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.

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