Wuwung Sewe, the Fisherman *)

A story from the Minahasa**)
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A long time ago there was a man who lived in Tombariri, Minahasa, whose name was Wuwung Sewe. He was a fisherman, and therefore he often went to the river or to the shore.

On the river or the seashore he was able to find the sources for his livelyhood. From the water he was able to find the needed food resources as well as the needed transportation. But sometimes the water can become dangerous, and it can even be a threat to human existence. Sometimes the sea can swell and the river can overflow. As is always the case twice a day the sea can creep up the shores and after that eb away again. This movement occurs constantly and is the sea's own rythm. Both the animals as well as the plants in the sea adapt themselves to this eb and tide situation.

One day Wuwung Sewe went to the river's mouth to angle. The weather was misty and the mountains were already covered with clouds. However, Wuung Sewe was steadfast in his intentions to go fishing. His angle, his parang(long knive) and his fish-basket was all ready for him to depart soon.

Along the way he was thinking about the fish which he would soon angle. He knew that in the river's mouth he would be able to catch striped kakap, shrimps and crabs.

About two hours long Wuwung Sewe angled with good bait, such as fat worms, but he did not succeed in catching anything. He slowly got tired of fishing, and it started to drizzle softly. But he could not think of leaving for home empty handed.

"Let me try somewhat more upstream," were his thoughts. More upstream the water is usually less clear because of the lanau sand particles and often rather polluted.

Wuwung Sewe began walking upstream along the buluh-buluh tui small bamboo trees which grow along the riverside. At last he came at a spot which was suitable and where he was rather protected from rain. He continued angling with hope to catch much fish.

Suddenly Wuwung Sewe saw a floating cluster of buluh tui floating on the water surface to the sea. He thought that this cluster was some of the many buluh which grows along the riverside. Usually flow of the water in the direction of the sea becomes slower, because the river becomes broader. And the cluster came closer and closer.

"Ah, that must be a earth clump loosened by the rain and now drifting to the sea," Wuwung Sewe thought.

He carefully observed the floating buluh tui cluster. The water was calmly flowing in front of him. Suddenly the head of a big crocodile appeared from the water in front of him. It seemed to be so that the cluster of buluh tui was growing on the back of the crocodile. Wuwung Sewe quickly pulled his angle and ran away from the location.

But suddenly the crocodile spoke to Wuwung Sewe and said : "Hi, friend, please help me. On my back I carry a lot of thorns, I am suffering a very long time already, but there is no one who wants to help me. If you want to help me, be sure that there will be rewards. I ask you : please remove the thorns on my back, because it hinders me in many ways. I can not dive and swim freely, I even cannot sleep well. Please, my friend help me, once again : help me!"

Wuwung Sewe startled and answered in fright, "I do not think of rewards, but I only ask for your help in return. But, I'd like to know how does it come to be possible that the buluh tui can grow to such a size on your back?"

The crocodile answered in a sad voice, "This is the result of those people at the mouth of the Ranoyapo river at the southern shore. When my friends and I were looking for food over there, somebody speared me with a spear made of buluh tui and the spear perforated my back. Some of my friends have already tried to remove the spear but they didnot succeed. Now even more buluh tui is growing on my back.

After listening to the crocodile's sad story Wuwung Sewe said, "If that is the case I will help you."

Wuwung Sewe jumped on the crocodile's back and pulled all the buluh tui out of the crocodiles back. After that he took various leaves to clean the wounds left by the buluh tui. The crocodile was very happy and thanked Wuwung Sewe.

The name of Wuwung Sewe was always remembered by the crocodile. Besides of that the crocodile said that Wuwung Sewe was his friend.

But Wuwung Sewe said, "I want to make an agreement with you. An agreement which will be valid even for our children and grand children."

The crocodile made a vow, "If one of your family members wish to cross the river, especially at the mouth of the river, where many crocodiles are, you do not have to be afraid. You have to throw three stones in the water and say: "We are the children and grand children of Wuwung Sewe." This will be the sign that the ones who want to cross the river are the family members of Wuwung Sewe who has helped a crocodile."

After that the crocodile dived away. Wuwung Sewe felt proud and happy. He said "We do not have to be afraid any more for crocodiles because the crocodiles have promised me not to harm me or my family." And so Wuwung Sewe continued his work.

*) Translated by Manda Ratulangi from "Wuwung Sewe" from the book "Cerita Rakyat dari Minahasa" by Aneke Sumarauw Pangkerego, produced by : Penerbit PT Grasindo, Jakarta 1993

**) Minahasa is the most northern part of Indonesia's island Celebes (Sulawesi)