#FolktalesWednesdays: Tortoise And The Three Brothers (2)

Hello folks, welcome to another edition of our regular #folktaleswednesdays for today. On folktales Wednesdays, we amuse and educate ourselves with interesting folktales  of the Yoruba of Southwest Nigeria. Last week we started the story of Tortoise and the Three Brothers   and our piece today is the final part of that story. Read and enjoy it

The three brothers went home sad and despondent. They huddled together and knelt down to plead with their parents in heaven to help them. With the belief that the heavenly beings would help them, and the resolve to face their deaths bravely if the other option failed, they tried their best to be happy and to forget their sorrows as they waited for the seventh day when they would show their powers, to come.

The next day at sunrise, a mysterious bird landed on the roof of the house where the three brothers lived. As soon as it landed, it started a melodious song thus:

Omode meta nsere                      (three children playing

Eré o, Eré ayò                                (Play… Play of joy)

Okan l’oun o g’agbon                 (One says he will climb a coconut tree)

Eré o, Eré ayò                                    (Play… Play of joy)

Okan l’oun o wekun                   (one says he will swim the length of the sea)

Eré o, Eré ayò                                       (Play… Play of joy)        

Okan l’oun o tarun                     (One says he will shoot an arrow that will hit the heavens)

Eré o, Eré ayò                                         (Play… Play of joy)

Ogagbon, Owekun O tarun      (The climber, the swimmer and the archer)

Eré o, Eré ayò                                                (Play… Play of joy)

The brothers were awed by the beautiful song and they came out of their house  to find out who or what was singing it. They did not know that it was their dead mother who had come down from heaven in the guise of the bird to help them. When the bird saw the brothers, it tossed a climbing rope down at them. This climbing rope was not an ordinary climbing rope. It was a special climbing rope  that  was invisible to everyone but the three brothers. The brother that was a climber tested the rope and saw that it was strong enough to support his weight on a palm tree or a coconut tree. He knelt down and thanked the gods for their help.

The next day at exactly the same time, the bird returned and sang her song as usual. When the brothers came out of the house to see it, it tossed a girdle to the second brother then flew away. The second brother tested the girdle too and saw that it worked. On the third day, the bird returned with a bow and a quiver with a single arrow in it. She tossed it to the third brother and flew away. The brothers never saw her again. With their prayers having been  answered, the  brothers were happy and they confidently waited for the seventh day to come.

When the day finally came, everybody in the town showed up at the palace to see what would happen to the brothers. True to type, Tortoise was among the first set of people to get to the palace that day. The king called the first brother to come and climb the tallest coconut tree without a rope as he had promised that  he would. The brother quickly tied the invisible climbing rope around his waist and climbed the tree to the top. He then came down from the tree without any harm. Screams of disbelief rent the air as the townspeople rejoiced with him and congratulated him. Up next was the brother who was asked to swim the sea. He tied the girdle that the bird had given to him around his body, jumped into the sea and swam its length in record time. Finally the brother who had been told to shoot  the sky raised the bow and the arrow that the bird had given him, and fired it into the sky . The arrow disappeared into the sky and less than an hour later a powerful rattle confirmed that the arrow had indeed hit the sky. By this time, Tortoise was already shaking with anger and fear. He tried to run away, but he was arrested and prevented from doing so. The king then commanded that Tortoise be beheaded at the grove of Ogun, for slander against his fellow townspeople and for lying to the king.

As for the three brothers, because of  all the superhuman feats they all achieved, the king split all his fortune into two equal parts and gave the brothers half. The three orphan brothers thus became the wealthiest brothers in the kingdom and they lived happily and prosperously ever after.

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