|This folk tale from Kenya
has many variations. Sometimes the poor man is a cobbler,
sometimes a butcher, and sometimes just a "poor man."
Sometimes, instead of a Sultan, there is just a "rich
In none of the variations that I found do either of the wives actually speak. There is just one reference to a wife communicating an opinion; when it is time for the Queen to leave the poor man and go back to the palace, she doesn't want to go. This script departs (radically) from that tradition in order to suit Western audiences, and in order to give female actors some lines.
"Akello," "Akeyo," and "Wangari" are girls'/womens' names from Kenya. In the traditional Kenyan stories, no names are mentioned.
The word "sultan" comes from the Arabic word "sultAn." Islam has been in Kenya for about 1300 years, and today, about 5 million, or 20%, of Kenyans are Muslim. Parallel to and coexisting with the civil legal system in Kenya, there is an Islamic court and legal system as well. Kenyan Muslims still follow Islamic marriage law today, though they may choose civil marriage law instead.
Kenyans, when addressing or referring to the Sultan, would use the (Ki)Swahili word "mfalume," but "Sultan" is easier for English-speakers to pronounce.
Rumi (1207-1273) was a Persian jurist, theologian, teacher of Sufism, and famous mystical Sufi poet. His poetry was well known in the Muslim world.
Here is the entire poem by Rumi:
O lovers, lovers it is time
to set out from the world.
I hear a drum in my soul's ear
coming from the depths of the stars.
Our camel driver is at work;
readying the caravan.
He asks that we forgive his disturbance,
He asks why we travelers are asleep.
Everywhere the murmur of departure;
the stars, like candles
thrust at us from behind blue veils,
and as if to make the invisible plain,
a wondrous people have come forth.