Pippi Danga

This is the third story told to me by the girls of the Store House Foundation in Kinshasa, and it’s one of my favorites. It’s so charming and clever, I think everyone who hears it will fall in love with Pippi at once.

What I can’t do is show you the wonderful singing and dancing that accompanied the chorus. Everyone joined in – all the girls and their carer as well. Oliver, the photographer who took the photos you see in these pages, did shoot some footage of the dance and the song, but so far he’s not sent it on to me. If he does, I’ll post it up. I hope so, because it really adds a lot to this lovely little tale.

Pippi Danga

Once, a mother lived on her own with her child, called Pippi Danga. Pippi was very curious little girl who tried to be good but found it very, very hard. One other thing you should know about her – she had the most beautiful voice.

One day, the mother had to go out to fields and leave Pippi at home on her own all day.

“Now, Pippi, you must NOT leave the house while I’m gone,” she told her. “It’s very important. The world is full of danger for young girl on her own. Now, do you promise, Pippi?”

Pippi promised her mother she would not go out all day, but would wait for her at home like a good girl.

Pippi really did want to be a good girl, but while she was waiting, a friend came calling. This friend wanted Pippi to go swimming in the river with her.  Now, it was a hot day, and the little house was very stuffy. Still, Pippi didn’t want to disobey her mother.

“I can’t go out,”she said. “I promised my mother.

But her friend scoffed at her. “Don’t be such a baby.  Your mother will never know. What harm can come to us by the river?”
But still Pippi refused to go.  Then her friend got angry and started to throw stones onto the roof of the house. And that was enough.  Pippi decided that the house might get damaged, so she rally ought to go out swimming for the sake of the house.  So she left after all, despite everything her mother had said, and went to the river to swim.

So the two girls went to the river, took off their clothes, which they hid under a bush, and went off swimming. But that friend Pippi had couldn’t have been very good friend, because while Pippi was swimming about and playing on a log, that friend sneaked off and stole Pippi’s clothes.  By the time Pippi noticed that her friend was gone, both her and the clothes were faraway. Poor Pippi was a mile from home with nothing to wear!  What a mess.

Of course, she was not going to go home with nothing on, so instead, she picked some big leaves that were growing nearby, and tried to cover herself up with those. She hadn’t gone very far when a man came along, carrying a drum under his arm.
“What’s this?” he said. “A girl walking about covered in leaves like a vegetable garden? What’s happening here?”
So Pippi told him, like this;

I’m Pippi Danga, I’m Pippi Danga,
Oh, Pippi, poor Pippi, bad Pippi Danga.
My mummy told me
stay home alone all day
But my friend took me out
and stole my clothes away!
I’m Pippi, poor Pippi, bare Pippi Danga
Poor Pippi Danga, walking home alone

The man’s eyebrows shot up his head when he heard her sing. He liked that noise.
“Poor Pippi Danga,” he said. “But I have a plan. Why don’t you hide in my drum? No one will see you then, and I can carry you home to your mummy, and no one will know how silly you’ve been, or see you walking around looking like a bag of salad.’

Pippi thought was a good idea, poor thing. She crept into the drum – but as soon as she had done so, the man quickly put a skin on it and nailed it firmly down. Now he had her – trapped in the drum!
Off he went as fast as he could before any found out what a wicked thing he had done. When he got  to the next village, he went straight to the middle of the village where everyone gathered, and started to boast about how he owned a magic singing drum. Of course, everyone was curious about that, so they gathered around. When there was a big enough crowd, the man lifted up his hands and began beat the drum. And inside, poor Pippi began to sing …

I’m Pippi Danga, Oh Pippi Danga,
Oh, Pippi, poor Pippi, sorry Pippi Danga.
My mummy told me
stay home alone all day
But my friend took me out
and stole my clothes away.
Oh, Pippi, poor Pippi, bare Pippi Danga
Poor Pippi Danga, singing in a drum.

Everyone was amazed at the wonderful singing drum, and never guessed there was really a little girl trapped inside it. They gave that wicked man plenty of money for his trick.  Off he went on his way, whistling a tune to himself, happy as the day is long and not caring one little jot about poor Pippi, trapped in that drum.

Stroy telling in the Store House Foundation

From then on, that man had no worries in his life. Whenever he wanted food or money, all he did was just play the drum and make poor Pippi sing out. People came from far and wide to hear the wonderful drum, and they were all wiling to pay good money for the pleasure of listening to it.  What a life he lived, wandering from village to village playing his drum.

But one day it so happened, he came back without realising to the village where Pippi herself came from. He played his drum there, just as before, and just as before everyone came running round and gave him money for the pleasure of hearing his wonderful singing  drum. But among that crowd was Pippi;s mother. When she heard that drum sing out she thought to herself …
“I know that voice! That’s no drum singing, and that man is no musician either.’

That night she crept out and went to the place where the man was staying. She found where he kept his drum – he had drunk too much palm wine and he was fast asleep and didn’t hear a thing. With a blunt little knife she levered out the nails holding that skin down one by one .. and sure enough, out crept her sorry little daughter, Pippi Danga.

Mother and daughter kissed each other and hugged. Then the mother sent her daughter back home while she dealt with the drum.  She had a bundle with her, and in that bundle, she had a little rooster. Now she tucked that rooster inside the drum. Then she nailed it up tightly and crept away.

The next morning, the man awoke and first thing he wanted his breakfast.  So he did what he always did when he was hungry. He took his drum out into the centre of the village and shouted out as loud as he could …
“Everybody listen to me!  I am going to play my wonderful magic singing drum – the only one in the world.  Wait till you hear what a beautiful voice i t has and how cleverly it sings!  Come quickly, or you shall miss my marvellous performance.”
Everyone came out to listen. The man lifted up his hands and beat the drum …
“Cock a doodle-dooo!  Cickeerikeeeeee!” crowed the rooster inside
“What’s this? What’s that dreadful noise? That’s no singing!” everyone cried. The man tried to explain, but the louder he tried, the louder the rooster crowed.  In the end everyone was so fed up with them, they chased him out the village, and he was never seen again.

I’m Pippi Danga, oh, Pippi Danga,
Oh, Pippi, lucky Pippi, good Pippi Danga.
A bad man took me
And hid me in his drum
But then my mummy found me and took me home again.
I’m Pippi, poor Pippi, glad Pippi Danga
Good Pippi Danga, happy back at home

This entry was posted in Folk Stories from the congo and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pippi Danga

  1. magda says:

    that is a lovely story
    thank you

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