#FolktalesWednesday: The Tiger, The Man and The Fox

Hello folks, welcome to our regular column #folktaleswednesday for this week. Today’s story is a folktale translated from D. O Fagunwa’s Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmole, a classic for everyone who loves Yoruba folktales. Today’s story is about the tiger who tries to repay good with evil, and what happens to him. Read, enjoy and be informed. 

A man was going on a journey one day, at the outskirts of a town, He saw a tiger trapped in a metal cage. The tiger had been terrorizing the townsfolk, and they had set the cage as a trap to catch it, and  the tiger could not get back out without assistance

When the tiger saw the man, it begged the man to free him, but the man refused. The tiger then said “What have I done to you to deserve this treatment. Why are you thinking of now, and not tomorrow? I know everyone regards me as a wild and dangerous animal, but actually I am very nice. The people who say I am dangerous are just jealous, malicious people. Let me tell you that if you free me, and we live together for just three days, you will desire my company above everybody else’s. If you do not free me however, I am sure someone else will come along and free me and then I will look for you and you will not be able to escape me, for I know we will definitely meet again.”

The man became cautious and replied: “I understand you perfectly, but then if I free you and you attack and kill me, what then would be my reward for helping you?”

The Tiger replied “that is a simple issue. If you help me get out of this trap, I promise never to harm you.”

The tiger was extremely persuasive and it looked sincere, so the man opened the metal cage and set the tiger free. However as soon as the tiger gained its freedom, it forgot its promise to its benefactor and tried to kill him. The man begged him to wait until they talk about everything that happened to the first five creatures they meet. The tiger agreed to this and the two of them went along. The the first creature they met was a goat. When they had both told the goat their different versions of the incident, the goat replied

“Human beings are very wicked creatures. Ever since I have been living with my human owner, it has been nothing but suffering. When I give birth to my kids, he pretends not to see, but once my kids are big enough, he sells them all and spends all the money on himself. All he ever gives me to eat is some measly Banana leaves. I have nothing to eat but grass all day. So dear human, the tiger will have to kill you.”

The tiger was very happy with the judgement, and he tried to pounce on the man, but the man reminded him that they still had four more creatures to go. As they went they met three more creatures, a dog, a horse and an orange tree. Each of the creatures only complained about how human beings had maltreated them over the years, and were quite happy to see a human being suffer.

The tiger was now sure that nothing could save the man now, and was already thinking of how delicious the man’s meat would taste, but then a fox came along. The two creatures approached it and told their stories, inviting it to be the judge, but then the man added, “before I got into this trouble, I was already preparing two or three chickens as a present for you.”

The fox sneered “you idiot you think you can bribe me with chickens?” then it turned to the tiger “ sir, you can see how this idiot has muddled up the whole story with his incoherence and lying. With all due respect to your status, perhaps if we all go back to where this whole thing started, I can be able to understand what happened better.” So they all went back to the metal cage that the tiger had been trapped in. Then the fox said to the tiger “Sir, I am not a particularly smart creature, so if you can oblige me by standing exactly where you were when this incident started, the whole story would be clearer to me.” So the Tiger climed back into the metal cage.  The fox turned to the man a looked at him with derision “You liar! Didn’t you tell me that you freed him from the metal cage? He can get out by himself now can’t he?” The man replied “No the cage was securely locked when I first saw it.” “how!” the fox barked “ like this,” the man said as he securely locked the tiger in the metal cage.

Then the fox turned to the tiger and said “You foolish creature, this is what you get for being ungrateful to your benefactor. Your eyes will be plucked and eaten by birds, and you will serve as a lesson  to creatures who repay good with evil.” It then turned to the man, “Go to the people of the town and tell them that the tiger which has been terrorizing them has finally be caught. Also, let this serve as a lesson to you that it is not everybody that asks for your help that deserves it. More importantly, don’t forget to bring me my chickens.” With that the fox and the man went their different ways, leaving the tiger to wallow in self pity and mull over its missed opportunity. The man did as the fox said and went to call the townspeople. They all came with guns, spears, and cudgels and soon killed the ungrateful tiger.


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