other way with a fish tarp on his head.

“What’s de hurry?” de fisherman asked.

“My yam said, ‘Leave me alone!’ Then de dog said, ‘Listen to what de yam says!’ When I went to whip de dog with a palm branch de tree said, “Put that branch down!’ Then de palm branch said, ‘Do it softly!’ Then de stone said, ‘Take that ting off me!’ “

“Is that all?” de man with de fish trap asked. “Is that so frightening?”

“Well,” de man’s fish trap said, “did he take it off de stone?”

“Wah!” de fisherman shouted. He threw de fish trap on de ground and began to run with de farmer, en on de trail they met a weaver with a bundle of cloth on his head.

“Where are you going in such a rush?” he asked them.

“My yam said, ‘Leave me alone!’ De dog said, ‘Listen to what de yam says!’ De tree said, “Put that branch down!’ De branch said, ‘Do it softly!’ And de stone said, ‘Take that ting off me!’ “

“And then,” de fisherman continued, “de fish trap said, “Did he take it off?”

“That’s nothing to get excited about,” de weaver said. “No reason at all.”

“Oh, yes it is,” his bundle of cloth said. “If it happened to you you’d run too!”

“Wah!” de weaver shouted. He threw his bundle on de trail en started running with de other men

They came panting to de ford in de river en found a man bathing. “Are you chasing a gazelle?” he asked them.

The first man said breathlessly, “My yam talked at me, en it said, ‘Leave me alone!’ And mi dog said, ‘Listen to your yam!’ And when I cut myself a branch de tree said, ‘Put that branch down!’ And de branch said, ‘Do it softly!’ And de stone said, ‘Take that ting off me!’”

The fisherman panted, “And mi trap said, ‘Did he?’”

De weaver wheezed, “And mi bundle of cloth said, ‘You’d run too!’”

“Is this why you’re running?” de man in de river asked.

“Well, wouldn’t you run if you were in their position?” de river said.

De man jumped out of de wota en began to run with de others. They ran down de main street of de village to de house of de chief de chief’s servant brought his stool out, en he came en sat on it to listen to their complaints. The men began to recite their troubles.

“I went out to mi garden to dig yams,” de farmer said, waving his arms. “Then everyting began to talk! Mi yam said, ‘Leave me alone!’ Mi dog said, ‘Pay attention to your yam!’ De tree said, ‘Put that branch down!’ De branch said, ‘Do it softly!’ And de stone said, ‘Take it off me!’”

“And mi fish trap said, ‘Well, did he take it off?’” de fisherman said.

“And mi cloth said, ‘You’d run too!’” de weaver said.

And de river said de same,” de bather said hoarsely, his eyes bulging.

“De chief listened to them patiently, but he couldn’t refrain from scowling. “Now this is a really wild story,” he said at last. “You’d betta all

go back to your work before I punish you for disturbing de peace.”
So de men went away, en de chief shook his head en mumbled to himself,

“Nonsense like that upsets de community.”

“Fantastic, isn’t it?” his stool said. “Imagine, a talking yam!”

[Ongea=Talk is an ancient hadithi from de Ashanti people, via The Cow-Tail Switch by Harold Courlander & George Herzog]