Africa culture/tradition education folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry



Kokookoroko kokorokoro
A greeting called from afar
The children ran out excited
As if the message was for them
But then who knows?
Heads up, listen attentively
Komkom korookom
Another beat rang out
Pushing the mild hit
Into the ears of the heaviest village sleeper
‘Oh how cute, it is one of the King’s messengers’
‘A tall and fine one for that matter’
A group of young women chatter

The morning of a market day
Even before the sun starts his journey
The gong goes before the man,
A metal gong tells the whole clan
The tidings of the hamlet
The days not to visit the rivulet
The day to farm the deep forest
And when a service the King request,
The boxing day, a vengeful day,
Of long brooms stalked away
Up the roof barns where fish smoke,
And the wielder showing teeth tobacco soiled

When the messenger comes
Mama will always say
To bright little ones
‘Listen attentively, listen with your ears
They might have a message for you or you,
From the King or the brave hunters
Come from across the seven hills
And seven rivers of Far Away Land
So you must listen attentively
There must be wisdom in every muttering’

Then each time it all comes to me
Even now I on my face keep beards
I still listen when all is quiet
Then in my mind goes Krookoko-kom-kom!


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Krookokom… As in Onomatopoeia of sound made by gongs.

Africa culture/tradition education folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral

Tradition: Breaking the Kola nut

Onye wetara oji wetara ndu (Igbo)

He who brings Kola brings life…

Kola nut is a symbol of hospitality and friendship in Nigeria. While other food can be cooked, the Kola nut needs no special preparation before presentation. It’s a bitter fruit of the Kola tree¶, grown all over tropical Africa.

In Igbo land, Kola nut is a cultural staple held in high esteem. It is sometimes referred to as King of all foods. It is a sacrificial lobe revered; no child or woman can tamper or joke with it. Every piece of it is considered sacred and can’t be wasted or destroyed unless it’s spoilt.

Usually, the oldest man among the host audience is asked to bless the Kola nuts. He will take one of the nuts in his right hand and makes a blessing, prayer, or toast using a proverb, e.g.

‘ihe dï mma onye n’achö, ö ga-afü ya.’

‘Whatever good he is looking for, he will see it.’

Generally, Kola nut is presented in festivities, in ceremonies, and primarily used to welcome visitors. They are offered with prayers of thanksgiving and supplication to Chineke. After prayers are said, then Kola nut can be broken and shared in bits to visitors. Sometimes it’s served with garden eggs, bitter cola, alligator pepper, peanut butter, and palm wine.

As mentioned before, it is the breaking that is a significant part of the ceremony. The more pieces the Kola breaks up to, the more prosperity it gives to its presenter and visitors. Though there is one exception: if the nut yields only to two parts, it signifies no good as it signals that the presenter has a sinister motive behind the Kola. Because of that, Kola nuts with only two parts are avoided for this ceremony, and therefore the purple/reddish colored nuts, cola acuminata are preferred over its greyish counterpart, the cola nitida, as the latter one only breaks up in two. Four parts coincide with the four market days of the Igbo week. Five or more broken pieces mean prosperity for the family. In some parts of Igboland, when the Kola breaks into six, a separate celebration is required, and sometimes even including the slaughter of a goat.

Many other rules are surrounding the Kola nut ceremony. Kola nut should only be presented with two hands at the same time, and also, as the Kola tree is associated with man, only men can climb and pluck the Kola tree.

Learn the Igbo language here.


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¶ Don’t confuse the Bitter Cola with the Kola nut. They are quite different plants.
Chineke: God in Igbo language.
Nkwo, Eke, Afor, Orie: Market days in Igbo land.

Africa culture/tradition education folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral

Folktale: The Tortoise and His Broken Shell

Gather around friends. How was your day today? Good to know it was fine. Mine wasn’t bad either. I hope this breezy evening gives us more than this beautiful folktale I’m about to tell. Remember to note the morals that accompany it. I have also italicized the proverb in the story.

Once upon a time, all the birds were invited to a feast in the sky. They were thrilled and began to prepare themselves for the great day. They painted their bodies with red camwood and drew beautiful patterns on their bodies with uli*.

Tortoise saw all these preparations and soon discovered what was about happening. He was full of cunning and greed. As soon as he heard of the great feast in the sky, his throat began to itch at the very thought. There was a famine in those days, and he had not eaten a good meal for two moons. So he began to plan how he would go to the sky. The tortoise had no wings, so he went to the birds and asked to go with them.

“We know you too well,” said the birds when they heard him. “You are full of cunning, and you are ungrateful. If we allow you to come with us, you will soon begin your mischief.”

“You do not know me,” said Tortoise. “I am a changed person. I have learned that a man who makes trouble for others is also making it for himself.”

The tortoise had a sweet tongue, and within a short time, all the birds agreed that he was a changed person, and they each gave him a feather with which he made two wings.

At last, the great day came, and Tortoise was the first to arrive at the meeting place. When all the birds had gathered together, they set off in a body. The tortoise was very happy as he flew among the birds, and he was soon chosen as the person to speak for the party because he was a great orator.

“There is one important thing which we must not forget,” he said as they flew on their way. “When people are invited to a great feast like this, they take new names for the occasion. Our hosts in the sky will expect us to honor this age-old custom.”

None of the birds had heard of this custom, but they knew that Tortoise, despite his failings in other directions, was a widely-traveled man who knew the traditions of different peoples. And so they each took a new name. When they had all taken, Tortoise also took one. He was to be called “All of you.”

At last, the party arrived in the sky, and their hosts were pleased to see them. Tortoise stood up in his many-colored plumage and thanked them for their invitation. His speech was so eloquent that all the birds were glad they had brought him and nodded their heads in approval of all he said. Their hosts took him as the King of the birds, especially as he looked somewhat different from the others.

After kola nuts were presented and eaten, the people of the sky set before their guests; the sweetest dishes Tortoise had ever seen or dreamed of. The soup was brought out hot from the fire and in the same pot in which it had been cooked. It was full of meat and fish. There were pounded yam and also yam pottage cooked with palm-oil and fresh fish. There were also pots of palm-wine. When everything had been set before the guests, one of the people of the sky came forward and tasted a little from each jar. He then invited the birds to eat. But Tortoise jumped to his feet and asked: “For who has you prepared this feast?”

“For all of you,” replied the man.
Tortoise turned to the birds and said, “You remember that my name is All of you. The custom here is to serve the spokesman first and the others later. They will serve you when I have eaten.”

He began to eat, and the birds grumbled angrily. The people of the sky thought it must be their custom to leave all the food for their King. So Tortoise ate the best part of the food and drank two pots of palm-wine so that he was full of food and drink and his body filled out in his shell.

The birds gathered round to eat what was left and to peck, at the bones he had thrown all about the floor. Some of them were too angry to eat. They chose to fly home on an empty stomach. But before they left, each took back the feather he had lent to Tortoise. And there he stood in his hard shell full of food and wine but without any wings to fly home. He asked the birds to take a message for his wife, but they all refused. In the end, Parrot, who had felt angrier than the others, suddenly changed his mind and agreed to take the message.

“Tell my wife,” said Tortoise, “to bring out all the soft things in my house and cover the compound with them so that I can jump down from the sky without much danger.”

Learn the Igbo language here.

Parrot promised to deliver the message and then flew away with the others. But when he reached Tortoise’s house, he told his wife to bring out all the hard things in the place. And so she brought out her husband’s hoes, machetes, spears, guns, and even his cannon. Tortoise looked down from the sky and saw his wife bringing things out, but it was too far to see what they were. When all seemed ready, he let himself go. He fell and fell and fell until he began to fear that he would never stop falling. And then, like the sound of his cannon, he crashed on the compound.

His shell broke into pieces. Luckily there was a great medicine man in the neighborhood. Tortoise’s wife sent for him, and he gathered all the bits of shell and stuck them together. That is why Tortoise’s body is not smooth.

Africa culture/tradition Igbo culture Nature Pastoral Poetry

Four Nature Poems with Deborah Nnagbo, Shawny Johnson and Franklin Onuoha

Ogbunike Cave by Deborah Nnagbo

There it lies with an open mouth,
Basking in the unadulterated air of tradition.
Bidding me to come in unto her,
Inside the sacred forest guarding the glory of a race.

Slowly, I tiptoed into natures edifice.
With eyes clothed with wonder.
I could not but see the finger of Chineke
In all shades and forms of the cave.

Ogbunike cave, ancestral home.
The hidden abode of friendly bats.
The meeting place of our ancestors.
Crawling up and down your little hills stirs up nostalgic feelings of my childhood.

Thou hast revived the strangled reality of Igbo culture in me.
And lured my heart to crave for the riches of thy land.
Your stream of nativity has revealed my identity.
I shall no more wander like a homeless lass when I have a room in you.

Formed by Shawny Johnson

Above and beyond
Falling to produce greatness
Running in the DNA of grains cultivating food of earthy particles pushing through the rhythm of GOD’s timing
Purposed for a destined designed
portrait of his own imagery cycling over again recreating the dust that formed the pleasure of you and I being man and man within
With rain drops cleaning away the imperfections of our disconnections from the ground that needs the same rain from the clouds that clash In dances only GOD can orchestrate to give life that we may live on

Nature’s Touch by Franklin Onuoha

It throws me into wild ecstasy
To see the bamboo
Twirl and dance
To the rhythm of the wind

And when I see the leaves
Of the Ukpaka tree wave at me
I feel at home because even the trees know
That I’m a son of the soil

The euphonious dawn chorus
From the morning birds
Fills me with the optimism
To face the day’s task

And the chirping
Of the crickets at night
Is a sweet sounding lullaby
To my weary head

Oh! How I love the caress
Of the evening breeze
And the sound of the flowing streams
Which soothes my perturbed nerves

Home is where I want to be
Where nature speaks to me
And reminds me of who I am
I’m African

The Waterfalls by OkeChukwu Iroegbu

Thou water that fall from the skies
Pleasing to my weary ears,
Your sounds wake my sweet sensation
Ah, you are then my inspiration
When you trap me in your web
I wonder freely
How much of your sounds I must listen to
With each passing day

Thou water that fall from the skies
Pleasing to my weary foot,
Your songs sooth away my pain
I’m at ease, when you win
Now you take the moment
When you spray your mild water
And with your falling white matter
You distinguish mud from water

Africa Igbo culture Nature Pastoral Series Uncategorized

Tradition: Iri Ji Festival

Let us pray (ka anyi kpe ekpere)
Nna anyi, we gather again
To celebrate the New Yam!
The King of all crops
Which you blessed us with
The crop whose soft tendrils crawl,
Through our fine, fertile soil
And carries with it abundance,
Greatness, joy, peace and love!
We celebrate the forests You till
On our behalf,
The greenery with shrubs and trees
With every fruit that we desire
And every kola and food we relish!
We celebrate the waters about it
The Waterfalls that surrounds it
The streams and rivers that feed it
And rainy blessings which You brought

Learn Igbo language and culture here.

As we split this yam,
We split open doors locking our treasures
And fortunes
Let every tasteless thing in our lives
Receive this new taste of life!
We split open the delays holding our blessings
So let the hills and valleys grow in abundance of food
As You provided the forests and rivers,
The Yams and the palm oil and kola!
We plead for the knife
With which to cut our Yams!
Let our lives be fresh like the morning palm wine
And tasteful to ourselves, clan and  community
We eat the New Yam!

Nna anyi: Igbo language for ‘Our Father’

☺️ Welcome to Igbo land, situated in the south of Nigeria. A tribe known for their resourcefulness and love for their culture and traditions. The piece above depicts a casual prayer made in preparation to the New Yam festival.

August is a beautiful month for the Igbo people. The most prominent activity recorded across Igbo land this month is the celebration of the ‘New Yam’ festival. Yams are perceived as the King of all crops and most times are harvested first in the region. The New Yam festival is a celebration of the prominence of the crop in the region.

The evening prior to the day of the festival, all old yams (from the previous year’s crop) are consumed or discarded. This is because it is believed that the New Year must begin with tasty, fresh yams instead of the old dried-up crops of the previous year. The next day, only dishes of yam are served at the feast, as the festival is symbolic of the abundance of the produce.


Introducing the African Folklore

Folklore are tales, legends, superstitions of a particular ethnic population. In Igbo and other African societies, story telling is unique, such that it is a passage to transmit the culture and tradition from one generation to another. These tales generally convey the history, messages and old knowledge. They are meant to teach morals and virtues to younger people. I have been privileged to remember some tales. I was very close to the older folk in the community. I love the rural life and always traveled with my aunt during school holidays to my hometown to stay with my Grandma. On one occasion, I recall traveling with my aunt and in the hurry forgot all my shorts save from the one I traveled on. As my Grandma had no boy and so couldn’t provide shorts I was made to wear skirts. It amuses me when I remember that; running around with other kids in my red skirt! I was very little and prefered the skirt to going naked. They still call me Mr Piper, after the famous Scottish wrestler and we all laugh over it.

Most times, tales are told in the evening, after dinner and when everyone was back from work. In extended and nuclear families, tales are normally told near a charcoal fire outside, preferably under the shed of a tree, on a moon light night. If the tale was to be heard by all, then it will be near the village square. The story teller mostly will be an elderly person. We the younger ones had tried our hands in story telling. I guess this was the origin of my interest in story telling.

Learn Igbo language here.

Tortoise is the primary actor or villain in Igbo tales. He is portrayed as a shrewd person who cunningly gets what he wants and sometimes fails. According to my Grandma and my aunt, Alibo is the name of the Tortoise wife. I can’t remember the sons’ name but it will not matter, he can always bear the son of the Tortoise. There are other notable characters in African folk; the dog, snake, boar, elephant, lion, crocodile, cricket, leopard and the rest. Mind you, the names one ethnic group give their characters may differ from another. I hope you enjoy the tales.


Tradition: Breaking the Igbo Kola nut 2 (Iwa oji Igbo)

Onye wetara oji, wetara ndu. Ndi be anyi ekelem unu oo.

God, our tryst maker! Chinekem ke b’nigwe!

One that holds the Earth with bare hands

And causes the winds to soar where You wills

My God, we have gathered once again to celebrate

To enjoy the life which you have blessed us with!

Nna anyi ukwu, You hold the knife and the yam

You give the sunshine and the rainfall to everyone-

The bad and the good, all savor the providence You gave

Now we bring the kola nut before You

We bless, we pray that we remain fruitful as this fruit

That the streams give us fish, the land more yams

And the farms much more fruitful than yesterdays harvest

We break this kola nut, and as it breaks

So shall our enemies and foes break!

Let the Eagle perch, let also the Kite,

Any that forbids the other from perching

May the wings break!

May our children bear children like the Hebrew

May the winds bring us good tidings and fair weather

May our friendship knows no limits but greatness

And may this kola nut bring us all good fortune!

Learn the Igbo language here.


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Commentary: The Igbo tribe is an Eastern Nigerian tribe. They are known for their prowess in business, enterprise, and commerce wherever they settle. This piece is a traditional prayer of the Igbo people used to welcome visitors and to bless marriages, friendships, goodwill, and ventures.

Onye wetara oji, wetara ndu. Ndi be anyi ekelem unu oo: Him that brings the kola brings life.

Chinekem ke b’nigwe: My God, who lives in Heaven.

Nna any ukwu: Our great Father

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Nnem (My Mother)

Nnem oma, my sweet mother

My best friend!

Onyem, m ji eme onu

Daada! Thinking of you

Gives me great joy!

My first love, my creator!

Ina enyem obi anuri,

Ina akasim obi,

I can not quantify this joy

You are my blessing


Learn Igbo language here.



I think everyone should be appreciative of their mothers. Infact I am blessed with a loving mother. A teacher, a disciplinarian and a lover of God. They say when counting your blessings count your mother twice. This is a piece for my mother. She works so hard and has taken many sacrifices alone (husband deceased) to bring her children up. I salute all mothers.

I know I have expressed some terms in Igbo language ’cause I couldn’t find the right English words. I will try to translate.

Nnem oma: my good mother

Onyem, m ji eme onu: my own, the one I brag with

Daada: used to greet matured people

Ina enyem obi anuri: you give me joy

Ina akasim obi: my comforter

Nkechinyerem: The one God has given me


Breaking the Igbo Kola Nut

God our tryst maker
Our lover and He who knows all
Chineke m, ke bi nigwe!
Maker of the Universe
He whom fetches water with a basket
To disgrace the bucket
He who whips us with one hand
And consoles us with the other
He who stills a raging sea
He who made the Kola nut
The King of all foods!
We come to You, our maker
We break the Kola nut
Before You, maker of the Kola
The food that never fills the stomach
But it is the King of all food!
We have the Cassava and the Yam
But the Kola is the King of all food
It is not eaten with Palm oil
It is not pounded on mortar
Nor stewed in a dish of porridge
It is not meshed in meat or fish
It stands alone, all alone
Like the Iroko in the forest!
It is not food for children
But this food is for men!
Our farms shall be fruitful
Our children more fruitful
Our streams shall have fish
And our forests shall have vegetables
The heat of the sun won’t scorch us to death
The pain of pregnant women
Shall become a joy in the morning
The clouds shall water our gardens
We shall eat of our sweat
Make us contented with what we have
You have given us the yam
You have also given us the knife to cut it

Learn the Igbo language here.

Let the moon shine when she must
Let the Sunshine when she must
Let the wind bring us good tidings
And let us see many smiles
On the faces of all in the hamlet
Let the Eagle perch
Let also the Kite perch
Any that forbids the other from perching
Let his wings break!
If one seeks downfall for us
Let such befall those people
Let not our enemies hostile light burn us
We shall have our children as the Hebrew women
Our children shall have their own
And our children’s children
We break the Kola!
Iri di nwata na okenye nma!

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I wrote this poem some time ago. I had found it necessary to revise and edit some lines of the piece, seeing that tradition is something dynamic. I seek to share a bit of my African culture. The Igbo is a South Eastern Nigerian tribe, an enterprising nation situated on the Niger Delta of Nigeria. As a growing kid some
decades ago, I have witnessed Igbo Kola breaking
traditions- a series of cultural rituals performed more like prayers. It’s typically used to welcome visitors, especially at festivities.

Line 3: Chineke m, ke bi nigwe: Igbo language for My God who lives in Heaven.
Line 55: iri di nwata na okenye nma! Igbo for food good for both the young and elderly
Study Questions.
1. What are the figures of speech present in the poem?
2. Discuss the imagery.
3. Would you classify this as a traditional poem? Why?

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