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Adzanumee and her Mother

There once lived a woman whose great wish was to have a daughter--but she remained childless. One day she was gathering yams in the field, and she pulled one up that was very long and well-shaped. “If only this yam were a daughter, how happy I would be.” 

To her astonishment, the yam replied, “If I were your daughter would you promise never to sold me for having once been a yam?” The woman agreed at once, and the yam became a beautiful girl, who the woman called Adzanumee. One day Adzanumee was away longer than usual and her mother grew impatient and angry. “Where is Adzanumee? She does not deserve her name. After all, she is nothing but a yam.” A bird nearby heard her and flew to Adzanumee and began to sing:

“Adzanumee! Adzanumee!

Your mother is unkind—she says you are only a yam,

You do not deserve your name!

The girl heard him and returned home weeping. When the woman saw her she said, “My daughter! What is the matter?” Adzanumee replied:

“O my mother! my mother!

You have reproached me with being a yam.

You said I did not deserve my name.

With these words she made her way toward the yam-field. Her mother, filled with fear, followed her, wailing:

“Adzanumee! Adzanumee!

Do not believe it—do not believe it.

You are my daughter, my dear daughter!

But she was too late. Her daughter, still singing her sad little song, quickly changed back into a yam. When the woman arrived at the field there lay the yam on the ground, and nothing she could do or say would give her back the daughter she had desired so earnestly and treated so inconsiderately.

Source: Adapted from The Annotated African American Folktales, Henry Louis Gates

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