Amazing Igbo folk tales

The Igbo people, is rich in culture, customs and traditions and one of the tenets that has survived the rage of civilization and modernization is the art of storytelling.  Interesting and educative folktales which have been passed down from generations to generations from the ancestors’ are told to children in the bid to preserve the norms and culture of the tribe, imbibe good morals and instill the spirit of communal love amongst members of their society.
These Igbo folktales which paint colourful pictures of spiritual life and traditional aspirations are regarded as fictitious, incredible, mythical and totally removed from real life situations. However, with regards to their functionality, these folktales exhibit elements of truth that translate into realism.
Usually accompanied with a song, this folktale tells of a young pretty girl who meets a great misfortune due to her defiance and decision to disobey her parents. Set in a time when demons and spirits roamed around villages, the girl called “Obaledo” was instructed by her parent before embarking on their trip, to remain within the confines of their home and  eat just yam and snail when hungry. The parents asked that she roast the yam first before the snail, as the snail would eventually quench the fire. Unfortunately, the girl, being greedy and having a strong lust for meat, roasted the snail first and fire went off. Still hungry, she set out of her home, in disobedience to her parents, to get a matchstick from neighbors. On her way, she encounters a demon that steals her beauty and leaves her with his own ugliness.
The King’s Drum
This story tells about a greedy tortoise who ends up trapping himself in his own greed. The tortoise, envious of a rich king who had a drum that would produce food and great wealth each time it was beaten, set a trap for the king’s wife, and when she fell for it, he demanded the drum as his only compensation. Unknown to him however, the drum only produced the luxury he has seen on certain conditions and was bound by a juju.  Eventually, the tortoise and his children break the juju that was bound to the drum and instead of food and riches, each time he beat the drum, some men will emerge and whip him thoroughly. Defeated, the tortoise and his family  made their home underneath the prickly tree, and according to the tale, that is the reason tortoises are always found living under the prickly tie-tie palm, as they have nowhere else to go to for food.
The disobedient daughter who married a skull
This tale narrates the story of a maiden who was so pretty she had suitor from around the world. Unfortunately, she was very picky and was never satisfied with any of the offers. A demon from the spirit world in the form of a skull , fell in love with her and was determined to marry her. He went round villages collecting body parts and became extraordinary handsome. As expected, the maiden fell in love with him once she set her eyes on him and agreed to marry him. After the marriage, the demon took the maiden to the spirit world where she suffered. She was however very nice and helpful to the demon’s mother and in appreciation of her acts of kindness, the demon’s mother helped her escape and sent her back to her parents. On getting to her parents’ home, the father asked her to marry a friend of his, and she willingly consented, and lived with him for many years, and had many children.
Why a Hawk kills Chickens
More of a fable than a story, this tale tries to justify or give reason to why the hawk always attacks the chicken or steals the hen’s chicks. The story tells of a love story between the hawk and a pretty hen which was aborted by a desperate cock who was in love with the hen. After the hawk had paid the bride price of the hen, married her and taken her to the land of the Hawks, a desperate cock who encountered her fell in love with her and crowed beautifully when he accosted her. Unable to resist the sweet sound of the crow, she absconds her husband’s house and returns to the land of fowls with the cock. Angry and feeling cheated, the hawk demanded for a return of his dowry as it was the custom, but since the hen’s parents nor the cock could pay him back, they took the case to the king of animals who then decreed that the hawk could kill and eat any of the cock’s children whenever and wherever he found them as payment of his dowry, and, if the cock made any complaint, the king would not listen to him. And so from that time until now, whenever, a hawk sees a chicken he swoops down and carries it off in part-payment of his dowry.
An Example of a Story That Teaches Kindness:

Once upon a time there were two women married to one man. The elder was jealous of the
younger. One day, the younger wife came back from the market and there was no water with
which to prepare food for her baby so she took some water from the elder wife’s. When she told
the elder wife that she took her water to prepare food for her child, she insisted that she gives her
back her water inspite of her pleadings. Unfortunately, that was a day when no one goes to the
stream because that was when ghosts went to the stream. Her co- wife knew that ghosts will kill
her if she goes to the stream and insisted that she goes to get her water. The woman took her pot
and left and on her way she was confronted by ghosts and she pleaded with them, told them her
story and they let her pass. This happened many times until she got to the king of the ghosts who
took pity on her, helped her get the water and also gave her a drum and asked her to choose one.
She chose the smallest one and she was asked to break it when she gets home. When she got
home and broke the drum, many good things came out. When her wicked mate saw these good
things, she was envious and prepared to go to the stream to get her own goodies. When she was
confronted by the ghosts, she abused them and pushed them away. When she finally got to the
king of the spirits, she demanded that she should be given all he gave to the younger wife. She
was then given drums to select from and she selected the biggest one and when she got home and
broke it, every bad thing including sickness and reptiles attacked her.



by C. O'Best

Things our generations have lost due to white lies and brainwashings.
A DIBỊA in Igbo African culture is a man or a woman with vast knowledge of nature and spirituality. In some cases they are called the wise ones, great ones, the eyes of the gods, or doctors which is the literal meaning of the word DIBỊA in Igbo language, ( native doctors).
In this knowledge, mostly people are divinely chosen to be a DIBỊA, and sometimes also can be learned by being around or serving as apprentice to a well rich in knowledge DIBỊA.
There are several branches of being a DIBỊA, hence being a DIBỊA is a vast knowledge, and I mean as vast as when you say in English that someone is a doctor.
For example in western world a doctor defines as follows.
A teacher or a learned man.
A person who holds a doctorate.
A physician or surgeon.
A person licensed to practice any of the healing arts, as an osteopath, dentist, veterinarian, etc.
And this word doctor is said to be originated from an old Latin word of doctore which means a teacher, and in middle English as doctor, teacher, or learned man.
So in Igbo African settingDIBỊA being a vast field of knowledge includes (1) DIBỊA NGBỌRỌGWỤ NA MKPA AKWỤKWỌ which we call herbalist in English language.
These are people that specializes in discovering, and treating sicknesses using roots, herbs and nature materials. All their goals are saving life.
(2) EZEMMỤỌ, (CHIEF PRIEST OF AN ORACLE) They are also being referred to as the  mouthpiece of gods.
These are another set of people which we also refer to as DIBỊA. They serve as mediators between the people and the oracles. They offer sacrifices to the gods and the Oracle, and alert the leadership of the people when things are going bad in the society, eg when an abominable act is perpetrated neither in the secret or openly, so they are often called names like the voice of the gods or the eyes of the gods.
(3) DIBỊA OWUMMIRI or the mediator between the water goddesses and man. These are special section of DIBỊAs whos works are often reaching out to the river goddesses and gods, helping people with issues relating to water spirits like ọgbanje and iyiụwa problems. They can offer sacrifices, and intermediate between the person involved and the spirits in other to bring solutions.
(4) DIBỊA MGBA AFA, OR MGBA NSI which in English can be referred as diviners, soothsayers, fortune tellers, all kinds of seers etc. These are specialists in every spiritual inquiries. When you approach them for your problems all they do is consult the spirit of the ancestors which will reveal to them the root of the problem and what can be done for a permanent solution of it. Sometimes due to they have limited powers in solving problems, they might direct you to a higher power or can also go in your name and at the end the goal is to get the solution.
(5) DIBỊA NHA MMIRI or rain doctors as English calls it.
These I have mentioned so far are all in the fields of being a DIBIA (native doctors). Rain doctors are the people that possesses the power to control rain and winds. They can cause wind to blow, make it rain, and can also make it stop raining. They are the only people that possess the natural/ spiritual/scientific knowledge of doing this.
Sometime among them there are ones that only have the power to cause the wind to blow shifting rainfall from one direction to another or stop it from falling at a particular location at a particular time, (ịchụmmiri) and some can only make rain to fall, but can not control or stop rain from falling, (Ịhammiri) but there are ones that have the power to carry out both still. (NDỊ NA ACHỤ MA NA AHAKWA MMIRI)
In all these, like I mentioned earlier, mainly people are divinely chosen by the spirit to serve them on each various field, and one can also acquire this knowledge by staying close to a DIBỊA or serving as an apprentice to a DIBỊA.
Though one person sometimes can divinely be blessed with all of this knowledge in one, but I want us to have this understanding that there are differences in them.
There are some DIBỊA that can only give medicines and heal sicknesses, but can not predict anything, and such people are called for that purpose only.
There are some that specialized in predictions, fortune-telling or any kind of igba afa, but they can not heal sicknesses.
In rain doctoring, I know some rain doctors that can only bring rain down, but cannot stop or control the raining. And there are also some that have the power to control both.
So in the Igbo African setting all this people are recognised in their various fields.
This teaching becomes very important not for just to the ordinary people, but to those who are operating as DIBỊAS today in and around the society.
Because some few bad eggs have destroyed the legacies of our ancestors in this field.
People must be made to understand that being a DIBỊA is never a license to kill or to perpetrate all kinds of atrocities thereby causing pain and sorrows to the people. Rather being a DIBỊA is a call to save life, to heal, to teach and uplift the people.
Yes I understand that anyone that possesses the knowledge of what saves, also must have the ideas of what kills, yes this is just about having the knowledge of negativity and positivity, but the right thing here is that you must be positive here hence life is involved. Because our people said that okenye ekunyere nwa ọsina ezen'egbu ya marakwa na ekunyeghi ya nwa ka otagbue atagbue. Lol. An adult who a baby is given to and she started complaining that she is having toothache should be mindful that the baby was given to her not to be bitten. This just a proverb.
So they told you all the negative sides of African healing strategies and DIBỊA, but you never asked them the positive sides???
So you believe that DIBỊAs or native doctors are bad due to some perceived bad eggs amongst them that are often negative in their practice, but you have not asked your self who is responsible for creation of some deadly diseases like Ebola, SARS, Lassa fever, HIV and AIDS etc????
African spirituality is never an evil practice the way western religion, western education, Western media and some bad eggs amongst us has made it to look like, it is all about being positive and always maintaining  positive vibrations.
Before the western psychiatric treatment came to Africa, Africans have been treating psychiatric related cases including madness of all sorts.
Before western ways of health care came to Africa, Africans have been enjoying good health, good medications through nature produces and spirituality.
Every poison has its antidote, every sickness has cure in African ways of healings, every problem has remedy.
It is time we as African children start looking back to what we have, in other to use it positively for our general good.
Don't join those that demoralises and dehumanizes us, but join those that are building, elevating and continue to uplift us, because our people said that ONYE KPỌỌ ỌKỤ YA NKPỌNKPỌ NDỊ MMADỤ EWERE YA WE'E KPOO NTỤ. If you call your pot scarab people will use it to park dirt's.