Marama, a folktale. This story is told to encourage people to seek solutions to their challenges and stay positive while doing so.

African woman cooking - Marama



Marama was a beautiful woman and an excellent cook. Everyone in the community knew that she prepared the best food in the community, but because she had a very bad sore on her left hand, no one would hire her to prepare any meal for them.

So one day, the Duke and his wife-to-be wanted to get married and needed someone to prepare very delicious meals for the occasion.

“We need a cook for our wedding,” the Duke said.

“I agree. But not just any cook; we need a very good cook. But who will we hire?” his wife-to-be replied.

“I would have said we should hire Marama, but she has a terrible sore on her left hand, and no one would want to eat food prepared by her,” the Duke said.

“Yes, I agree. But who then will we hire?” After lots of contemplation by the Duke and his wife-to-be, they finally decided it would be best to search for the best cook in the world. They valued the chiefs, so the Duke called the council to inquire.

“My elders, I am very happy to have you here,” the Duke said. “Some of you know, but some of you may not know. I and my wife-to-be have decided to get married. We have made arrangements for everything. However we can’t find a good cook to complement the extravagant arrangement and please the people beyond measure. We called you here to know what you suggest we do?”

The elders took a while before they replied. One of them said, “why don’t we hire Marama? She is the best cook in this community; she will be more than perfect for the job.” This response caused an uproar in the palace.

“How can we hire her?!” One of the elders yelled.

“Do you not know that she has a very bad sore on her left hand?! No one would want to eat food prepared by her,” another elder said.

After the debate, they finally decided that they won’t hire Marama. Rather, they would search for another cook.

After searching far and wide for a good cook, they couldn’t find any, so they held another meeting.

“My elders, as you can see, we have been searching for weeks, but we cannot find a cook for our wedding,” the Duke said dejectedly.

“Why don’t we hold a cooking contest in our community? We will then hire the best cook.” The elder who had mentioned Marama’s name in the last meeting said. 

This time, all the elders listened and agreed that it was a good idea. So, the cooking competition began.

After the cooking contest, they found out that Marama was the best cook in the community, so they had to hire her.

Before they hired her, the Duke called another meeting with his elders.

“My elders, Marama is a very good cook, but we cannot hire her to cook for us without doing something about her hand. How will we cover up her sore? If we do not, no one would want to eat her food.” The Duke asked, greatly troubled.

The elders thought long and hard with the Duke. They finally decided they would hire someone to treat the cook’s sore.

“No, we can’t do that. If we hire someone to treat her hand, then everyone would see the treated point and still be scared to eat her food,” the Duke said, and the elders agreed.

Then the King, in his wisdom, decided that they would have a designer make a gold band that would cover the back of the cook’s hand. The designer did this immediately, and when the Duke was about to give it to Marama, the elders objected.

“My Duke, you cannot do that. The people will ask questions, and then when people come in, the people will still be talking about it,” one of the elders said.

“So how then should I go about doing it?” The Duke asked them.

“I suggest that you do it amid people. Let it be given to her as an award for being the best cook in the land. That way, people will not talk about it so much.”

The Duke agreed to this idea, and so he called Marama out amid everyone and gave her the gift as a price for being the best cook in the land. Some of the people knew that he was trying to cover up his tracks and not allow the people to know, that he was scared of what his guest might think when they discovered that they ate food made by a woman with a terrible scar on her hand.

The murmuring notwithstanding, right after Marama was given her gift, everyone started clapping and cheering for her. On the day of the wedding, she cooked very delicious meals, and everyone enjoyed them. 

From that day forward, she kept getting people who asked her to cook for them, and her wealth grew.


Moral Lesson

Never give up on your talent or skill; perfect it, and it will take you to places you never thought you could go. 


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