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If you like honey, fear not the bees. -African Proverb

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

African Folktale Kiigbo Kiigba and the Helpful Spirits

Kiigbo Kiigba and the helpful spirits is a thought-provoking African folktale. African folktales are stories forming part of an oral storytelling tradition shaped by the tongues of African elders passed down from one generation to the next. 


Kiigbo Kiigba and the helpful spirits African Folktale


There was a man named Kiigbo Kiigba who lived a very long time ago in a little Yoruba village. Like many of the villagers, he was a very hardworking farmer, but he had one major flaw – he was very stubborn. In fact, his name in Yoruba means “one who does not hear nor accept”, since he neither listens to anybody nor consider anybody’s suggestions.

Like many villages in the ancient Yoruba world, the village was inhabited by both people and spirits, but to avoid disputes among these two groups a law was passed to enable spirits to roam the land on certain days when all people would stay home.

As you might have guessed, Kiigbo Kiigba would not obey this law and would insist on going about his normal business on days elected for spirits. On the first day that people were asked to stay in their homes while spirits were out, Kiigbo Kiigba picked his hoe and cutlass and headed to his farm. Once there he began to till the land in preparation for planting his yams. He had been working for a while when he heard ethereal voices booming out from around him saying “Who are you and what are you doing?. He answered, “I am Kiigbo Kiigba and I am tilling my land”. “Alright, we will help you”, the voices boomed back and suddenly, hundreds of hoes appeared and started to till the land. In a little jiffy, the entire farm was tilled and Kiigbo went back home.

On the second day that people were asked to stay home while the spirits were out, Kiigbo Kiigba chose to go to his farm to begin planting his yams. He had barely started when the voices boomed out saying “Who are you and what are you doing?” He answered, “I am Kiigbo Kiigba and I am planting my yams”. “Alright, we will help you”, the answer came and in a jiffy, all the yam seedlings had been planted in neat heaps. Kiigbo went back home.

The third time when people were asked to stay home, Kiigbo Kiigba headed to his farm to harvest his yams. As he started to dig up the first yam, the now familiar voices boomed out saying “Who are you and what are you doing?” He answered, “I am Kiigbo Kiigba and I am harvesting my yams”. “Alright, we will help you”, the voices said and in a jiffy, all the yams in the farm had been dug up and placed in a big heap.

Kiigbo who just now had the opportunity to look at the one yam he had dug up realized that it was not yet ripe for harvest, and in fact, all the yams that had been dug up were not yet ready for harvest. As a good farmer, Kiigbo Kiigba would have examined a few yams and decided whether to give the yams more time to mature or continue with the harvest. But now, it was too late and his entire crop of yams had been ruined by these helpful spirits.

Kiigbo Kiigba cried “Woe is me” as he hit his head with both hands in sorrow. The spirits asked “Who are you and what are you doing”. He cried, “I am Kiigbo Kiigba and I am hitting my head in sorrow”. “Alright, we will help you”, the spirits answered and immediately, a hundred hands appeared and started to beat Kiigbo Kiigba on his head.

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