When an ordinary man comes before an African king, he would normally salute him with these words: “May the king live forever!”
But once lived a man who refused to say this obligatory phrase, instead substituting: “There is no king like God.”
After many visits to the king, and many repetitions of this heretical phrase, the king grew angry and plotted to destroy the man.
He gave the man two silver rings and told him they were a present to keep, but in reality the king meant to avenge himself through them.
The man, whom everybody by now call “No-King-as-God”, took the rings, put them into a dried empty ram’s horn, and gave them to his wife to keep for him.
A week later the king called No-King-as-God and sent him to a distant village, to tell the people to come and help build up the city walls.
As soon as he had gone, the king sent for the man’s wife and offered her a thousand cowries (imported small shells used as money or ornaments), and a hundred head-cloths and body-cloths, if she would give him that which her husband had entrusted to her.
Tempted by the splendid presents, the wife agreed and brought the ram’s horn, and when the king looked inside, there were the two rings safely stored.
He placed them back in the horn, and gave it to his servants with instructions to throw it far into a lake. They did so, and as the horn fell into the water a great fish swam by and swallowed it.
On the day that No-King-as-God was returning home, he met his son and some friends near his home, and they wanted to go fishing. He went with them and caught that great fish.
As his son was cleaning the big fish, his knife struck something hard and he called to his father.
The father pulled out the horn, and when he opened it and looked inside he saw the rings which the king had given him for safe keeping.
“Truly,” he said, “there is no king like God.”
They were still fishing, when a royal messenger came and told the man he was wanted by the king at once.
He stopped at his house first and asked his wife where was that precious thing he had entrusted to her. She replied that she could not find it, and thought a rat had eaten it.
Shaking his head at her lies, the man set off for the royal court.
The other counsellors all saluted the king, by saying, “May the king live forever.” But the man said only, “There is no king like God.”
So the king told the counsellors to be quiet, and advancing towards the man he said, “Is it true that there is no king like God?” The man replied firmly, “Yes”.
Then the king demanded the rings which he had entrusted to the man, and signalled his guards to get ready to kill him.
But No-King-as-God put his hand under his robe and pulled out the horn and handed it to the king.
The king opened it and took out his two silver rings. “Indeed, there is no king like God!”, he said total amazement, and all his counsellors shouted in approval.
Then the king divided his city into two, and gave half of it to No-King-as-God to rule.