#FolktalesWednesday: Tortoise and The Pot Of Stew

Hello, folks, You’re welcome to another edition of my regular column #FolktalesWednesday. Thanks for always stopping by to enjoy the educative and entertaining Yoruba stories on offer. First of all, before I go into today’s story I want to apologize for not writing the column last week, I had a few things to do. However, I am back again and I have a short but educative tale for you on the importance of always listening to instructions and not being greedy.  I hope you enjoy it. 

The Tortoise and his wife had been married for a while but they had no children. they had tried the homes of many herbalists and medicine men, but none of them could find a cure for the barrenness of  Tortoise’s wife. At last a neighbor told them of a herbalist who lived in a nearby village. Tortoise went to meet the herbalist and to explain his wife’s condition and her inability to conceive to him.

The herbalist took pity on  Tortoise when he heard his story, so he prepared a pot of stew with meat in it for the tortoise to take home to his wife. He told  Tortoise that all his wife needed to do was to eat at least a piece of meat from the stew and she would get pregnant within a month. He, however, warned Tortoise that nobody else apart from Tortoise’s wife was allowed to eat the meat in the stew or even taste the stew itself. Tortoise accepted the pot of stew and thanked the herbalist for his help

On his way home, however, the Tortoise could not resist the delicious aroma of the pot of stew, he tried his best to keep the herbalist’s word that he would not taste of the stew. However Tortoise got to the point where he could not resist anymore, he opened the pot of stew and said to himself “my wife only needs to eat one of these pieces of meat and she will get pregnant, there is nothing wrong if I as the husband eat one piece as well.” So Tortoise took a piece of meat and ate it. It tasted delicious. so he took another one and ate it as well. Tortoise took the rest of the stew to his wife feeling quite pleased with himself.”

However a few hours later, Tortoise started to feel some pains in his stomach, at first he thought it was just some routine pains, but the pains continued to increase and his stomach started to swell up like that of a pregnant woman. That was when Tortoise realized that it was the meat he ate, in disobedience of the herbalist’s instructions, that caused his sudden and mysterious ailment. He quickly called on some neighbours to help him get to the herbalist’s house. As they helped him along He started to sing

Babalawo mo wa beebee              (Herbalist I have come to plead with you)


Ogun to se fun mi leekan                (The pot of stew you made for me earlier)


Oni n ma ma mowo kan enu           (That you told me not to eat out of)


Mo f’owo kan Obe mo mu kan enu   (I touched the stew and ate some of it)


Mo boju wo ‘kun o ri gbendu              (I looked at my stomach it had become swollen)


Babalawo mo wa beebe                      (Herbalist I have come to plead with you)


By this time Tortoise’s stomach had swollen to the point bursting and he was at the point of death. Fortunately, the herbalist heard the tortoise singing from afar and he quickly guessed that the Tortoise had disobeyed the instructions he was given and was in trouble. He quickly rushed out to the people who were carrying Tortoise and gave him the antidote to the pregnancy inducing stew to drink.  Soon  Tortoise’s pains disappeared and his swollen stomach began to shrink until it was back to the way it was. From that day, Tortoise learned his lesson. He learned to not be greedy and to never disregard warnings in future.


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