An African Folk Tale
The King of Kamera in Africa was a proud and stern man, feared by all his subjects.
One day while sitting in his mud palace, surrounded by fawning courtiers and watched by a multitude of people who had come to see him, he was suddenly overcome by a sense of grandeur and loudly declared that he was master of the world and that all men were his servants.
"You are mistaken," said a frail voice. "All men are servants of one another."
A deathly silence followed the remark. The blood froze in the veins of the people assembled there. Then the king exploded in anger.
"Who said that!" he demanded, rising from the royal stool. "Who dares suggest that I am a servant!!"
"I do," said a voice in the crowd, and the people parted to reveal a white-haired old man, leaning heavily on a stout stick.
"Who are you?" asked the king.
"I am Boubakar," said the man. "We have no water in our village. I have come to ask for a well to be dug there."
"So you are a beggar!" roared the king, striding down to where the man stood. "Yet you have the temerity to call me a servant!"
"We all serve one another," said Boubakar, showing no fear, "and I will prove it to you before nightfall."
"Do that," said the monarch. "Force me to wait on you. If you can do that I will have not one but three wells dug in your village. But if you fail, you'll lose your head!"
"In our village," said the old man, "when we accept a challenge, we touch the person's feet. Let me touch your feet. Hold my stick."
The king took the stick and the old man bent down and touched the monarch's feet.
"Now you may give it back to me," he said, straightening up. The king gave him back his stick.
"Do you want any more proof?" asked Boubakar.
"Proof?" asked the king, bewildered.
"You held my stick when I asked you to and gave it back to me when I asked you for it," said the old man. "As I said, all good men are servants of one another."
The king was so pleased with Boubakar's wit and daring that he not only had wells dug in his village but also retained him as an adviser.