Ntikuma wanted to prove he was a man. His father and two older brothers planted, weeded, and harvested the crops. They fed, herded, and milked the cows. Ntikuma was only thirteen, so he had to help his mother around the house.
One morning his father called out, "Kuma," which is what everyone called Ntikuma, since no one used full names. "Come out here." The boy went into the yard. "Your brothers and I are going to the city to sell vegetables," the father said. "You must help your mother with the farm."
"Oh yes, Father," Kuma said with glee. "Don't worry. I will be glad to help."
"You will have to care for the cows and chickens and do what your mother says," said Kuma's father.
"I'll do a good job," Kuma said. Kuma worked for more than two weeks from dawn until night. His mother was pleased.
Then one day she handed Kuma two shiny pennies. "Get peas for supper from the village market," she said. Off he ran.
Kuma had been to the outdoor market many times, but never alone. The sellers' booths looked bigger. The shoppers' colorful clothes seemed brighter. The food smells were stronger. As Kuma strolled past the people and goods, the whole place sounded louder.
"Buy my bread!" an old woman yelled.
"Pots and pans!" a man called out.
"Fresh greens and fruit!" shouted another.
One sound rose above the others -- Be-bong, bong! The wonderful beat filled Kuma's ears. Be-bong, bong! It touched his heart. Be-bong, bong! He ran toward the beautiful sound. Be-bong, bong!
The sound came from a booth, but Kuma was too short to see. A crowd of dancing shoppers blocked Kuma. The boy pushed through to a space filled with more drums. Tall as a horse and short as a pup, round as a barrel and shaped like a cup, the drums created so much joy and excitement.
A salesman pounded the drum song. Kuma watched his hands go up and down. The man laughed. "You like my drum? Here, you try!" said the man, as he handed the boy a small drum. Kuma played and forgot the peas.
Will Kuma remember about the peas? Go to the next page and see.
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