The two children grew up together and were practically inseparable. Their loyalty to one another knew no bounds.
When Syrah came of age, a rich suitor asked for her hand in marriage. The parents agreed to the marriage, but Syrah would not consent to go with her bridegroom unless Yengay could accompany her. In order to keep the agreement from falling through, Syrah's Mother begged the bridegroom to accept this condition, and so the three departed together to the village of the husband.
When they arrived, Syrah created more difficulties. She did not want to enter the conjugal house, if Yengay could not enter also. Again, her husband had to give in.
And so it went, day in, day out, in all circumstances and situations. Wherever Syrah went, Yengay went with her; whatever favors Syrah gave to her husband, Yengay recieved first.
At the end of a week or two of this kind of life, the husband decided that this could not go on much longer. Something had to be done. So he went to the Kallettiggee (village chief) and told him of his troubles. "You are in luck," said the chief. "Today we are expecting to wage the biggest battle against our most formidable enemy, and as Yengay is by now a grown man, he cannot refuse to participate. Send him to me and I shall see to it that he is put in a spot where he is sure to perish."
Soon, one could hear war drums all over the village, and all the able-bodied men presented themselves before the chief, ready for combat. Among the men was Yengay, followed as always by his beloved Syrah, who was determined not to abandon him even in war. Her husband had to let her go, but he hoped that he would soon be rid of Yengay, whereas he was sure that Syrah, frightened by the shooting, would quickly flee from the scene, back to the village and to him.
The battle had hardly begun, Yengay was one of the first to fall. Immediately upon his death, he was transformed into a sounsoun (a fruit tree of the jungle). Syrah who could not conceive of life without Yengay changed herself into a tender vine and entwined herself around the trunk of the sounsoun.
And ever since then, the trunks of trees are covered with vines. So they say. And what they say, is the truth.
ORIGIN: Ivory Coast
"Good mawnin', God."
"How do you do, Snake?"
"Ah ain't so many, God, you put me down there on my belly in de dust and everything trods upon me and kills off my generations. Ah ain't got no kind of protection at all."
God looked off towards immensity and thought about de subject for awhile, then he said, "ah didn't mean for nothin' to be stompin' you snakes lak dat. You got to have some kind of protection. Here, take dis poison and put it in yo' mouf and when they tromps on you, protect yo' self."
So de snake took de poison in his mouf and went on back.
So after awhile all de other varmints went up to God.
"Good evenin', God."
"How you makin' it varmints?"
"God, please do somethin' 'bout dat snake. He' layin' in de bushes there wid poison in his mouf and he's strikin' everything dat shakes de bush. He's killin' up our generations. Wese skeered to walk de earth."
So God sent for de snake and tole him:
"Snake, when Ah give you dat poison, Ah didn't mean for you to be hittin' and killin' everything dat shake de bush. I give you dat poison and tole you to protect yo'self when they tromples on you. But you killin' everything dat moves. Ah didn't mean for you to do dat."
De snake say, "Lawd, you know Ah'm down here in de dust. Ah ain't got no claws to fight wid, and Ah got no feets to git me out de way. All Ah kin see is feets comin' to tromple me. Ah can't tell who my enemy is and who is my friend. You gimme dis protection in my mouf and Ah uses it."
God thought it over for a while then he says:
"Well, snake, I don't want yo' generations all stomped out and I don't want you killin' everything else dat moves. Here, take dis bell and tie it to yo' tail. When you hear feets comin' you ring yo' bell and if it's yo friend, he'll be keerful. If it's yo ' enemy, it's you and him."
So dat's how de snake got his poison and dat's how come he got rattles.
Biddy, Biddy, bend my story end.
Turn loose de rooster and hold de hen.
ORIGIN: African American Slaves