I have always wondered how we managed to live with so many myths for so long. Most of Nigeria myths have morals behind them to begin with but looking at many, the elaborate ‘must not do’ is counter productive.
Given Nigeria is heterogeneous in our many tribes, it’s no surprise we have different myths about the same thing.
Chinua Achebe in ‘There was a Country” talked about his mother’s Kola nut Incident. Apparently in Igboland long time ago, people are forbidding to pick kola nut from the tree, it has to mature on its own, fall to the ground. Picking kola nut from the tree is seeing as ‘an insult to tradition’ – an offence that demanded punishment. Chinua Achebe’s mother spotted by a passerby picking kola nut from the tree arouse anger from the villagers, the mother insisted she picked from the trees in her yard so deserved no punishment, brave enough to take her stand. Chinua Achebe referred his mother as a fighter.
A few miles away is Yorubaland where we are trained to spot matured kola nuts and pick them. Lots of our kola nuts were picked from the trees, waiting for them to fall to the ground often time exposes kola nuts to kokoro obi (weevils) attacks.
We do have our myths about kola nuts picking that says pregnant women are not allowed to pick from the trees. Why pregnant women? So one don’t give birth to kola nut pod?
Both myths are very likely to have similar origin – discouraging village petty thieves. Interesting that females were the focus.
Many of our myths in Nigeria are counter productive after some, many are being debunked but many are still there terrorising people in their minds even when there is no evidence of it being true.
And some… is better said in plain language so the massage is clear.
Vulture is one of the lucky birds in Yorubaland. In my area, the saying is that vulture is a bird to be left alone as no good for anything.
The saying goes: A kii p’gun, a kii j’egun, a kii f’gun b’ori – One must not kill a vulture, nor eat or use vulture for any sort of sacrifices. If one does, the end results is bad, we’re told.
To this day, people don’t do anything to vultures in my area. Good news that we have not contributed to the extinction of vultures in Africa.
Then I realised I have never seen a vulture in my small town. Was my great grandparents trying to teach people of that time importance of preserving the birds given they only see one around once in a blue moon?