LIFE LESSONS: A YORUBA STORY


Once upon a time in a town, there lived a poor man. Fed up with his condition one day he decided he wanted to die, “after all what is the value of a life spent in suffering” he mused.  As he sat there contemplating the best way to die, he felt someone standing beside him, it was Death himself. Death asked:  “young man. What is the matter with you? Why have you been calling my name so much these past few days? Why do you wish to die?” the man faced Death without any hint of fear and replied “you of all people should know my condition. Since I was born, I have never eaten breakfast with an assurance of where my lunch will come from, I can’t stand in a gathering with my mates, I hide myself in shame whenever an occasion to spend money comes around.  I have borrowed so much that no one wishes to lend me anything; I have become a laughing stock in this town, a bad example for young children. I work hard, yet I get so little in return. So what I am living for? Take me with you; I am tired of this kind of life.”
    Death reflected for a few moments and then said “your story is very touching, and truly you deserve to die. However I will do something else for you instead.” Death paused for another few minutes, then continued “you know Chief Ayinla Owonikoko, don’t you?” the man nodded “He had just buried a pot of gold in his farm when I decided his time was up, and  took him away. Go to his farm right now, and dig under his favourite tree you will find the pot there. Go now” with that Death vanished. The man did as Death had commanded and found the pot as death had described. The pot contained enough gold to make him one of the richest men for miles around. However the sudden transition from poverty to wealth turned his head and he became proud, haughty, and decadent. He married many wives and became extravagant and irresponsible. He became a law unto himself, and his children, slaves and thugs became a menace in the town. He would send thugs to beat up people, sometimes just because he didn’t like them, any woman he fancied became his, she would be forcibly kidnapped if she resisted. His thugs broke into peoples’ houses by night and even robbed them by day, yet he did not try to control them. Even the king of the town could not control him.
    He was riding in the market one day when he came across an extremely beautiful young lady. He turned to the slaves who were with him and said to them, “that young lady is quite beautiful, I think she should spend tonight in my house.” One of his slaves replied “but Master, she is married already, her husband is Alaka, the son of Egbeji, the evil medicine man who lives on the other side of town.” “Nonsense!” the rich man sneered: “I don’t care if she’s married to the king of the town himself; I want her in my room by nightfall today.” He turned to four of his burliest thugs, “grab her right where she is and take her to my house” so  they grabbed the young lady right in the market place and took her, kicking and screaming, to the rich man’s house. When her husband learned of this development he came to the rich man house to demand his wife back, but the rich man’s thugs descended on him and beat him until he lost consciousness. Someone concerned at this development, ran to Egbeji, the kidnapped lady’s father-in-law. When Egbeji came and he saw his son bruised and bloodied. He almost exploded with anger. He managed to get help to take his son home; then stormed off into his own sacred room and brought out a horn. He poured out some powder from the horn and blew it in the direction of the rich man’s house pronouncing a curse of death on him as he did so.
    At the rich man’s house the  captive lady had struggled for hours until she no longer had the strength to resist her captor,  he had her pinned to the bed and was about to force himself on her when a cold hand tapped his shoulder. At that moment, he felt stabbing pains shoot through his chest. He fell off the lady to the ground. Gasping for breath, he managed to look up at the person who had tapped him; it was Death standing over him with a sad smile. The dying man croaked: “You promised to help me and you gave me this wealth, now what is its value if you won’t give me time to enjoy it. You should have killed me when I was mired in poverty.” Death grinned evilly: “I wanted you to learn a very important lesson before I killed you. Poverty is not guaranteed to kill you, but a life of decadence definitely will.

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3 thoughts on “LIFE LESSONS: A YORUBA STORY

  1. Lovely piece..think I actually remember the story…there are many living like that today.not necessarily in context but ma brother..it is well

  2. Thanks brother for this great piece.
    I was fortunate to come across it today to make use for my study.
    God bless.

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