Folk-Lore/Volume 31/Thirty-two Folk-Tales of the Edo-Speaking Peoples of Nigeria


These stories were collected in the northern part of the Ẹdo area in 1909-10, and are mainly from the Ọra and Kukuruku tribes; Irua lies in the Eša country a little to the south-east of the Ọra-Kukuruku boundary; but the difference is practically unimportant; they might well be reckoned to the Agbede group, whose near neighbours they are.

The Ọra country is bordered on the south by the Ọdo proper, on the west by the Yoruba at Ifọ on the north by the Kukuruku, who also form part of the eastern boundary, together with the Eša. Ọra and Eša are both very near, linguistically, to the Ẹdo proper; Eša was subject to Ẹdo till some sixty years ago when Adolo, king of Ẹdo, fought his elder brother, who had established himself in the Eša country, and was defeated. There is a good deal of intermarriage between Ọra and Eša women and Ẹdo men.

The Kukuruku appear to have a Sobo element, which fled from the south of the Ẹdo area to escape the exactions of the king of Ẹdo; they are dwellers mainly in the hill country, but how long they have been established there it is difficult to say; their language is split up into numerous tongues so diverse that towns a few miles apart cannot understand one another. The list of the kings of Ọkpe suggests that the separation of the Ẹdo and Kukuruku may go back six hundred years; but this does not necessarily apply to other sections of the Kukuruku. The recording of texts in native languages is a lengthy process when the transcriber cannot recognise the different elements in the sentence, which is spoken as a single word. Texts were recorded in most of these languages; but to save time the folk-tales were taken down from the lips of an interpreter and cut down by the omission of the repetitions. In Story XXXII. for example, the formula is repeated for each of the man’s sons and for each of the E.’s sons. Anyone who wishes to reconstruct the original narratives can readily do so by expanding each incident in this way.

The stories from the Ẹdo proper are not included; they are relatively few in number; some will appear in Man, where a Kukuruku fragment was printed in 1917.

Irua, Eša Tribe.


Akpasikoko (mosquito) came out and shouted, “I am a man,” and the leopard said, “Hold your tongue.” “You can say I am not a man; you do the same.” “I broke a hundred calabashes fetching water for my father and a hundred on the way back.” “I do nothing for my father; I want what is black and white, to kill it for my father.” So the leopard said: “Nothing is black and white, only myself”; so he ran away and the squirrel laughed at him.

Obe (a snake) was near, and the squirrel pulled out a tooth and shook it at Obe, so Obe ran and met a bush rat and begged him for room to hide. “I was drying myself and saw the leopard run.” The squirrel laughed and I said: “‘Don’t hurt me‘ '; but he pulled a tooth out, so I ran.” But the bush rat could not give him room; he said that if he did the snake would kill his seven children.

A few days later the snake was in the bush rat’s house and called him, saying: “I will kill your son; he humbugs me”; so the rat said: “He is a boy, he knows nothing.” But Obe killed all the seven children in one day. Then he said: “Look here, bush rat”; so the bush rat answered: “How, you will say my tail humbugs you.” Then the snake nearly caught the rat and the rat ran to the Oko tree and asked if he could have a house in the roof; but the tree said if he did, he would cut a hole in the roof and he (the tree) would die. But the rat said: “No,” so the tree agreed. So the bush rat dug his house till he found a small roof and said: “Is this the roof of Oko? I must cut it.” So he cut it and Oko died.

When the francolin went to market he picked leaves from the top of Oko and ate, but when he came back Oko was dead, so he asked what had happened; so Oko explained and the francolin shouted: “Paxwá, paxwá” (war, war). When Okiukiu heard this, he started to shout: “Okwonọ, okwonọ” (war, war), and the monkey heard it and got ready to come down from the top of the tree. Oviedegbe, the son of Osa, was washing his feet, for he had a sore foot; when he saw the monkey he said: “Don’t break the tree and hurt my sore foot.” But the monkey broke the tree and hurt his foot. Now Oviedegbe had night and day in his power; so when the branch fell, he stopped night and day and Osa sent to ask why. So Oviedegbe reported that his sore foot was hurt; Ibidie was jumping about; so I stopped them. Then Osa sent to the monkeys and asked why they hurt Oviedegbe’s sore; so the monkey said: “Okiukiu called ‘War, war,’ and I broke the stick by accident.” Then Osa called Okiukiu and he said the francolin had called war; and the francolin said he had seen Oko tree dead; and Oko tree said the bush rat killed him; and the rat said war had driven him away; and the snake said the squirrel had driven him to attack bush rat; and the squirrel said the leopard frightened him; and the leopard said the mosquito frightened him. So the mosquito was called and he begged the wind to take him away, and Osa asked what he meant and he said “Erialue” (so we do). So the mosquito comes at night and the left hand drives him away.


Cock and hen were husband and wife, and the hen bore many children; when the hawk came for food the cock gave him no chance; but the cock died and the hen wept for him; then the hawk came and took the chickens one by one and the hen called out: “Kokokokokọọ” (one chicken); and she called for her husband: “kpukpukpukpukpukpure” (bring stick), and since then all cocks call: “kpukpukpukpukpukpukpure.”


In Ogiso’s town were two boys born of the same mother and they were great thieves and stole things from people’s pockets. They were brought before the king and he did not know what to do; so he called the town and made them plant corn and said he would kill whoever touched it; but no one was to tell the boys. But some one told them; and they agreed that one should carry the other and that one should pick the corn; then “if they try ita, we are all right. We can say: ‘If I took foot to walk, may ita catch me,’ or ‘If I took the corn, may ita catch me.’” So one night they went and A carried B. B filled the bag and gave it to A and filled his own bag too.

At daybreak there was an outcry, and the king called the town together, and people said: “Those boys have done it.” So they took ita to try, but the boys tried it and escaped.

(Ita is an ordeal in which the tongue is pierced with a fowl feather; if it cannot be withdrawn in three attempts, the patient is guilty.)


Ototanagmo and Ototanelimi (ruler of the world, ruler of heaven) met on the road and asked each other where they came from and what they were doing. Then they agreed to meet in seven days and tell stories. So B told his story to the ground and covered it with a calabash, and A did the same. When they came back, they found two kola trees bearing fruit; so they gathered their bags full and broke one and roasted it, but it would not cook; so they got a pot and boiled it, but it was not done after being on the fire all day. So Osa came and cut the kola with a knife, and told the kola that all men should eat him raw and should take no harm. Then he gave one piece to each and put the rest at the foot of the tree. Since that day men have eaten kola raw.

Agbede, Kukuruku Tribe.


Once there was a boy whose father and mother were dead; and he had a farm. He went to weed it and weeded a little and left it, and his father and mother came and went on with the weeding; the boy saw their hoe, and was astonished. When the corn was ripe he took a little of it and his parents took the remainder; so he set a trap and caught them. Then Osa said that was not good. Since then dead people have not come back.


One day the tortoise went to his garden and met the leopard; and the tortoise said he wanted to play; so the leopard told him to get a rope and then the tortoise tied him to a tree so that he could not get loose.

The tortoise went home and told his wife not to go to the garden; but the wife went to get wood and saw the leopard and shouted. And the leopard asked her to release him; but she said, “You will kill me,” but he said he would not. So she released him and then he tried to kill her, and she said it was not right. So the leopard fears the tortoise now and runs away; and the tortoise beat his wife and said she must catch the leopard. But she could not; but she spoils men.

Otwa, Kukuruku Country.


In the country of Isoka a boy had a goat which was gravid; and one night it bore two kids. Then the town met and asked how he got a goat that bore two kids? For goats may not bear kids at night; and they said it must be killed. So the boy, who was poor, said “All right”; and the goat was killed and they cooked it and began to cut it up; and he went to gather seven medicine stones and put them in the pot and told the demi-god to whom the stones belonged: “Any goat that bears in the night, if they don’t kill her, you must.” Then he called the town, and they all ate the soup, and when they found the stones, they asked why they were there; and the boy told them; so now they kill the goats that bear two kids at night.


There were two men of Isoka who told each other stories after eating their fill; and each said he was the best sportsman; so they arranged to try. They went out with their bows and saw nothing; then they took their pipes, as they wanted to smoke. And Akigbe lighted his, and saw agboligbo (? bush buck) coming; so he took an arrow and shot with his pipe and killed it. Then Niemoti said, “What! You better than I!” So he took his bow and said he would kill a fly; and he aimed at its eye and hit it and the fly fell dead. Then Niemoti said, “I am better.”


Once there was a feast to a demi-god and one man went without waiting for the others and sat down and waited; then the priest asked why he was there alone; so he told him; and the priest said he must pay one goat. Next year all mashed their yams ready for the feast, and the man said he would go after all the others; so when he got there the priest said, “You are late; you pay one goat.” So he paid and said, “What am I to do? Early or late, I pay a goat; I am a poor boy; I have no one at my back.”



The grandfather of Ixreobo (the teller of the story) was a hunter and every day he killed antelope. One day he was waiting in the bush and heard two antelopes calling; and one said, “I hear you had kids last night.” So she said, “Yes, but before they grow up, Ixreobo will kill them.” So the man resolved that from that day on he would hunt no more.


Odumha (? hyena) and leopard were friends, and one day they went hunting and each killed plenty of game and collected it, and they met. When they sat down they said their loads were too heavy and agreed to cut up the animals; but odumha said he had no knife. Then the leopard said he could get one. And the leopard said he had no fire for cooking; and odumha said he could get some. So the leopard put out his claws and cut up the meat, and odumha looked and said, “How can he cut up meat without a knife?” Then odumha went to a big stone and burst it, and it turned into fire.

So odumha ran away saying: “Well, he can cut meat; I won’t let him cut me,” and the leopard ran away, saying: “He has made fire; I won’t let him burn me.” So they left the meat and ran, and since then odumha and leopard don’t see each other.


There was on Otwa hill a house full of doctors. One day Oboromoyi went away to work as a doctor, and he stayed away three years, and all the people said he was dead; so his wives remarried; but three months later they saw him in the house without knowing how he came there, and he called the people and his (former) wives and all the quarters and said they had done evil. So he was vexed and took a spindle and put his wives inside; then he took the thread on the top and held it and threw the spindle up, and it stayed in the sky. Then he took Osun (a tutelary deity) and the whole town begged him to stay; but he said he had sent his people away, and put Osun under his arm and climbed the thread to the sky. As he was climbing, Osun was vexed and fell down, and the doctor saw that it fell in the house he had left. So he said: “As you are vexed, the people of this quarter who see you shall die.” So no one goes where Osun fell; it has gone into the ground. But the doctor reached the sky and came down again at Isebe, and sent people out to Edo and to Sabongida, and to Afuje and to other places. Since that time Isebe has been full of doctors.


Two men went out to steal yams and each made up a load. And when they reached the road at night they had to climb a hill; and on the way down the man behind took yams from the one in front and put them on his own load. So the man said: “How light my load has got”; but the other one said his load was heavy. When he found out what had happened, he said: “You steal my yams; but there are yams enough on the farm.” Which of them was the proper thief?

Sabongida, Ora Tribe.


One snake has two heads; it is called elahomo-elahomo. One day this snake told his father-in-law he was coming to help him in his farm in seven days; the same day his ehi (genius) came and asked when he would work for him, and he said, “In seven days.” So on the seventh day he said, “How did I make this mistake? My ehi will kill me; but I can’t go to elimi (heaven) or my father-in-law will take away my wife.” Hence this snake has two heads; it turned its faces one each way, and said it had done its best, and it escaped the palaver.


Ose wanted to send corn into the world, and found out how to cook it. He put it in a pot, and when it was cooked he asked it if it was done, and it said, “Yes.” So Ose put it on a fire and the corn began to shout, “Kata, kata, kata, kata.” And Ose said, “You are a thorough liar; you tell me you are done and now you begin to shout.” So from that day on people have said, “You are a bigger liar than the corn.”


Osalobwa had three sons, and he asked them their names; and the first said, “Ilekiado” (I go to the market to trade), and the second, “Ububo agagbe” (I can only farm), and the third, “Esezagazo” (sacrificer). So he told them to settle in one place, and they went to market and farmed and sacrificed. Then Osa called them to come and see him and I. and U. dressed in fine clothes. But E. had no clothes at all; and they sat down in their father’s house and he brought three yams—white, red and water yam. And inside the white yam he put people and cows and goats and a king’s sword; and he put the same inside the red yam; and in the water yam. And he also put three kola in each. So his sons saluted him and told him their names, and Osa said he wanted to see how they were getting on; but he had only three yams to give them. They were to come back again in seven days.

So they each took their yam in turn but I. and U. were vexed and threw theirs away and went home; but E. picked them up and took a knife, and the yams said: “Take care.” But he said he must cut them; so the house came out and the cow and the goat; but he did not care; he cut up the yam and offered it. So people saluted him, and wives came out and washed him in a brass bath. And he cut up all three yams and became very rich.

In seven days I. and U. sent a messenger to E. to come, and he asked for E. by his real name; so E.’s people flogged the boy for insolence.

So the boy went back and explained that he had not seen E.; then I. and U. determined to go to the house of E., and they too were beaten for using E.’s real name; but E. stopped his people and gave his brothers chairs to sit upon, and they were astonished at his magnificence. Then E. took his bead coat and cap, and went with a drummer and many boys and sat down in his father’s place. And when Osa came out E. rose from the agba and offered his seat to Osa, who asked who his visitors were. When the matter was explained, Osa said: “I make Esezagazo king from this day; so he was king and Edo (Benin) and the others obeyed him.


All the yams were ready in elimi (heaven) to go to the world; when they reached the river Omi, they discussed to whose house they should go, and Asekme (white yam) said, “We will go to the head of the town”; but Asoko said, “No, we will go to the ogie”; and Olomuda said, “We will go to a rich man.”

Then Water Yam said, “I am the last son; it is no use to go to a big man; the man who will look after us and plant us, and clear away the grass and be kind to us, we will go to him.” So they agreed and went to the man, and saluted him and said, “Shake hands; you are sensible.” So when you see water yams, you find they have plenty of “hands” underneath (this refers to the shape).


A man named Isizọbọ of Iki had one wife, and some one told him that she walked about when he was away; so he watched but saw nothing. Then one day he told his wife to get food ready, as he was going hunting. So she ground corn and mixed palm oil and pepper, etc., and tied it in a leaf. Then she gave it to her husband, who put it in a bag on his back, and took his gun, saying that he was going away for four days. So he went; but stopped on the way. The woman cooked food when he was gone, and made two portions; one she gave to a friend in the town and the other she put aside, and called another friend to come and eat in the house. She told the first one to come and see her when everyone was asleep; the second one visited her at dusk, and when he came, she put food down and he ate. Then the man said, “Let us play”; so they played and then the man fell asleep. While he slept the husband came to the door and knocked, and the wife asked who it was; so he said it was her husband. “But you said you were going to be away four days,” she said; but her friend was afraid and got up, and she put him in a big pot and hid him. Then the husband called again, “Why don't you open?” So she said, “Sleep troubles me. I can’t get up quickly.” Then she opened the door, and he asked with whom she had been talking. “No one.” The husband said he had heard a man’s voice, but the wife denied it.

Then the husband sat down; and the first friend was just starting, and he found the woman and her husband together. The woman said: “You have been a long time fetching this pot.” So he put it on his head and went away, not in the least comprehending what the situation was. And as he was ruminating over the matter and saying, “How is this, etc.,” the man on his head said, “Which way will he go?” He asked, “Who is that talking on my head?” and threw down the pot and broke it and ran away. Then the man who had been in the pot called him and explained what had happened. The moral of this is that it is best for each man to get his own wife.


The vulture and the green pigeon were friends, and one day some one told the vulture that the pigeon was sick; so the vulture said, “Why did he not send to me?” So he went to see him; but a man said, “You will not find him alive.” Then a doctor divined for the pigeon and told him he must transfer the sickness to his friend when he came. So the pigeon called the vulture and said he was very bad. The vulture flew past and the pigeon gave him a sickness that lasted three years, and all the feathers fell from his head. Then the vulture said: “If you have a friend who is sick, don’t go too close.”


The leopard was making his farm, and one day begged the animals to come and make heaps for him (for yams); so they got ready and came and made heaps. Presently they had drunk all the water, and some one said: “Who will fetch water?” So the leopard went, and while he was away the tortoise said: “We are fools to work for the leopard who killed our fathers and mothers.” But the others said they did not know. Then the tortoise hid, and the other animals went on working; so the leopard came back and the tortoise spoke from inside the bush: “Waise, it is the leopard who killed our fathers and mothers,” and then he ran away. Then all the animals waved their hoes round their heads and threw them away, saying, “We cannot be friends with leopard, who killed our fathers and mothers.”


Aluloxi (chameleon) and Owuwu (? hornbill) were arguing, and each said he was the bigger man; so each contradicted the other and they fought. The chameleon said that when he was born the ground was soft, just new, and he asked Owuwu when he was born; and Owuwu said, “When I was born, there was no ground, and no sky.” “How were you born without ground?” “When my father died he was buried in my head; if there had been any ground, I should have buried him there.” So all believed Owuwu and said that he was the head man.


There were two boys who were friends, and they were poor and had no fathers or mothers, and they arranged to steal and sell the stolen property. One night they went out and came to a rich man’s door, and found a hole in the door in which to put the hand to withdraw the bar at the back; so one, boy put his hand in, and the owner saw it and took a cutlass and cut off the boy’s arm at the elbow. Then the boy told the other that the bar was too heavy; so he put his arm in and the owner cut his hand off too. So he asked the other boy why he had not told him and he said, “It’s no use for you to have two hands and me only one.” So each had only one hand.


There was once a boy without a name, so he called himself Ilefo (I know all) and his father agreed. One day the boy made a trap for animals and found a rat in it the next day; it was not dead, so he took it and let it go, because it was too nice to be killed. Then his father made palaver because he had let go a rat that he might have eaten. So he said he would catch another the next day. At daybreak he found a squirrel in the trap and the same thing happened; and a bush rat, a snake, and so on. Then his father fell sick, and said if his son did so, he would have no one to feed him; and his father died and the son buried him. But he first of all cut off one finger and said, “I will show it to the king; if he knows, he will kill me; if not, we will divide his property.” But he did not know that one of the king’s wives was standing behind him and heard him. Then he took the finger and went to the king, and the king came out; so he brought out his parcel and said, “If you know, you will kill me; if you don’t, we will divide your property.” So the king said, “I can’t answer you yet; come in five days.” In five days the king asked him, “Shall I kill you if I prove this thing?” so the boy agreed, and the king said it was his father’s finger.

Then the king shut the boy up and said, “To-morrow I sacrifice you to ehi”; so the boy sat down, and then he saw a rat and asked what it was. So the rat said, “Who are you?” and he said, “I am Ilefo who caught you and let you go.” Then followed explanations, and the rat sat down there. The squirrel, bush rat and snake came and did likewise, and they all consulted; and the snake told the bush rat to dig a hole to the place where the king kept his ehi; so the hole was dug, and the snake went there and put his head out. At daybreak the king called his eldest daughter and told her to rub Aluehi (the shrine of ehi), and as she was rubbing it with chalk the snake bit her hand; so the girl fell dead. And a man saw her lying there and told the king, and he sent another daughter; and she was bitten and died; so the king lamented and wanted to die too; but they held him back. Then Ilefo said he could get a leaf that would recall both the girls to life, and a boy heard him talking and went and told the king. The snake gave the medicine to the boy and told him to mix it with the blood of a woman whose nose had been cut off, and that to get the blood they must cut off her head. Then the king went to the prison and offered a share of his property to the boy if he would recall his daughters to life; so he released the boy, and he went out to wash and came back and got ready. So he told the king he wanted the blood of a woman whose nose had been cut off; so they brought the woman who had told the king about him and cut off her head; and the boy made medicine and smeared it on the girls’ faces and put it in their mouths and noses; and first one girl sneezed and awoke and then the other. So the king said he would not kill the boy; and he gave him two hundred cows and two hundred goats and two hundred slaves and women and fowls, and made him head chief.


There was a boy without a name, who called himself Ilefo, and the king sent for him and asked his name, and the boy said he knew everything in the world; so the king told him to come again in five days. Then the king called a meeting and put questions to the boy and the boy agreed to perform a task. So the king told him to go to the sky and call the things that live there. When the boy asked their names the king said he knew all, so there was no need to say.

So the boy started and found the birds holding a meeting, and some said, “Kill him,” and some said, “Catch him,” and some said, “Drive him away”; so he explained what he was doing and asked them for help. And the birds were sorry for him and promised their aid; so each pulled out a feather, put it on the boy and turned him into a bird; then they told him to fly to the king’s veranda and perch there, for some one would tell the king and you will hear what he says. So the boy did so.

Then he perched on a post in the king’s house and a boy told the king; so the king came out and said he had never seen the like. So he rang a bell and the town came and the king asked, “Who can tell me the name of this bird”? but no one knew. Then the king said he was sorry he had sent Ilefo to get the sun and moon, for he might know.

So Ilefo flew back and gave the birds their feathers again. Then he went to the sky and called the sun and moon, saying that the king wanted them. When he returned he told the king, and said he must call a meeting. So he said he had been to the sky and called them; and one said, “To-morrow morning,” and the other said, “To-morrow evening.” So they all said he was Ilefo. Then the king divided his property and gave half to the boy and made him a chief. So at dawn we see the sun come and in the evening the moon.


The tortoise has more sense than all the animals; one day Ulo (? chimpanzee) sent to the animals to come and salute him; and when they got there, he took ọxọya and gave it to them for kola. When they were sharing it the tortoise said he was small and would take last, and others could break the fruit for him and give him half; so each broke ọxọya and took his own and gave the tortoise half. So the tortoise got more than any one, as much as all the others put together.

Ime, Ora Country.


Owo of Ime was a doctor, and there was no medicine he did not know. He could cut open his belly and rub it with medicine, and the wound left no mark; and could take anything out of his body. One day he called the town together and began to dance. He said he could do anything by means of medicine, but he had never been to the sky; and the people said those who went there never came back. So he said he would try, and if he succeeded he would tell them what elimi was like. So he said, “If the rain there is white, elimi is better; if not, this world is better.” So he took a spindle and beat a drum, and said that as he was doing, so they must do after he was gone, and continue doing so as long as they could see him. So he sang, “I o ho go, i e ho go,” and threw the spindle up so that the thread remained on the ground; then he climbed up it, beating the drum with one hand and reached the sky; and in elimi rain began to fall and it was white chalk, and when he saw it he said elimi was better.


Once Ijẹba was at war with the Ora country, and they took and shut up a man of Ugboviatọ and water flowed from the house in which they put him, and the house became the river Owan. So they divined and decided to set him free, and gave him a white cloth and sent him home. His name is Ozobo; he puts chalk on his body and goes to the bottom of the river and speaks with elimi, and when he comes out he is quite dry.

Kominio, Kukuriku Tribe.


Once there was a man who had a son, and when it was hungry, it cried for meat; so the father took a fowl and killed it, and the child ate the liver; the next day, it cried for meat again, and he killed a goat, and the child ate the kidneys and liver; the rest of the meat was thrown away. The next day it asked for pork and ate only the kidneys and liver; then it demanded beef and ate the kidneys and liver; the rest of the meat all the town took and divided. Then the child demanded horse meat and the same thing happened. Then it demanded the flesh of its father and mother; but they said, “No,” so the boy cried, “No! Get out.” Then all the town and the chiefs came together and asked why the boy said this; and they were told it came from the fact that the father and mother gave their child all he asked for.

Then the chief saluted the boy and his mother and father, and said to them: “You bore a son; you gave it all it asked for; I fine you £5, mother of the boy; if you do not pay, I kill you; I fine you £5, father of the boy; if you don’t pay, I kill you.” So they paid their fines, and the chief took £5 and gave £5 to the big men of the town. From that time on the chief has told the people with children: “You must not give them all they ask for; but take a whip and flog them.”

Soso, Kukuruku Tribe.


The dog and the leopard were of the same family and lived in the same house; each bore five pups and the dog said, “Let us make a fine house and keep the cubs inside.” So they did so and put pups and cubs inside. One night the dog got up and begged a hole in a stone for leave to keep its pups there; so the dog took its pups, and then suggested to the leopard that they should kill their children. So the leopard agreed, and as she was the bigger, she killed her children first.

So they ate one; then it was the turn of the dog. So she said: “The day after to-morrow I go to market and then I kill my pups”; so she went to market and bought salt and palm oil and other necessaries. Then she dug up roots and took banana roots, and cut them up small. Next she told the leopard not to stay at home, for pups smelt strong when they were being cut up. But she cooked the banana roots when the time came and then ran to the water side and washed. Then she called the leopard, who asked why she had gone to wash; so she said that she was dirty after slaughtering the pups, and added that they had no bones and the meat was too sweet. So they ate, and the leopard agreed that the meat was too sweet, and the dog replied that dog meat had to be cooked, or it was not sweet; but leopard had to be eaten raw. Then she went to the hole and suckled her pups. This went on till all the pups were said to be killed. So the leopard killed her cubs, turn and turn about. When all were killed the dog said, “I have eaten all my children; I am going to the bush,” so the leopard agreed. But rain began to fall and wetted the leopard, and it came to the hole where the pups were; so it sat on the top and looked in and the pups growled and it saw them. Then the dog came with meat and explained that she had found her children again, and asked if the cubs had not been found. So she told the leopard to run quickly to the bush and she would find them, so the leopard ran and the dog went to the top of the rock and shouted: “Run, they are just in front.” Then she took the pups out of the hole.

Now in those days people had no dogs in their houses; but the dog took her pups and stayed with a man; she met a hunter and agreed with him. When the leopard went back to the hole she saw nothing. Before that time leopards never killed goats, so the leopard followed the dog and looked in at the door. Then the pups went out, and the leopard caught them and put its hand on them and took it away and smelt it, and said, “They don’t smell; the dog made a fool of me.” So since that day the leopard eats dog and leaves nothing, because it says the dog has no bones.

Ibie, Kukuruku Tribe.


There were people called Ugbame, and one of them got a wife and made her dress her hair well, and they set out along the road. But a tornado came, and he said that rain must not fall on her hair; so he cut off his wife’s head and kept it; and the woman fell down on the road. So the man said: “Get up and go on”; but she said nothing, so he said, “Oh, well, you can lie there.” When his wife’s family came and asked where she was, he said that rain fell on her hair, and when he took her head off she lay down on the road and did not answer. So her family said: “When you took her head, she was vexed; that was why she lay down.”


God said that people should not die, and an old woman died in Imiakebu; she was an ẹnabọ wife, so they took her to Igiga, and the people saw them cry and asked what was the matter. So they said crying was sweet. So they told them to buy the body; and when they bought it; they began to die.

(For the ẹnabọ wife see Ẹdo Report, i. 57; she cannot be buried by her husband’s people unless she is purchased, and thus becomes an amọya wife).


A man had a wife and they had seven sons; so they tried ifa (divination) and were told if they wanted a daughter to get a cow and kill it far away where there were no people and eat it there. So they went with the seven sons; but they forgot fire; so when the man killed the cow he looked for the matches and found none. Then Enyagbolimi (a fabulous animal) came and knocked his head on the ground; now his rump was red, so the seventh child said: “There is fire,” and took a piece of bark to get fire from Enyagbolimi; and E. asked why it came and it explained. So the child told him to come to his father. Then the father explained that he had brought a cow to kill, but the land was not his, So he had called E. to whom it belonged. Then he shared the meat with E., who put it in his bag and told the father he had not said why he had called him. So the father said: “If you want all the meat, take it and put it in the second bag.” Then E. asked again and was told to take one of the sons and make soup of him. So he took the boy and asked again. Finally he took all the seven sons and the father and mother.

At home E. had seven children; he hung up the bags and sent them to get wood. But a small tortoise came and took the bags and the man and all his sons came out. Then the tortoise told him to go away with all the meat; so he did and the tortoise put stones in the bags and a round calabash that was not dry.

So E. made a fire and put the bags on and sat on a rock to watch. He saw the bags burn and the round calabash burst; so he laughed and said: “The boy has burst”, then he sent his eldest son to see if the meat was done. Now E. has big teeth, and if he bites a stone he dies; so the boy bit a stone and died; and there were six left. And so it happened with all of them till the last one; he bit the calabash and said, “It’s done, but it’s bitter.” So E. came, put his teeth in a stone and died. But the last child left all and fled to another town.