The South Bank Review Winter 2017 | Gardarraa ma Guuleysto
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Gardarraa ma Guuleysto

(Below is a recording of ‘Gardarraa ma guuleysto’ narrated by my father)


Gardarraa ma guuleysto

Falsehood never succeeds


It was said that a camel stood between a Lion, Snake, Fire, Water, Honesty and Falsehood. Each of them cared for the camel in their own way and each carried out one duty for the camel. The Lion was to protect the camel from other beasts, ensuring that no danger came to the camel. The Snake protected the camel from his own kind. The duty of Fire was to protect the camel from cold all through the year. The Water’s duty was to ensure that the camel never became acquianted with the taste of thirst. The task of Falsehood was to warn off enemies with false threats. He warned all those that came near: ‘this camel belongs to the king, and if you come any closer you will be hunted and killed’ and so they retreated. Honesty was to milk the camel and share the milk between the six of them without making one portion bigger than the other.

After some time, with this agreement still in place, a draught took place and there was no milk to share between them nor anything for them eat.

Falsehood decided that he would dispose of the others and sate his hunger by killing the camel for himself.

Falsehood went to the snake and told him, ‘Snake, as you know, the camel is no longer producing milk and the lion here is the strongest among us, and if the worst comes, he will kill us and steal all the meat for himself. At sunset, when it is settled and quiet and all is asleep, inject Lion with your deadly venom and rid us of him’.

The snake agreed wholeheartedly with Falsehood’s plan, having witnessed the strength of his brother Lion countless occasions. At daybreak, all rose from their slumber but brother Lion. Apart from Snake and Lion, the group were deeply stunned by the Lion’s death and mourned the loss of their friend and companion. They buried him beneath a nearby tree and prayed for him.

The following evening, Falsehood went to the Snake and told him, ‘there is a storm coming, my friend, and I feel for sure that you will not survive it without some form of shelter, therefore take cover under that shrub just there’. Once more, the snake did as he was told. Promptly after, Falsehood went to Fire and told him ‘As you know, that Snake has killed Lion, and if given the chance he will surely kill us all so burn him before he gets the chance’.

And so, Fire did as he was bid and that night Snake was killed.

The very next day, Falsehood went to Water and told him ‘You see Fire over there, he has killed the Snake, and if you don’t do something to stop him, he will surely kill us all’. And so, Water did as he was bid. That very night, Water crept up on Fire and washed him out.

And so, there were four remaining: Water, Honesty, Falsehood and the camel they shared between them.

Falsehood had no intention of stopping his mischief there so he called Honesty and Water to himself, desiring to be rid of them too, and said, ‘you see, my friends, god’s grace has made it so that we are the only ones left to care for this dear camel and it is now more important than ever that we attend and advise one another. Water, you see that river over there, I have heard that if you go far enough, there lays the freshest water there is. My dear friend, I would like you to fetch us this fresh water from deep within so we may quench our thirst for I fear we won’t last another day without it. Honesty and I will follow you with the camel.’

Water went deep into the river and soon realised that she could hold no form of resistance against the stream. The camel, Honesty and Falsehood watched as she lost herself to the river and eventually, flowed steadily downstream.

Subsequently, there were only two left to care for the camel. Falsehood mused to himself, ‘I will make it so that Honesty leads the camel while I take the rear end. I will jab the camel’s bottom until he rears forwards and stampedes Honesty. Then there will be no one left but me’.

Accordingly, she approached Honesty and said, ‘My friend, you lead the camel upfront and I will take the rear end. You are a much better leader than I.’ After they had walked for some distance, Falsehood pricked the camel in its bottom and the camel, taken by surprise, kicked back on his left side and hit Falsehood across his liver.

It is in this manner that Falsehood died along with all his trickery and the camel was left to the sole care of Honesty. It is from this tale that the popular Somali saying originates from:

‘Gardarraa ma guuleysato’ or ‘Falsehood never succeeds’.

Suad Aden

Suad is an English student at London South Bank University. She loves the creative writing part of her degree course and is slowly working her way towards becoming a teacher in the near future. She loves writing in her spare time but has yet to be brave enough to share most of what she writes. Her choice of degree was prompted by a love of great authors like Michael Morpurgo, J. B. Priestley and J.K. Rowling.