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Africa culture/tradition Igbo culture lullaby Pastoral

Folklore: The Hippo and His Seven Wives

I heard the Wind tell this story

Storyteller: Ifochakpii!

Audience: Waa!!!

Gather my friends. It’s time to tell a story. It’s time also to hear a tale. Gather by the fireside, warm yourselves. Bring the little ones to the centre. Keep them warmer, for night and her cold hands is nigh. Sit under the branches of the mango tree. From there everyone can see streaks of moon light on the grassland. As you watch the fire lick those dry wood pay attention to this short tale of mine. I’ve heard the wind and sky tell it in different tongues, styles and climes. Listen, because there may be a lesson or two. If not, it might just be another lullaby waiting to help a good night sleep! A good day ends with a good story. Will you like to tell me the lessons you picked? Ifochakpii!! Waaaa!!!

The Hippo and his seven wives

Long time ago when things were not as it was today, there lived a proud Hippo chief. He had seven wives as was the tradition for wealthy animals then. He had a secret name known only to his wives. They knew to keep it unknown to anyone.

One day the Hippo hosted a party and when he made his speech, he put out a challenge to his village people. “I’m afraid my people, if you can’t reveal my name you have to go home hungry. The dishes here will only be available to all when you reveal my name!” The whole congregation was left aghast. All those mouth watering dishes will be left unattended to. Ah! Well some tried to guess his name but got it all wrong.

The animals dispersed hungry. And they say a hungry person is an angry person. Many weeks passed and he hosted another feast. No one was able to reveal his name. Many animals guessed and was wrong. Then the Tortoise rose to speak. “Sir,” he started. “Since you have shamed us severally, can I ask what we stand to gain apart from the feast you have here?” The chief replied him, “Well, I’ll give you my land and retire to live in the river!” It was a tough challenge. He really believed that no one could get his name right. The crowd dispersed hungry again.

Now the Hippo and his wives had a favourite bathing stream, just by the foot of the great baobab. It was a luxurious and private bathing spot acquired by the Hippo for his household.

One day the hippos went down to the stream for a dip. The Tortoise well aware of their movement dug and hid on the soft sand with his hard shell stuck out but disguised as stone. He waited and waited. At last the hippos started back to the village. The chief led the way and was followed by the eldest wife. They went in a single file thereby leaving the youngest wife behind.

When the last wife came to the soft sands the Tortoise raised his shell a little, so that she struck her foot on the hard shell and yelled: “Nnayi ukwu dim oma my husband, come and help me. I struck my foot on a stone!” When the hippos finally left the scene, Tortoise ran back with joy.

A few weeks later the hippos hosted another feast. They had fun mocking other animals. When it was time for name revealing the Hippo marched majestically to the podium to allow animals guess his name. All the animals tried but none could get it. The Tortoise was the last to try.

“Your name is Nnayi ukwu dim oma!”

There was complete silence. Which was broken by a round of applause and sudden feasting when the Hippo’s face dropped. Without words the hippos marched to the river with their belongings. To this day my friends they lived in water. Never to return to land again!

Retold by Oke Iroegbu

Categories
folklore Pastoral Poetry

Another Tale from the Wild Woods

image

There’s a land behind those ancient hills
Hidden in the thick greened forest,
One of mighty foliage, brushes & roots
Dark green shrubs gather by the riverside
Ripe fruits plunge into the quiet waters
And fish schools scatter in excitement
Brown and black crabs meet to get drunk
Squirrels watch them, amused from treetops
The forest is awake, nature’s fine circus
At all times, the quiet cloud is navy blue
And king of forest do fall in love with it
When the cloud blush it rains softly; mildly
And little creatures which live in the land
Look up to the ever smiling forest king
‘Oh, how handsome his face look’, a cricket said
‘He is really in love with the selfish cloud
But we won’t understand why she always refuses
To love the handsome king back!’ some pigeons answered
‘I tell you that she is possessed, who should resist the forest king?’
The wolf alpha added, as he looked up
‘The forest king won’t talk yet, all he did is stare and smile
How savagely awful!’ Some pine trees whined
‘If for nothing but admiration is the reason to love
I choose not to love’, the philosophical Woodpecker concluded.

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folklore Pastoral

The Traveling Musicians

Gather around the fire and read this story with me. It’s a long bedtime tale.


An honest farmer had once a donkey that had been a faithful servant to him a great many years, but was now growing old and every day more and more unfit for work. His master therefore was tired of keeping him and began to think of putting an end to him; but the donkey, who saw that some mischief was in the wind, took himself slyly off, and began his journey towards the great city, ‘For there,’ thought he, ‘I may turn musician.’

After he had travelled a little way, he spied a dog lying by the roadside and panting as if he were tired. ‘What makes you pant so, my friend?’ said the donkey. ‘Alas!’ said the dog, ‘my master was going to knock me on the head, because I am old and weak, and can no longer make myself useful to him in hunting; so I ran away; but what can I do to earn my livelihood?’ ‘Hark ye!’ said the donkey, ‘I am going to the great city to turn musician: suppose you go with me, and try what you can do in the same way?’ The dog said he was willing, and they jogged on together.

They had not gone far before they saw a cat sitting in the middle of the road and making a most rueful face. ‘Pray, my good lady,’ said the donkey, ‘what’s the matter with you? You look quite out of spirits!’ ‘Ah, me!’ said the cat, ‘how can one be in good spirits when one’s life is in danger? Because I am beginning to grow old, and had rather lie at my ease by the fire than run about the house after the mice, my mistress laid hold of me, and was going to drown me; and though I have been lucky enough to get away from her, I do not know what I am to live upon.’ ‘Oh,’ said the donkey, ‘by all means go with us to the great city; you are a good night singer, and may make your fortune as a musician.’ The cat was pleased with the thought, and joined the party.

Soon afterwards, as they were passing by a farmyard, they saw a cock
perched upon a gate, and screaming out with all his might and main.
‘Bravo!’ said the donkey; ‘upon my word, you make a famous noise; pray what is all this about?’ ‘Why,’ said the cock, ‘I was just now saying that we should have fine weather for our washing-day, and yet my mistress and
the cook don’t thank me for my pains, but threaten to cut off my head tomorrow, and make broth of me for the guests that are coming on Sunday!’ ‘Heaven forbid!’ said the donkey, ‘come with us Master Chanticleer; it will be better, at any rate, than staying here to have your head cut off! Besides, who knows? If we care to sing in tune, we may get up some kind of a concert; so come along with us.’ ‘With all my heart,’ said the cock: so they all four went on jollily together.

They could not, however, reach the great city the first day; so when night came on, they went into a wood to sleep. The donkey and the dog laid
themselves down under a great tree, and the cat climbed up into the
branches; while the cock, thinking that the higher he sat the safer he
should be, flew up to the very top of the tree, and then, according to
his custom, before he went to sleep, looked out on all sides of him to
see that everything was well. In doing this, he saw afar off something
bright and shining and calling to his companions said, ‘There must be a
house no great way off, for I see a light.’ ‘If that be the case,’ said
the donkey, ‘we had better change our quarters, for our lodging is not the
best in the world!’ ‘Besides,’ added the dog, ‘I should not be the worse for a bone or two, or a bit of meat.’ So they walked off together towards the spot where Chanticleer had seen the light, and as they drew near it became larger and brighter, till they at last came close to a house in which a gang of robbers lived.

The donkey, being the tallest of the company, marched up to the window and peeped in. ‘Well, Donkey,’ said Chanticleer, ‘what do you see?’ ‘What
do I see?’ replied the donkey. ‘Why, I see a table spread with all kinds of good things, and robbers sitting round it making merry.’ ‘That would be a noble lodging for us,’ said the cock. ‘Yes,’ said the donkey, ‘if we could only get in’; so they consulted together how they should contrive to get the robbers out; and at last they hit upon a plan. The donkey placed himself upright on his hind legs, with his forefeet resting against the window; the dog got upon his back; the cat scrambled up to the dog’s shoulders, and the cock flew up and sat upon the cat’s head. When
all was ready a signal was given, and they began their music. The donkey
brayed, the dog barked, the cat mewed, and the cock screamed; and then they all broke through the window at once, and came tumbling into the room, amongst the broken glass, with a most hideous clatter! The robbers, who had been not a little frightened by the opening concert, had now no doubt that some frightful hobgoblin had broken in upon them, and scampered away as fast as they could.

The coast once clear, our travellers soon sat down and dispatched what
the robbers had left, with as much eagerness as if they had not expected
to eat again for a month. As soon as they had satisfied themselves, they
put out the lights, and each once more sought out a resting-place to his own liking. The donkey laid himself down upon a heap of straw in the yard, the dog stretched himself upon a mat behind the door, the cat rolled herself up on the hearth before the warm ashes, and the cock perched upon a beam on the top of the house; and, as they were all rather tired with their journey, they soon fell asleep.

But about midnight, when the robbers saw from afar that the lights were
out and that all seemed quiet, they began to think that they had been in
too great a hurry to run away; and one of them, who was bolder than the rest, went to see what was going on. Finding everything still, he marched into the kitchen, and groped about till he found a match in order to light a candle; and then, espying the glittering fiery eyes of the cat, he mistook them for live coals, and held the match to them to light it. But the cat, not understanding this joke, sprang at his face, and spat, and scratched at him. This frightened him dreadfully, and away he ran to the back door; but there the dog jumped up and bit him in the leg; and as he was crossing over the yard the donkey kicked him; and the cock, who had been awakened by the noise, crowed with all his might. At this the robber ran back as fast as he could to his comrades, and told the captain how a horrid witch had got into the house, and had spat at him and scratched his face with her long bony fingers; how a man with a knife in his hand had hidden himself behind the door, and stabbed him in the leg; how a black monster stood in the yard and struck him with a club, and how the devil had sat upon the top of the house and cried out, ‘Throw the rascal up here!’ After this the robbers never dared to go back to the house; but the musicians were so pleased with their quarters that they took up their abode there; and there they are, I dare say, at
this very day.


Good night 😊

Categories
Africa Africa, Poetry and Love folklore lifestyle Nature nature poems Pastoral Poetry quotes

Lullaby: Tale of the young Shepherdess

I will tell you a rhyme of the shepherdess who loved her sheep,

She lives in the country and could sing her community to sleep

Twinkle went stars nested far up the pregnant black sky,

When black clouds float, the gathering rain storm sigh,

“It will rain, but it might wait a little,” the young shepherdess prayed

She saw the stars disappear from the midst of black clouds

So quickly she led her tired sheep through the barn door

“Up you go, up you go, quickly climb up the dry hay, up you go”

She took the lamb up the higher stairs where a big lamp hung

The little ones nuzzle, when the shepherdess struck up a song

The country was not so far away, everyone could hear her sing,

And how she sang heartily, that the hamlet relaxed with the eerie wind

Suddenly a stronger wind blew and gave the little community a cold push

“Ah, it’s perfectly monstrous weather,” she said when it gave another swoosh

“I must retire before the storm catch me here,” the shepherdess exclaimed

“But tell me what you will like to see in your beautiful dreams,” she asked

And so because they won’t speak or maybe know nothing to say

They only looked on, blinked sheepishly, then maaa-aa away

Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore Nature Pastoral Series

Diaries of a Village Boy: The Leopard Spirit 9

Papa came back looking exhausted and defeated. He hung a tied piece of wrapper across his left shoulder and chewed slowly on bitter cola. He held a yellow palm frond in his left palm as he walked into our compound.

From my room I watched him march straight to his hut without speaking to anyone. He didn’t even answer Mama’s greeting. Something must be the problem and I was determined to find out sooner or later.

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Three nights ago I overheard Mama and Papa speak about the new priest that was sent by the Mission to our hamlet. Papa had intentions to speak to him to see if he could help liberate me from the spirit. They said the white man was stout with an iconic moustache. He was very tall and wore large eye glasses. Some children and indeed the villagers reasoned he had special powers for he talked back with authority and rude confidence at the Chief. Those who had met him thought he spoke through his nose and that he barely breath when he spoke. My friends who went with their fathers to welcome him said he spoke something like shuprishupri and they pitied their fathers who could only nod and gesticulate when he spoke to them. They swore he was a good actor full of humour. Sometimes some of the children will try to mimic his speaking style, ridicule his manners and then laugh away at their stupid selves.

Papa went to welcome him as the eldest in his clan. He should have taken me as his first son as others did but he felt I was not fully recovered. I thought Papa wouldn’t let us close to missionaries so that we won’t get corrupted by their ways. He had deliberately stopped us from attending church services too. But why would he seek help from those he abhorred? I shrugged. I knew one day I’ll meet the white man, and see if I can use his ways to free myself from this bondage.

***

One dibia suggested taking me to a forest for a week-long deliverance but my father refused saying that he won’t let me out of his sight. Mama has protested even before my father took the decision. I was indifferent, if no one wanted me to possess a Leopard spirit then why not do the needful to break the link?

The dibia had even adviced Papa to leave me this way, on grounds my powers may prove useful some day. I remember Papa shout, “Tufiakwa! Chukwu amamkwe!!

To be continued…

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral Series

Diaries of a Village Boy: The Leopard Spirit 8

That morning before the early hunters left their homes for the forest, Papa was already on his way to Ndi-Ikele to welcome the priest, newly arrived from Trinidad and Tobago. It was breezy and cloudy that morning, it seemed it would rain any moment. Trees, especially the palm took to joyful procession when I stepped out to look around. Heavy breeze shook the forest and the skies grew darker. Birds took flight, stray dogs barked. People took in laundry previously spread to dry. The wind blew dust and tree leaves about and I had to retreat back to my room. It was dark inside but I could hear Nene playing with her dog near the kitchen fire while Mama prepared breakfast. Mama knew well enough to get food ready before Papa’s return and while Papa may not bother about himself, he will definitely want to know if his first son has been fed. Men’s queer world, I shrugged.

I took a pen from my school box and started writing on an old wooden seat in my room:

I’m but a soul in a cold tumbler
I catch the wind with my palms, but my life is lived by another

I only wake to live another’s dream…

I was still scribbling and thinking of this strange rhyme when Nene walked into my room without knocking. She quickly scanned my room with her eyes and then delivered her message. I was wanted by Mama. Nene was the inspector in the house and always had something to report to our parents. She was talkative only when she wants something and had a bossy way of getting things done. She was the miniature version of my father.

“My son, your food is ready.” Mama recalled me back from my thought.

“Thank you, Mama.”

“Nene, take his bowl of water to his room.” Mama said to Nene. After a short protest and smirks she finally took the bowl to my room, mumbling and spilling some water on the way.

“Be careful Nene. Don’t spill water on my mats.” I said to her. She took a short look at me and disappeared from the door.

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***

Tinkom tinkom, tibaliba
Dadi nkem o, Dadi nkem o
I we hapu m oo, wee jewe Lagosi
Muna onye ga ebi…

Children sang and played outside our compound. The noise wouldn’t let me reason or rest. Nene and Kiri, our cousin from few compounds away were the leaders. The game was played by softly hitting the palms of your opponents in numerous styles to rhyme with the beat sang by members of the two teams. Both led a team of three followers. The game progressed peacefully for a while, and Nene’s team led in total score. Suddenly she mistakenly put out her left hand instead of the right one and lost a game. Kiri and her teammates shouted and rejoiced over their gain and Nene pained with the mistake bursted out angry.

“It seemed that you’re happy for nothing. I still lead the total score… See your tummy like that of a pregnant frog.” She yelled at Kiri, hands akimbo.

“See this one, she is angry that she lost a game. You’re a loser!” Kiri retorted when she learned her rival was bitter.

“If you don’t close your mouth, I’ll help you deliver that foetus in your tummy.” Nene shouted again. Their team members were enjoying the scenario when Mama walked in from the back.

“Who are those children that won’t let us drink water and rest in this compound. Ssshussh children, run away!” She shouted and clapped her hands. The fighting parties disengaged and ran away from the compound to regroup somewhere else and continue with their game.

To be continued…

Categories
Africa culture/tradition Nature Pastoral Poetry

Another Tale of the WildWoods

image

There’s a land behind those hills
Hidden in the forest,
One mighty foliage; of brushes & roots
At all times, Cloud is blue
And King of the Forest
Do fall in love with it
When the Cloud blush
It rains softly; mildly
And little creatures
Which live in the land
Look up to the smiling Forest King
‘Oh, see how handsome his face is’
A little dark Cricket say
‘He is really in love with the Cloud
But we don’t understand
Why she always refuses
To love the Forest King back!’
A group of Pigeons answered
‘I tell you that she is possessed
Who should resist the Forest king?’
The Wolf added, as he looked up
‘The Forest King hadn’t said anything yet
All he does is to stare and smile
How savagely awful!’
Some Pine trees whined
‘If for nothing but admiration
Is the reason to love
I choose not to love’
The philosophical Woodpecker concluded.

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culture/tradition folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry

Amuse: Singina likes my tales


“I remember your funny and lovely tales,” she yawned
“You complete my day with those poems of yours!”
At first I wasn’t sure of what I did right exactly,
But as a shepherd I find pleasure writing about life,
Telling of my travel, of my long days and how it ends
Now, tomorrow I shall tell you another tale
If seriously you love these tales I tell you,
Then you must pay attention, for it is not a lullaby
But some tales are ill: when I fought my fears;
To swim in the great river which flowed west,
And when I caught a forbidden crab from the river
I must tell you for you wished to hear of the Python
That took a traveler who was saved at the last point
Do not gasp, pay great attention, for some of my lyrics
Are not just songs, but words others say or teach me
So you must pay great attention to what I say, Singina

Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral Series

Diaries of a Village boy: The Leopard spirit 7

Papa said I had to be strong to attend the next Tales by Moonlight night. He also promised I could play and hunt with other children if I got well fast. So I took my medication and exercise seriously. The moonlight night tales come once in a fortnight, sometimes it may be delayed especially during the rainy and farming season. It was every child’s wish to listen to those ancient tales sitting outside, under a tree and the feel of fresh air on their bare skin. The old women who told the tales were called mama and sometimes brought fresh coconut juice and pieces of dried bush meat for everyone. The moonlight nights were secret rendezvous for young lovers. In fact, this was the major reason many teens looked forward to the event. Before the tales are told, some older children organise quizzes, talkshows, debates and games like wrestling, hides and seek and nchokotoro, which was girls favourite game. The boys will gather, not to play but to cheer their crush. I can’t remember exactly what moral I learned in the past tales but I was determined not to miss the next.

But who knew what may happen to me next? All the dibia, Papa brought had failed to cage the spirit and each time I came under an attack I was left at the mercy of other people. So I couldn’t control it. Each day, I grew afraid of myself and wished I could live my life as a normal boy. Who says you are not normal? I felt a voice question. There were strange voices in my head. Mild, sometimes harsh but never sinister. I could connect to it somehow, but not for long. This was a mystery unknown even to Papa and he was not happy seeing his son suffer for nothing. Maybe I could find out what I could achieve with this power. Just maybe, only that a Leopard is not faint hearted like myself. I shrugged at the thought of comparing myself to Leopards. In character and thought, I was just the opposite of it.

My friends came that afternoon to check on me. I smiled at their goofy locally made fishing suits. Odo had made one for himself from a fishing net. He wore it to my room and was narrating how the villagers admired and watched him as he walked through the clan. I knew he was bragging, I saw nothing special in his new fishing net suit. The boys brought some Udala and mango. Ah! I knew my friends were not privileged like myself to attend school but I would never trade them for anything!

“Thanks guys!”

“Have you heard that the strange crocodile has resurfaced and is even digging again?” Obi asked, cutting my greeting off.

“That’s old news. The animal has turned our clean stream water into mud, we can’t even use the stream anymore.” Odo replied.

“Really?” I asked. “I thought it was captured when I was away?”

“No nah. The hunters caught a beaver. A beaver is not a crocodile.” Chimdi answered. She was the only girl friend in our midst. She seldom spoke and will always be the first to laugh when the boys come to mischief.

“Can you cook or bath with mud?” Odo ignored her.

“Well, the Igwe has summoned a hunting party at his palace. I knew because my father is a volunteer for the hunt.” Ekeledi added. He was handsome. But he was a stammerer and pronounced each word after striking his foot on the floor. He got angry easily and will hit anyone with any available object…

To be continued…

Categories
culture/tradition folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Series

Folklore: The Straw, the Coal and the Bean from Gutenberg Project

In a village dwelt a poor old woman, who had gathered together a dish of beans and wanted to cook them. So she made a fire on her hearth and that it might burn the quicker, she lighted it with a handful of straw. When she was emptying the beans into the pan, one dropped without her observing it, and lay on the ground beside a straw, and soon afterwards a burning coal from the fire leapt down to the two. Then the straw began and said: ‘Dear friends, from whence do you come here?’ The coal replied: ‘I fortunately sprang out of the fire, and if I had not escaped by sheer force, my death would have been certain,–I should have been burnt to ashes.’ The bean said: ‘I too have escaped with a whole skin, but if the old woman had got me into the pan, I should have been made into broth without any mercy, like my comrades.’ ‘And would a better fate have fallen to my lot?’ said the straw. ‘The old woman has
destroyed all my brethren in fire and smoke; she seized sixty of them at once, and took their lives. I luckily slipped through her fingers.’

‘But what are we to do now?’ said the coal.

‘I think,’ answered the bean, ‘that as we have so fortunately escaped death, we should keep together like good companions, and lest a new mischance should overtake us here, we should go away together, and repair to a foreign country.’

The proposition pleased the two others, and they set out on their way together. Soon, however, they came to a little brook, and as there was no bridge or foot-plank, they did not know how they were to get over it. The straw hit on a good idea, and said: ‘I will lay myself straight across, and then you can walk over on me as on a bridge.’ The straw therefore stretched itself from one bank to the other, and the coal, who was of an impetuous disposition, tripped quite boldly on to the newly-built bridge. But when she had reached the middle, and heard the water rushing beneath her, she was after all, afraid, and stood still, and ventured no farther. The straw, however, began to burn, broke in two pieces, and fell into the stream. The coal slipped after her, hissed when she got into the water, and breathed her last. The bean, who had prudently stayed behind on the shore, could not but laugh at the event, was unable to stop, and laughed so heartily that she burst. It would have been all over with her, likewise, if, by good fortune, a tailor who was travelling in search of work, had not sat down to rest by the brook. As he had a compassionate heart he pulled out his needle and thread, and sewed her together. The bean thanked him most prettily, but as the tailor used black thread, all beans since then have a black seam.

Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral Series

Diaries of a Village Boy: The Leopard Spirit 6

That night I had another attack. It was midnight and everybody was settled for some sleep. The moon was white, there were no stars and the evening brought mild breezes. Wild dogs and wolves howled from the hilly distance and the night was deafened in their terrifying noise. Night was nobody’s friend those days. Travelers were adviced not to travel by night. If they do they risk being attacked by wild animals or if unlucky may be taken by slave or head hunters or even worse, as the villagers believed, killed by wandering spirits of dead men.

I can’t recall exactly how it started, but in few minutes I fell off my bamboo bed and continued struggling with some invincible power on the ground. The twist and turns created a scene. The fall and noise woke even the heaviest sleeper and my sentinel, Nene. She yelled in fear and ran out of the room. Her dog followed her. From the passage I heard her cry for she was afraid to leave the hut that night.

I heard someone call Papa, ‘Where you deh Papa? Come fast please! It must be your boy.’ It seemed that this man heard Nene’s cry and woke to find out what the matter was. A rush followed as Papa and some men came. I felt hands all over my body when they tried to lift me up from the ground. I felt everything but couldn’t move. My body was stiff, I couldn’t even blink an eyelid.

‘Place him on his bamboo bed, so that his chest will be elevated.’ A voice adviced. Then my body was taken up to my bamboo bed. I sighed in pain. I felt palms pulling away at my legs and hands, massaging my body with some hot ointment. Few palms rubbed mmanu aku into my eyes, nose, ears and mouth. I sneezed, heavily, again and again. The pain was indescribable but as a man leaned over and made incantations I fell asleep immediately. I learned later in the morning, that father hired a dibia.

***

Morning was picturesque and dramatic as usual. Palm trees started a happy procession with the wind, that may continue till noon. Tree leaves fall, scattering with the flirty wind all over the hamlet. Little girls wished away the leaves so they could lazy around without sweeping. Activities resumed, older boys to farms, older girls to streams, younger boys to check rodent traps, younger girls to sweep. The women and men left for their various chores; dogs, cats and poultry played in the early sun. The whole village sent an emissary to my father’s compound to hear the latest news. My father who didn’t like much drama sent most away with assurance that I was fine.

‘Papa.’ I called from my room.

‘I’m here, my son.’

‘My head hurts badly.’

‘I’m sorry nwam, ndo. You’ll be fine, you’ll see.’ He consoled me. ‘Woman bring him some breakfast!’ He called to my mother. She wasn’t allowed into the room initially but the food gave her the chance to.

The aroma of yam and goat meat pepper soup rented the room when Mama brought the food. As Mama put the tray on the table she started crying. Papa asked some women to lead her away from the room…

To be continued…

Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore Igbo culture Lessons from Experiences lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry Series

The Rainmaker’s Tales: Beginning

When I am not making the rain fall
To flood the village and farms
And to make the river banks overflow
Then I will be watching the glittering stars
And talking to her, the night and moon
Well, the night is never complete without a tale
And this is for the sleepy little ones,
I shall tell you of the Forest and her folk

… The Rainmaker

***

Once when the Forests owned all the land
And the Forest King loved the valley greens
For it spread, such that the quiet mountain
Was covered with green grasses and plants,
The Wind adored the Mountain’s look
For during winter, she was terribly cold
That she felt absolutely nothing even for the Wind
She had no dimples, no smiles, no blushing
But the Tomato could blush and did a good job of it, anyway,
So each time the farmers called out to the tomato,
All she could was smile and blush deep red,
Now the Ice King wooed the Mountain and usually
Gathered around her face to give a warm kiss
But this never went down well with the Wind
For when the Ice King left with his captains,
And Summer came, the Forests grew their green
But the Wind felt awful all year round,
Thinking he was a big time loser!
The truth was that the lonely Mountain felt nothing
And was never meant for this young Wind

To be continued…

Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry

African morning

In the morning the mild golden sun rise above the huts and hills
Painting the corn fields yellow and making the streams shimmer
Upon flowing rivers it glitters, till the dead end below a tree root
Big fishes stay ready to strafe up to pick insects off tree barks

In the hamlets, dogs chased cats, children played here and there
Men and boys went towards the great forests beyond the hills
To check hidden traps tucked away or tend to their farm needs
Girls pound yams, making dishes with bush meat from hunters

In the evenings, children and elderlies gather to hear night tales
When the moon light shine and the airs are soothingly mild
Everyone who wished to hear the tale of the night gather for it
And when it is told, even before the tales end many bent snoring…

Categories
Africa Nature Pastoral Poetry

Folktale: The Hen and Her Neighbors

It is breezy here and I have a tale for the evening. Gather around, sit with me under this mango tree, warm yourself by the fire and enjoy this poetaleIfochakpi! Waa!!

Once in the animal kingdom
There lived a Hen and a Cock and
Their neighbors, the Rat and the Lizard
One day the Hen wanted to clean
“I need to clean this compound
Who will help me sweep the floor?”
“Not me!” Said the Cock
“Not me!” Said the Rat
“Not me!” Said the Lizard
“Then I’ll do the cleaning myself”

The unhappy Hen said to herself
Noon came and it was time for lunch
“Who will help me buy vegetables for soup?”
“Not me!” Said the Cock
“Not me!” Said the Rat
“Not me!” Said the Lizard
“Then I must go to the market myself”

The unhappy Hen mumbled to herself
When evening came and the sun was setting
The Hen saw that she needs some fire
“Who will help me make some fire?”
“Not me!” Said the Cock
“Not me!” Said the Rat
“Not me!” Said the Lizard
“Then I must cook this meal myself”

The unhappy Hen said to herself
When the soup aroma went around the compound
Everyone asked where this wonderful smell came from
And lo, the Cock, Rat and Lizard gathered by the fire
“This soup is very sweet and needs someone to taste it,
Who will eat this vegetable soup?”
“Me!” Said the Cock
“Me!” Said the Rat
“Me!” Yelled the Lizard

So the Hen took a broom and started sweeping the kitchen and when she got close to the three, raised it and chased them away from her pot of soup!

****
Ifochakpi! Waa!! : An exclamation used whenever a tale is to be told in Igbo land. The story teller says Ifochakpi! while the audience replies Waa! pronounced as war!

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Series

Jorinda and Jorindel from Gutenberg Project

There was once an old castle, that stood in the middle of a deep gloomy wood, and in the castle lived an old fairy. Now this fairy could take any shape she pleased. All the day long she flew about in the form of an owl, or crept about the country like a cat; but at night she always became an old woman again. When any young man came within a hundred paces of her castle, he became quite fixed, and could not move a step till she came and set him free; which she would not do till he had given her his word never to come there again: but when any pretty maiden came within that space she was changed into a bird, and the fairy put her into a cage, and hung her up in a chamber in the castle. There were seven hundred of these cages hanging in the castle, and all with beautiful birds in them.

Now there was once a maiden whose name was Jorinda. She was prettier than all the pretty girls that ever were seen before, and a shepherd lad, whose name was Jorindel, was very fond of her, and they were soon to be married. One day they went to walk in the wood, that they might be alone; and Jorindel said, ‘We must take care that we don’t go too near to the fairy’s castle.’ It was a beautiful evening; the last rays of the setting sun shone bright through the long stems of the trees upon the green underwood beneath, and the turtle-doves sang from the tall birches.

Jorinda sat down to gaze upon the sun; Jorindel sat by her side; and both felt sad, they knew not why; but it seemed as if they were to be parted from one another for ever. They had wandered a long way; and when they looked to see which way they should go home, they found themselves at a loss to know what path to take.

The sun was setting fast, and already half of its circle had sunk behind the hill: Jorindel on a sudden looked behind him, and saw through the bushes that they had, without knowing it, sat down close under the old walls of the castle. Then he shrank for fear, turned pale, and trembled. Jorinda was just singing,

“The ring-dove sang from the willow spray,
Well-a-day! Well-a-day!
He mourn’d for the fate of his darling mate,
Well-a-day!” when her song stopped suddenly. Jorindel turned to see the reason, and beheld his Jorinda changed into a nightingale, so that her song ended with a mournful jug. An owl with fiery eyes flew three times round them, and three times screamed:
“Tu whu! Tu whu! Tu whu!”

Jorindel could not move; he stood fixed as a stone, and could neither weep, nor speak, nor stir hand or foot. And now the sun went quite down; the gloomy night came; the owl flew into a bush; and a moment after the old fairy came forth pale and meagre, with staring eyes, and a nose and chin that almost met one another.

She mumbled something to herself, seized the nightingale, and went away with it in her hand. Poor Jorindel saw the nightingale was gone but what could he do? He could not speak, he could not move from the spot where he stood. At last the fairy came back and sang with a hoarse voice:
“Till the prisoner is fast,
And her doom is cast,
There stay! Oh, stay!
When the charm is around her,
And the spell has bound her,
Hie away! away!”

On a sudden Jorindel found himself free. Then he fell on his knees before the fairy, and prayed her to give him back his dear Jorinda: but she laughed at him, and said he should never see her again; then she went her way.
He prayed, he wept, he sorrowed, but all in vain. ‘Alas!’ he said, ‘what will become of me?’ He could not go back to his own home, so he went to a strange village, and employed himself in keeping sheep. Many a time did he walk round and round as near to the hated castle as he dared go, but all in vain; he heard or saw nothing of Jorinda.

At last he dreamt one night that he found a beautiful purple flower, and that in the middle of it lay a costly pearl; and he dreamt that he plucked the flower, and went with it in his hand into the castle, and that everything he touched with it was disenchanted, and that there he found his Jorinda again.

In the morning when he awoke, he began to search over hill and dale for this pretty flower; and eight long days he sought for it in vain: but on the ninth day, early in the morning, he found the beautiful purple flower; and in the middle of it was a large dewdrop, as big as a costly pearl. Then he plucked the flower, and set out and travelled day and night, till he came again to the castle.

He walked nearer than a hundred paces to it, and yet he did not become fixed as before, but found that he could go quite close up to the door. Jorindel was very glad indeed to see this. Then he touched the door with the flower, and it sprang open; so that he went in through the court, and listened when he heard so many birds singing. At last he came to the chamber where the fairy sat, with the seven hundred birds singing in the seven hundred cages. When she saw Jorindel she was very angry, and screamed with rage; but she could not come within two yards of him, for the flower he held in his hand was his safeguard. He looked around at the birds, but alas! there were many, many nightingales, and how then should he find out which was his Jorinda? While he was thinking what to do, he saw the fairy had taken down one of the cages, and was making the best of her way off through the door. He ran or flew after her, touched the cage with the flower, and Jorinda stood before him, and threw her arms round his neck looking as beautiful as ever, as beautiful as when they walked together in the wood.

Then he touched all the other birds with the flower, so that they all took their old forms again; and he took Jorinda home, where they were married, and lived happily together many years: and so did a good many other lads, whose maidens had been forced to sing in the old fairy’s cages by themselves, much longer than they liked.

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Uncategorized

Folklore: Old Sultan from project Gutenberg

A shepherd had a faithful dog, called Sultan, who was grown very old, and had lost all his teeth. And one day when the shepherd and his wife were standing together before the house the shepherd said, “I will shoot old Sultan tomorrow morning, for he is of no use now.” But his wife said, “Pray let the poor faithful creature live; he has served us well a great many years, and we ought to give him a livelihood for the rest of his days.” “But what can we do with him?” said the shepherd, “he has not a tooth in his head, and the thieves don’t care for him at all; to be sure he has served us, but then he did it to earn his livelihood; tomorrow shall be his last day, depend upon it.”

Poor Sultan, who was lying close by them, heard all that the shepherd and his wife said to one another, and was very much frightened to think tomorrow would be his last day; so in the evening he went to his good friend the wolf, who lived in the wood, and told him all his sorrows, and how his master meant to kill him in the morning. “Make yourself easy,” said the wolf, “I will give you some good advice. Your master, you know, goes out every morning very early with his wife into the field; and they take their little child with them, and lay it down
behind the hedge in the shade while they are at work. Now do you lie down close by the child, and pretend to be watching it, and I will come out of the wood and run away with it; you must run after me as fast as you can, and I will let it drop; then you may carry it back, and they will think you have saved their child, and will be so thankful to you that they will take care of you as long as you live.” The dog liked this plan very well; and accordingly so it was managed. The wolf ran with the child a little way; the shepherd and his wife screamed out; but Sultan soon overtook him, and carried the poor little thing back to his master and mistress. Then the shepherd patted him on the head, and said, “Old Sultan has saved our child from the wolf, and therefore he shall live and be well taken care of, and have plenty to eat. Wife, go home, and give him a good dinner, and let him have my old cushion to sleep on as long as he lives.” So from this time forward Sultan had all that he could wish for.

Soon afterwards the wolf came and wished him joy, and said, “Now, my good fellow, you must tell no tales, but turn your head the other way when I want to taste one of the old shepherd’s fine fat sheep.” “No,” said Sultan; “I will be true to my master.” However, the wolf thought he was in joke, and came one night to get a dainty morsel. But Sultan had told his master what the wolf meant to do; so he laid wait for him behind the barn door, and when the wolf was busy looking out for a good fat sheep, he had a stout cudgel laid about his back, that combed his locks for him finely. Then the wolf was very angry, and called Sultan “an old rogue,” and swore he would have his revenge. So the next morning the wolf sent the boar to challenge Sultan to come into the wood to fight the matter. Now Sultan had nobody he could ask to be his second but the shepherd’s old
three-legged cat; so he took her with him, and as the poor thing limped along with some trouble, she stuck up her tail straight in the air.

The wolf and the wild boar were first on the ground; and when they espied their enemies coming, and saw the cat’s long tail standing straight in the air, they thought she was carrying a sword for Sultan to fight with; and every time she limped, they thought she was picking up a stone to throw at them; so they said they should not like this way of fighting, and the boar lay down behind a bush, and the wolf jumped up into a tree. Sultan and the cat soon came up, and looked about and wondered that no one was there. The boar, however, had not quite hidden himself, for his ears stuck out of the bush; and when he shook one of them a little, the cat, seeing something move, and thinking it was a mouse, sprang upon it, and bit and scratched it, so that the boar jumped up and grunted, and ran away, roaring out, “Look up in the tree, there sits the one who is to blame.” So they looked up, and espied the wolf sitting amongst the branches; and they called him a cowardly rascal, and would not suffer him to come down till he was heartily ashamed of himself, and had promised to be good friends again with old Sultan.

Categories
Pastoral

Folklore: King Grisly Beard from Project Gutenberg

A great king of a land far away in the East had a daughter who was very beautiful, but so proud, and haughty, and conceited, that None of the
princes who came to ask her in marriage was good enough for her, and she only made sport of them.

Once upon a time the king held a great feast, and asked thither all her suitors; and they all sat in a row, ranged according to their rank–kings, and princes, and dukes, and earls, and counts, and barons, and knights. Then the princess came in, and as she passed by them she had something spiteful to say to every one. The first was too fat: ‘He’s as round as a tub,’ said she. The next was too tall: ‘What a maypole!’ said she. The next was too short: ‘What a dumpling!’ said she. The fourth was too pale, and she called him ‘Wallface.’ The fifth was too red, so she called him ‘Coxcomb.’ The sixth was not straight enough; so she said he was like a green stick, that had been laid to dry over a baker’s oven. And thus she had some joke to crack upon every one: but she laughed more than all at a good king who was there. ‘Look at him,’ said she; ‘his beard is like an old mop; he shall be called Grisly-beard.’ So the king got the nickname of Grisly-beard.

But the old king was very angry when he saw how his daughter behaved, and how she ill-treated all his guests; and he vowed that, willing or unwilling, she should marry the first man, be he prince or beggar, that came to the door.

Two days after there came by a travelling fiddler, who began to play under the window and beg alms; and when the king heard him, he said, ‘Let him come in.’ So they brought in a dirty-looking fellow; and when he had sung before the king and the princess, he begged a boon. Then the king said, ‘You have sung so well, that I will give you my daughter for your wife.’ The princess begged and prayed; but the king said, ‘I have sworn to give you to the first comer, and I will keep my word.’ So words and tears were of no avail; the parson was sent for, and she was married to the fiddler. When this was over the king said, ‘Now get ready to go–you must not stay here–you must travel on with your husband.’ Then the fiddler went his way, and took her with him, and they soon came to a great wood. ‘Pray,’ said she, ‘whose is this wood?’

‘It belongs to King Grisly-beard,’ answered he; ‘hadst thou taken him, all had been thine.’ ‘Ah! unlucky wretch that I am!’ sighed she; ‘would that I had married King Grisly-beard!’ Next they came to some fine meadows. ‘Whose are these beautiful green meadows?’ said she. ‘They belong to King Grisly-beard, hadst thou taken him, they had all been thine.’ ‘Ah unlucky wretch that I am!’ said she; ‘would that I had married King Grisly-beard!’

Then they came to a great city. ‘Whose is this noble city?’ said she. ‘It belongs to King Grisly-beard; hadst thou taken him, it had all been thine.’ ‘Ah! wretch that I am!’ sighed she; ‘why did I not marry King Grisly-beard?’ ‘That is no business of mine,’ said the fiddler: ‘why should you wish for another husband? Am not I good enough for you?’ At last they came to a small cottage. ‘What a paltry place!’ said she; ‘to whom does that little dirty hole belong?’ Then the fiddler said, ‘That is your and my house, where we are to live.’ ‘Where are your servants?’ cried she. ‘What do we want with servants?’ said he; ‘you must do for yourself whatever is to be done. Now make the fire, and put on water and cook my supper, for I am very tired.’

But the princess knew nothing of making fires and cooking, and the fiddler was forced to help her. When they had eaten a very scanty meal they went to bed; but the fiddler called her up very early in the morning to clean the house. Thus they lived for two days: and when they had eaten up all there was in the cottage, the man said, ‘Wife, we can’t go on thus, spending money and earning nothing. You must learn to weave baskets.’ Then he went out and cut willows, and brought them home, and she began to weave; but it made her fingers very sore. ‘I see this work won’t do,’ said he: ‘try and spin; perhaps you will do that better.’ So she sat down and tried to spin; but the threads cut her tender fingers till the blood ran. ‘See now,’ said the fiddler, ‘you are good for nothing; you can do no work: what a bargain I have got! However, I’ll try and set up a trade in pots and pans, and you shall stand in the market and sell them.’ ‘Alas!’ sighed she, ‘if any of my father’s court should pass by and see me standing in the market, how they will laugh at me!’

But her husband did not care for that, and said she must work, if she did not wish to die of hunger. At first the trade went well; for many people, seeing such a beautiful woman, went to buy her wares, and paid their money without thinking of taking away the goods. They lived on this as long as it lasted; and then her husband bought a fresh lot of ware, and she sat herself down with it in the corner of the market; but a drunken soldier soon came by, and rode his horse against her stall, and broke all her goods into a thousand pieces. Then she began to cry, and knew not what to do. ‘Ah! what will become of me?’ said she; ‘what will my husband say?’ So she ran home and told him all. ‘Who would have thought you would have been so silly,’ said he, ‘as to put an earthenware stall in the corner of the market, where everybody passes? But let us have no more crying; I see you are not fit for this sort of work, so I have been to the king’s palace, and asked if they did not want a kitchen-maid; and they say they will take you, and there you will have plenty to eat.’

Thus the princess became a kitchen-maid, and helped the cook to do all the dirtiest work; but she was allowed to carry home some of the meat that was left, and on this they lived.

She had not been there long before she heard that the king’s eldest son was passing by, going to be married; and she went to one of the windows and looked out. Everything was ready, and all the pomp and brightness of the court was there. Then she bitterly grieved for the pride and folly which had brought her so low. And the servants gave her some of the rich meats, which she put into her basket to take home.

All on a sudden, as she was going out, in came the king’s son in golden clothes; and when he saw a beautiful woman at the door, he took her by the hand, and said she should be his partner in the dance; but she trembled for fear, for she saw that it was King Grisly-beard, who was making sport of her. However, he kept fast hold, and led her in; and the cover of the basket came off, so that the meats in it fell about. Then everybody laughed and jeered at her; and she was so abashed, that she wished herself a thousand feet deep in the earth. She sprang to the door to run away; but on the steps King Grisly-beard overtook her, and brought her back and said, ‘Fear me not! I am the fiddler who has lived with you in the hut. I brought you there because I really loved you. I am also the soldier that overset your stall. I have done all this only to cure you of your silly pride, and to show you the folly of your ill-treatment of me. Now all is over: you have learnt wisdom, and it is time to hold our marriage feast.’

Then the chamberlains came and brought her the most beautiful robes; and her father and his whole court were there already, and welcomed her home on her marriage. Joy was in every face and every heart. The feast was grand; they danced and sang; all were merry; and I only wish that you and I had been of the party.

Categories
Poetry Series

The Witch’s Lair

Once there was a traveler, weak and weary,
Fatigued with the burden of travel and bag on his back,
And many tiny painful stones hiding in his shoes
He carried a bag which held a guitar for he could play
But faint was he, clinging closely to his life,
Hoping to see an inn or a well of water
He sang all the way and so he was exhausted
Evening was fast upon his heels while
Darkness; a vile and unpleasant creature
Which found joy leading tired travelers astray
Clung to every signpost he passed
The clouds gathered, strong winds rehearsed,
Further away, the road walked away from the man
Casting shadows of smoke rising from chimneys
But when he came to each bend, it was rocks,
Huge rocks sitting all about the open field
Adding to the fears the traveler’s heart held
In the growing darkness, he finally found a place
So with his final strength he dragged himself to the door,
As a silent prayer left his breath, then on the wall he leaned
Grasses stood at this doorway with patched gravel
And quarried stones lay littered about, carelessly
He thought someone was counting, counting numbers, numbers…
Then the door flung open!
Alas a miracle, he cried
A young lady peered out…
She brought out an arm
A leg, then other parts of her body followed
In instalments…
“There will be a storm soon, night is here
And if the rain storm came, you won’t find your way
Stay. Come in, have some warm tea… ” She offered
Surely great winds, the emissary of the rain came
Followed by lightnings that tells of a coming storm
There was little time to think, so the traveler went in
During the night it rained heavily, the roads were not seen
Pieces of grass, torn from plants squashed at the window
The house lamps glowed in the thick darkness
Rain drops beat up the window, roughly and hard
But the traveler took fancy of tea and lady’s beauty
Then as he laid his bags down, a chord struck on his guitar
Reminding the traveler of a story about trust and strangers
So he refused the lady’s warm bath offer
And will not take the nut bread she gave too
Lying down at the window, he observed the open fields
From whence he came, he was glad he found a place
His eyes gave way to slumber and he almost slept off
Lightning cracked up shaking the wall, cold kept him awake
The fire licked the wood in the chimney when sleep worried him
No one could say though if the lullaby came from rain
Or from the sugared tea cup offered by the lady,
He thought he saw a fiery creature in one of those lightning
And decided to keep himself awake through the night
“What’s the matter?” The lady asked
She must have perceived the traveler’s unease
”I get fever in storms, do you mind if I played my guitar for a while?’
”I don’t mind, so far you won’t get me sleeping!’ the lady laughed
So the traveler pulled out his guitar and stroke the lines gently
Closing his eyes he began to sing as his fingers worked,
He sang of the crazy fat frog which stole a pretty maiden’s voice,
And the poor orphans who got lost in the Wild woods,
He sang of the three cunny wolves up the rock cleavages
And the pain of traveling alone…
As the rain’s cold grew, he sang the tale of love
Taking his time to romance his guitar’s chords
Finding true words to fall in with the rhythm
And before he could raise his eye the lady was fast asleep
Snoring away, in her sleep a knife dropped from her dress
So the traveler played more until the morning sun
But as he woke the lady to bid her farewell,
She became worried, blushing at the traveler’s bye
Wondering why she slept so long
The traveler found his hat and bags
And before you say Jack was on his way home.
Surely, a man’s gift may save his life

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Uncategorized

The Frogs and the Well

Look at this fable and reflect why we should think twice before acting.

Two frogs lived together in a marsh. But one hot summer the marsh dried up and they left it to look for another place to live in, for frogs like damp places of they can get them. By and by they came to a deep well, and one of them looked down into it and said to the other, “This looks a nice cool place. Let us jump in and settle here.” But the other, who had a wiser head on his shoulders, replied, “Not so fast, my friend. Supposing this well dried up like the marsh, how should we get out again?”

The prudent person looks before leaping.

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Uncategorized

Shepherd’s Tale

Sweet are memories of the fields-
Valley greens and blue clouds,
The frolicsome rabbits and slow worms,
All shades of flowers and singing birds
Replay on the shepherd’s mind

In the morning, was a light shower
The path wet with dew- Heaven’s water
But the sheep went happy, through the misty path
When evening came, the sun’s heat became softer
As the shepherd boy called his flock to gather

Categories
Nature Pastoral

The Boy Who Cried “Wolf”

This is one of Aesop’s most famous fable. It’s old but not rusty. As you read through note that the fastest way to lose what we call our good character is to lose our honesty.

There was once a shepherd boy who kept his flock at a little distance from the village. Once he thought he would play a trick on the villagers and have some fun at their expense. So he ran toward the village crying out, with all his might:

“Wolf! Wolf! Come and help! The wolves are at my lambs!”

The kind villagers left their work and ran to the field to help him. But when they got there the boy laughed at them for their pains; there was no wolf there.

Still another day the boy tried the same trick, and the villagers came running to help and were laughed at again.

Then one day a wolf did break into the fold and began killing the lambs. In great fright, the boy ran back for help. “Wolf! Wolf!” He screamed. “There is a wolf in the flock! Help!”

The villagers heard him, but they thought it was another mean trick; no one paid the least attention, or went near him. And the shepherd boy lost all his sheep.

That is the kind of thing that happens to people who lie: even when they do tell the truth they will not be believed.

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education folklore Igbo culture Series Uncategorized

African myths

Do you know that in Africa there are many ridiculous myths and beliefs? This is not Voodoo or any kind of mystery. Myths do exist. Most times, they are used to scare children, to refrain children and young adults from being rude, behaving wildly or disobeying their parents or elders. So let’s define a myth to get a clearer picture of what it means.

Myths are a commonly-held but false belief, a common misconception; a fictitious or imaginary person or thing; a popular conception about a real person or event which exaggerates or idealizes reality.

Some African myths include:

* Do not sweep in the quiet night, when everyone is asleep! I even heard that anyone who sweeps late in the midnight will get himself arrested by ghosts! Haha, outrageous right? But the excitement goes when you find out this is far from reality.

* No whistling in the night! I guess this is funny to you. But wait! Ghosts may slap the whistler, and a part of the face turned black!

* Don’t take fish from some streams. Honestly, I can recall several warnings not to fish or take any creature from some selected streams and ponds. I even remember killing a crab, took it home and was asked to return it to the stream with apologies! Also, if you deliberately collected a fish while fetching water from the stream, then the stream may violently visit you! It wasn’t funny then, but one must respect the myth anyway.

* To know whether a person is a ghost, bend down and look through your spread legs. It is believed that when one does this, you will see people who their feet barely touch the ground. Mind you, doing this actually gets ghosts angry. I’ve never tried this before. I’m not scared, just feel it’s a complete waste of time.

* If you sleep beneath a spider web you may have bad dreams. A lot of people said this is true. I’m not sure since spiders are just another living creature.

* When you sneeze often then someone is actually thinking about you. Familiar right? I believe this one. But there’s no fact to backup that it’s true. Till then let’s keep it as a myth, unless you think otherwise.

There are many myths around here. I’ll be updating some other time. Good night from here.

Categories
Poetry

A Shepherds Song

I see the golden sun rise far away,

Waking the countryside, painting the day

The clouds glitter, no amount of gold can define this:

The smell of dew on dry clay and the life all around me

The Earth is awake and alive, and we must keep her so

It is time to march the flock through the hilly grazing land

***

First, was the peaceful journey through the vast grassland

Where daffodils, dandelions, mistletoes and guinea grew

And the wading through the little stream that flowed quietly

So that one could hear the fish swim against the waters tide,

Then came the fields of wild grass and their lovely scent

I sat beneath the tree shade and let the sheep treat themselves!

***

The tree roots are my favorite seat, the mushrooms are cushions

Sometimes my thoughts drown in the music the sheep and birds make

The light colored birds fly above me, up in the trees they gather

To watch the queer meeting of white wool spread across the green grass

Some bolder birds came down to join the massive feast

Picking stray insects that fled the grasses as the sheep grazed

*** {so I sang my song…}

Down by the riverside, I must wait for my flock to graze,

I must listen to the beautiful young lamb call out to their mothers,

And I must wait for the sun to set and the breezy evening to come

Now the thoughts of my warm bed, stacked with hay come to me

And the night skies, which when besieged by glittering stars

Tell a lot of stories that takes me, joyfully to dreamland

Categories
Poetry

Ina murna (I’m excited) 

The snaky road twisted, here and there

Passing pockets of forests tucked away,

And when it ended at the foot of Ugwu Uwaoma

I saw the palm trees lead a welcome song

At the foot of the hill a banner hung

Bearing Mama’s poster and details…

***

Now I stand before thee, oh great hill

The land of my grandfathers and my fathers’

For it gives great joy to see you always, beloved land

I taste of your warm waters in the streams that flow

I sing with the birds when they make their fine nests

Oh, the plum and mango fall in the evening

I hear the little happy children hustle for them

I stay awake to watch the stars that grace your nights

The children tell me of the day and moon light tales

When the days end, we gather to enjoy the cool evening breeze

To recall the events, old and fresh, good and sad

And to riddle on jokes and remember the joy of homecoming

***

Now I sit with the elders who tell how things changed

“Nna, you see in those days we eat raw grasses and fruits,

Now you amaze us with all these food that grow in can bellies”

“The pants we wore had much space for adjustments on the waist

I wonder why the new generation keep theirs below the loins!”

They smile, they love, and appreciate all that happen around them

Oh great land! Now granny will be laid to rest in you forever

I am confused, I am not sure I will find a better tale teller!

But I will try to put all she has said and taught to paper

My face is gloomy and delighted; I have come to you my land,

But I have come because I must my granny bury in you, my land!
**

Notes.

For my granny, Late Uluocha Chinyere Duruoha. I must say that this beautiful soul has impacts in me much than I can imagine. Her confidence, her peace, her strive for excellence and intelligence. Most important of all she has taught me the act of tale telling. I will miss her much. I have been motivated by the tales she told, even the ones she told of her husband who fought in World War 2 in Tripoli and the Middle East and about the Biafran war. She has a warm place for culture and tradition and enjoys others company. Adieu mama.

Rest in peace mama! Good night, my tale teller.

Ina murna: Hausa language for I am happy, excited or delighted. Normally used to express happiness or joy.

Ugwu Uwaoma: A hilly land located in Ovim, my hometown.

Categories
Poetry

Folktale: The Animal king

Gather now… Come closer
Warm your hands, sit near the fire
It is a cold evening, is it?

I have a folktale for you, 

And I hope it prepares everyone for a fine sleep… 

 

Once upon a time
In a land far away
Across seven rivers
And seven hills
Lived a clan of animals
Then there was no strife
No envy, no rivalry
Between the clan of animals
For then the strife held not
Cause there was no king
No ruler, no master of any sort
But animals who lived freely
Tilled their land as they wished
When they wanted to and so on
Then some stronger animals
Felt they could bully others
So many animals started trespassing
Some took others lands
Some marched on others crops
And some hijacked others wives
So, Anarchy decided to spread
Her blanket of no good
Upon the animal clan
Until the Cricket suggested
That all head homes should meet
To resolve this…

So during the meeting
Everybody sat down quietly
And waited for someone to talk
Mumblings filled the arena
Guilt of crimes wont let anyone speak
The mosquitoes, carefree buzzed aloud
‘Wait!’ the Cricket yelled
‘I greet you all’ he began politely
‘The way to solve this menace
Is to appoint a King who will rule us
Someone who will bring justice
And fairness to both big and small’
‘Nice idea’, his relatives called after him
‘Now I am the brain of the meeting
I should be allowed to nominate
My humble self as the King of the clan!’
‘What? Why?’ an angry Elephant trumpeted
‘You little thing, so minute, so irrelevant!
How dare you even think of that
When someone like me is here?
I should be the King undisputed!’
‘You all must be joking!’ laughed the Giraffe
‘How can you become the King
When you are just round like football
And can’t even move a leg higher?
No no no, it just doesn’t fit you
Well, take a look at me and my length
I interact with the moon
And when angry I ate her half!
I should be the King instead!’
The whole clan went dead with silence
They thought the Elephant would retaliate
So they waited for the worst to happen
But nothing happened…
‘Let me be the King’ the ape called out
‘None of you is so capable of tree climbing
And infact I can swing and dance up the skies
You don’t know this feeling of tree dwelling
The skies are my playground… Can’t you see?’
‘Talking about playground, you are out of it!’
The Eagle whined…
‘I live in mountain peaks
Where none of you can reach
Or dare reach and I am the master
Master of the blue clouds and wind
Make me your king!’
‘Talking about flying you are not alone in it’
A mosquito stood to talk
‘How many of you can sing in a human ear
And make him slap himself madly?’
‘No way, who speaks now?’ the Lion growled
‘The kingship belongs to I and the pride
The pride is strong and courageous
And can defend and take care of the clan
My roars frighten our enemies
My claws are fine killing machines!’
‘No sir, was it not one of your pride members
That slaughtered an innocent sheep the other day?
We can’t let you be our King’
Someone yelled from the crowd
‘So what do we do right now?’
Let us then nominate from those
Who showed interest in the position’
An elderly Parrot suggested
‘Please everyone should point at their candidate’
To the crowds surprise
Everyone pointed to their kith
The Giraffes to the Giraffes
The Apes to their kind
The Pride to the Lions
And so on…

And when no head way was made
Everyone nominated himself for Kingship
Since everyone was to be the King
They all left fighting and arguing
And so is the animal clan
In much confusion till this very day!

Image from Www.123RF.com

Categories
Poetry

Three musings:  Evening, wet Earth and Love

One: The evening tide

Fast falls the evening tide

So gather around the fireside,

Let us savor this taste of Nature; 

Her soft songs, breezes and lecture
Two: The wet Earth

The sun set before our eyes

The wet earth is left to dry

For the days heavy rain has left

And with her, all benevolent escorts
Three: Love

Now the night fast approaches

Let us pride on humble speeches

Exhalting the need to love more

And welcoming all to our doors

Categories
Poetry

Once upon a time… 


Once upon a time you preferred the silence to my love
Then trees leaves fell, they fall quietly and so you went

Once I held your hands in deep love and we walked the paths, 

And you told of our future but now you will not see me anymore

We played together, you were my favorite and I was your cherish

But where are you now, where are we dear? 

Old memories is all that lay on my paper 

Once I knew you, once I loved you and once we had all

But that was once upon a time… 

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The Messenger, part 2

The dark evening is serene and calm
Though the vampire bats hover up the skies
And the little crickets quiz all around…

Many sat for dinner for it was a long day
The farms, the ponds and the big market
The smell of dried cod soup pass thru the air,
It was a favorite among the villagers
And this smell always gave away people
For the village longthroats, a feast is imminent
But it is a pleasant smell, one I savor so much
Now and then, we hear someone yawn heavily
From nearby compounds, I assume it was out of tiredness
Sometimes the moon came out, sometimes it didn’t
When the moon came out, the children gather for moon-lit plays;
Hide and Seek, Sand games or a nice folk tale
To be told by the most elderly in the gathering

Soon the blast of a metal gong goes off
”Kookokoorokom… Koorokoorokom…!”
The hamlet retires to great silence
Crying babies stay put suddenly
For the masquerades of which Maama
Always spoke of has now appeared!
Even Maama was quiet, perhaps scared
For she also paid attention to the intruder
”The people of Amaigbo, the elders, the men
The women, the youth, the boys, the girls, everyone!
Listen, I have come oo… I have come again oo!”
The messenger will call out, loudly
Waking sleeping dogs and the heavy sleepers
With those words the messenger struck again
Mercilessly upon his metal gong, two more…
Then he settled into his long message…
Beating the metal gong on intervals,
It could be about the new yam festival
A special village or Kings service request
Cleaning of the nearby streams and rivulets
Or when a group of peoples attention is required

When the messenger exhausts his messages
He leaves quietly, hitting his gong noiselessly
Allowing the hamlet to go back to her life,
The women to return their attention to the soup
The men to continue sipping their palmwine
The boys and girls playing under the tree shed
And allowing the infants to resume their crying

Commentary.
This is a continuation of a poem I wrote some years ago. The messenger or town crier, as commonly called is an agent of the traditional society or kingdom. His role is to pass information across to the people, just like the duties of the modern day TeeVee or Radio.

KoKorokrom… A sound made by hitting the metal gong.
Amaigbo… An imagined place

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Folk: One night, one story

It has been long I left my village
And they must have felt my absence
For the moon still shone always
But then no one to tell the childrens tales
I missed seeing the grey bearded moon
I missed the serenity of the countryside
I missed seeing the birds circle the sky
And the calls of the wild when all is quiet
I missed friendly and homely smiles
I missed the wisdom the old folk gave me
And I missed walking thru the fields
Lonely and hopeful of seeing a wild animal
I missed eating smoke fish and melon balls
I missed feeling powerful for slaying a snake
In the farm and for demolishing loaves of garri…
Hmmm I missed it, mostly missed the quietness
Of the hamlet when all left for work or the farm
***
Now I went back for some rest
An escape from the city’s noise
Oh, I so hate the hustle bustle…
***
Nothing much changed…
Save from new growing trees
And old stubs halfcut from the middle
As usual the airs were welcoming
The evenings like a sweet paradise
And the people nothing new…
Save from new born babies
Suckling away at their mothers breast
Yelling wildly at slightest provocation
The trees have no fresh fruit
I have learnt I came when the harvest
Is done- well, I missed home so much
***
”Pay attention to this little tale
Of a land far far away…
Where stays a lake, quiet and calm
And on it, lived a duck and her family
Three ducks names- Daak, Deek and Duuk
They so much enjoyed the cool lake
The serenity which was unrivalled
In the whole land…
***
‘Quack quack Daak’ she began
Turning to the nearest duck
‘You have been friends
With the old grey Turtle
You know the Lakes’ waters
More than your siblings
But I pray, tell me
How many times would
Something happen to you
And you would learn?’
‘Quack quack mother
Sure I would learn, but only
When it happen, and all times!’
The first duck answered
Mother Duck nodded thoughtfully
And turned to the next duck
‘Quack quack Duuk, come closer
You are not scared of the weeds
You even fought off the black Eels
But tell me, my little brave one
How many times will you learn?’
‘Quack quack mother
But I can only learn If it happened to me’
Mother Duck nodded thoughtfully
And she turned to the last
‘Quack quack Little Deek
You are scared of all ripples
And the neighborhood fishes
You have made only few friends
I wonder, but let me know
How many times will you learn?’
‘Quack quack mother
I won’t learn from any misdids
I shall learn from others mistakes
I shall watch the Eels movements
And all crafty ripples upon the lake
That are not made by my kind
And I shall always be careful
For to survival, one must be cautious’

Commentary:
Well said Little Deek Duck! I guess but I think she is the wisest duck I ever saw in my life!
Sometimes, it is better to follow events with wits… Not falling victim/prey to what comes our way. learning from peoples past mistakes and not trying to repeat those. Being friendly and brave might not be enough to cushion challenges/problems/issues we face… We need to be cautious.

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Rainmakers’ tales: 2 tales of Oke- Iroegbu

When I am not making the rain fall
And flood the villagers huts and farms
And to make the river banks overflow
So that the forests pathway is swampy
And the great crocodiles are washed ashore;
Then I will be watching the glittering stars
And talking about the stars, the night and moon
Well, the night is never complete without a tale
For the sleepy little ones,
But this time, no reading from a book
I shall tell you of the Forest and her folks
… Oke- Iroegbu

(a)
Once when the Forests owned all the land
And the Forest King has loved the greens
For it spread, such that the white mountains
Were covered with green grasses and plants
The Wind truly loved the look on the Mountain
For during the Winter, she had grown terribly cold
That she felt absolutely nothing even for the Wind
Then she had no dimples, no smiles, no blushing
Then it was only the Tomato that blushed about
Tanners, farmers, pupeteers called out to her
And all she could was smile and blush deep red
The Ice King wooed the Mountain and usually
Gathered about her face to give her a warm kiss
But this never went down well with the cool Wind
Now that the Ice King has gone with his captains
And Summer has come, the Forests came with their greens
How awlful, the Wind felt all year round
Seemed he was just a big time born loser!
But the true logic being that the Mountain
Was never meant for this young Wind

(b)
Now it was the tradition that the young men
Cut wood in the neighboring green forests
Before they can be allowed to chose a maiden
There was no axes in the town and near hamlets
And men were desperate for things
Even when they are not ready and ripe for it
Mirtle was a young man, despised and frail
Naturally dull, but deep inside he was a man
The youth of the hamlet, saw him as a weakling
And infact unfit for this great competition
So he was abandoned, and the other men
Went deep into the hearts of the green forest
Looking for wood, for there was no axe then
Then came dwarves walking about the hamlet
Without food or warm clothing
And night came upon them daily
And they starve and want warmness
And no one cared or even looked at them
For the villagers loathed the dwarves
But not all of them were villains
The weak Mirtle might be weak physically
But he had compassion and love
And knew what it meant to be cold
Not from the treacherous night weather
But from the hatred that lurks in peoples hearts
Mirtle gave his food and warm cloths
To some of the dying dwarves
Sharing with them till he had none
One night, the Chief Dwarf presented a gift
And lo! An axe, not just ordinary
And so Mirtle had wood and a fair maid
For his kindness to strangers in need

I knew you got the message, I had imagined and made this story to teach about love and kindness. Abraham entertained angels without knowing it.

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Another Tale of a Shepherd

Nothing compares to the sweet sleep
Of all good and hardworking shepherds
He retires with a fine and adorable smile
And to his bed of wool, he lays
Tuning into the local radio station
To listen to some old folk songs
Nodding almost silently to the rhythm
Smiling to the memories of the stressful day
And the little Lavender he found on the way

The night is quiet, warm and cosy
The moon is wearing a cute smiley
But to his lonely blanket he clings
As the duckling will to the Hens wings
And the air about is moist and fresh
This is his own warm and perfect nest
Thanks to the open wooden window
The light in the room is very low
And there is enough breeze to go around
Even the noisy brown crickets are ignored
The screeching of all strange insects-
The nomads of the quiet nights
Rent the air, disturbing companions
But the lonely Shepherd slept on
And soon a beautiful dream
One of fantasy; milk, honey a-swimming
Shall dawn upon his big and weary head
And so, in such times he laughs out aloud!

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A farmers smile

The days work is done
The farmer return with smiles
The mother hold the little one
And welcome him who labor
The infant grips the fathers arm
Afraid not to let go
A lullaby from this voice he waits for

“All is well”
A tale of farmlore
The strength of the farmer
Gone beyond the hills
With might and courage
To the great virgin forests
And when the setting sun
Come sinking to her slumber
The farmers hat appears far off
Waving to the onlookers
As he march home with smiles
Love, hope and food