Folk Tales: I Searched for Rats, I searched for Fishes……..

The story below is another folktale. These stories are as old as the Yoruba race itself. They are probably completely real, based on real events or pure fiction. I guess we will never really know.  I want to believe most of them have been modified over time and this is majorly because they were transmitted orally from generation to generation. I have tried to maintain the basic features of these stories but still they have been told in my own voice as I cannot claim to remember them exactly as we were told while growing up.

Please drop comments whether to tell us how you remembered the stories in case your own version is different or to even mention some stories that you might have also heard. I am enjoying this, I hope you are also.



Mo weku  me reku

Mo weja me reja

Mo fori ade sebe, me le saroye oooo


Once upon a time, there was a woman who lived with her husband and two children in a small village. This woman loved gossiping so much and would sometimes leave her children alone at home to visit her friends.

So one afternoon, after her husband had gone to the farm, she wanted to visit a friend in the neighbouring village. She knew it would take some time before she got back and so she called her eldest son and told him to prepare stew for dinner.

She said; “Ajadi, look for rats in nearby bushes, if you cannot get a rat, go to the stream and look for fish. Whatever you do just make sure there is meat in the stew.”

Ajadi told his mum that he would do as she said.

Minutes after the mother left, Ajadi and Ade his five year old brother set out for the nearby bushes, he took with him a big stick. The method was simple; it was something he had done several times in the past. He would look for Rat holes and set fire to the entrance of the hole. He would stand with the big stick lifted in readiness to hit any unfortunate Rat that decided to run out.

That day however, it was as if all the rats in the bush had decided to go for a meeting in a neighbouring town, he set fires to several holes but not one rat came out. He was at it for several hours but all his efforts proved fruitless. When he was tired, they left the bush and headed for the river, Ajadi took with him a fishing line and bait. He told his brother to sit on the river bank while he went to the river side. He squatted and threw his line into the river but no fish came near. After spending several hours at the river without getting a Fish, they went back home.

Ajadi was sad; he knew he had to make sure there was meat in the soup. He knew his mother would be very angry if he cooked the soup without meat or fish. He thought long and hard about what he could do. Finally a thought came to him and smiling he picked a sharp cutlass.


Evening came and the mother returned from where she had gone to visit her friends. She went straight to the outdoor kitchen and was glad to perceive the aroma of freshly cooked soup. She opened the pot and used her finger to pick one of the meats in the pot. She popped it into her mouth and nodded her head immediately.

‘‘Such good and tasty meat’’, she said spitting some pieces of bone out.

‘‘Ajadi, Ade’’ she called out. ‘‘Í’m home ooo.’’

She patted Ajadi’s head as soon as he came in. ‘‘Welldone my son, you have certainly done well. This is a very tasty soup. Now all we need to do is make some eba for supper. Your father will be home anytime now. Get me the container of gaari from my room and where is your brother Ade? Is he sleeping?’’

‘‘Ade you said?’’ Ajadi asked

‘‘Yes, Adekitan. Where is he? Has he gone to play with Iya Alaso’s children?’’

‘‘No, mother. I don’t know how to say this so I will just say it with this song. I am sure mother you would understand.’’

Mo weku, me reku

{I searched for Rats, I couldn’t find Rats}

Mo weja, Me reja

{I tried fishing, but I couldn’t get a fish}

Mo fori Ade sebe

{So I decided to use Ade’s head to cook the soup}

Me le se aroye oo

{Do not disturb me as I don’t have the time or energy for much talk}

The woman cried out in disbelief and ran into the house calling Ade’s name frantically. She entered her room  and there she  saw the headless body of her younger son on the mud floor.

The End

Moral of the story is?

Folk Tales: The New Wife & TheMysterious Pot of Soup

Hallo there:

So the song below kept ringing in my head all week and I said; why not do a blog post on folk tales? Growing up my Mom told us lots of folk tales, they were usually told in Ijesha dialect and the songs were also in the dialect. We enjoyed those stories and would talk about them and sing those songs for days. I am going to share some of them over the next few weeks. There would be lots of Yoruba language. For those who do not understand, I would interprete some, the others you would just have to get someone to translate for you. *tongue out*.



Iyaale ile mo ruya…..tufele tufele oo

Baale ile moruya oo ….tufele tufele ooo



Many many years ago, in the days when men’s eyes were still on their knees, there was a farmer named Alani who lived in a small village with his wife Aduke.

One evening after eating a bowl of Pounded yam with Egusi soup that was garnished with a generous portion of Snail and Grass cutter meat, accompanied by a tumbler full of palm wine, he called his wife for a discussion.

“Aduke, sit down.” he said pointing to a bench on the porch.

“Do you know Ariyike the daughter of Olu Ode?”

“Baale mi, I know her very well. She is the daughter of Osunfunke; the adire seller.”

“O kare, aya mi. You know her indeed.”

“Errr, I have decided to take her as my wife.” He said making tsk tsk sounds with his teeth, a gesture that was meant to dislodge meat particles that may be hiding in the crevices of his Kola nut stained teeth.


“Ahhhh kini, you have an objection? You dare have an objection when your husband is talking?”

“Olowo ori mi oko mi, I dare not have an objection. Who am I to object?” Aduke said kneeling down immediately.

“O kare. Now get a room ready for her. She arrives tomorrow.”


“Baba, you forgot your cap.” Ariyike said as her husband was about to leave the room.

“Aya mi omo ola, thank you.” he replied bending his head so she can place the cap.

The senior wife was sitting on a bench in front of the house. She didn’t feel happy at all. She covered her ears to drown out the voices in the house, especially that of Alani and the new wife. Their newlywed banter both annoyed and made her blood boil.

The house was filled with people; family members who had come to keep the new wife company. Their presence did not annoy her as much as the fact that she was going to have to share her husband.

It was a man’s right to have as many wives as he wished. Aduke knew that but it didn’t stop her from being resentful. Perhaps her resentment was because she believed it was too soon. “I have not even enjoyed Alani for two moons.” She thought sulking.

Alani came out of his bedroom and exchanged greetings with their house guests. He glanced at Aduke and pretended he didn’t notice her sulking.

“Aduke, oya it’s time to go.” he said picking a cutlass and hoe.

“Good morning my husband.”

“It is already a good morning, stop talking and pick your hoe so we can start going.”

“Is Ariyike not going?”

“What sort of question is that? Have you ever heard of a new wife going to the farm?”

“Don’t be annoyed my lord. Let’s be on our way.”


So they went to the farm and after the sun had gone down they came back to the house. Aduke went straight to the outdoor kitchen after dropping her hoe; she had to make dinner as the new wife wasn’t supposed to cook yet.

She picked out two big tubers of yam and started peeling. Her husband had requested for pounded Yam and vegetable soup. She would boil the yam and then call one of the women in the house to help with the pounding. When she was done peeling, she rinsed the yam and placed them in an iron pot. Next she picked some dry twigs, placed them on the floor. She put some dried leaves on the twigs and poured a little palm oil. She struck the match and then bent down to fan the fire with her breath.

Once the fire was burning, she went to her bedroom to carry the pot of vegetable soup she had made earlier that morning. She picked it up and dropped it almost immediately screaming.

In gbami ooo, eku olowo mewa ti debe o.  Help, a rat with ten fingers has been here.

Her husband came in first followed by the new wife and the house guests.

“Kilode, what is the problem?” they all chorused

“Hey, hey mo ri oran. I am in trouble”. Aduke replied wailing.

“What is it, why was there so much noise, who died?” Her husband asked in a raised voice

“Ah, Kayefi nla ni.”  It’s a great mystery. Aduke said placing both hands on her head

“Aduke I said who died?” Alani repeated sounding irritated.

“My husband, you know how when you have a covered pot filled with water, when you want to carry such a pot, you do not carry it anyhow, you carry it with the mind that it is meant to be heavy. You don’t carry it the same way you would carry an empty covered pot.”

“Ehn ehn, we know. So what has that got to do with your scream?” An elderly woman asked.

“Thank you our mother. See this pot of soup. I made it before my husband and I went to the farm this morning but now it’s empty.” She opened the pot and showed everyone. It had been wiped clean and looked as though someone had eaten the content and even licked the pot.

“Aduke, are you sure about this?” her husband asked

“Yes my lord I am.” She replied

“I knew when she cooked it”, a small girl said. “I was the one who cut the Efo tete leaves for her.”

They all discussed it wondering who would have done such a thing but in the end they all agreed that Aduke should cook another soup.

And so Aduke cooked another pot of soup.


The next morning Aduke and Alani went to the farm again leaving the new wife and the house guests at home. That evening when they got home, the pot of soup was clean yet again. This went on for a week until Aduke decided she couldn’t take it any more. So she went to a great herbalist who was known in all the villages around the Osun River. He asked her to bring her cooking pot and ladle. She took them to him and he told her to come back to get them after two days. The day she went to collect her pot and ladle, he told her to cook another pot of soup and that this time around the thief would be caught.


Ariyike had done it so many times that the routine was now so easy and perfect. All she had to do was wait for midday when the house guests were either sleeping or playing games. That was the time nobody noticed if she was in her room or not, she would quickly slip into Aduke’s room, open the pot of soup and eat the soup until there was nothing left.

So the day it happened, she went to Aduke’s room as usual and started eating the Gbure soup her senior had made. It was nicely prepared with periwinkles, snail and bush meat.

“This is even more delicious than ever”. She said to herself licking her fingers. She was halfway through the pot when the wooden ladle suddenly jumped up and strapped itself to her chin. She stood up, horrified and tried to rip off the ladle but all her effort was fruitless.


The whole house was thrown into confusion, speculations went rife. Could she have run away? Could someone have come into the house to take her? The houseguests began to look for Ariyike, they searched the whole house and decided to go around the village maybe they would see her. They met Alani and Aduke on the way and they also joined in the search. Soon the whole village was looking for the missing new wife.

After several hours, someone spotted Ariyike in the backyard of an abandoned hut and they all moved close to her relieved to see her. Her head was bent and they began to talk to her begging her to look up. Her husband spoke to her apologizing for any wrong he might have committed. He appealed to her to look up and follow them home.

Ariyike stood up and the crowd collectively gasped looking at the wooden ladle that was gummed to her chin.

She faced the crowd and started singing.


Iyaale ile mo ruya  ……                                            tufele tufele o

{My senior, I am done for}

Baale ile mo ruya oooo                                              tufele tufele  o

{My husband, I am done for}

Mo joko jeje orupo                                                        tufele tufele o

{I was sitting gently on the porch, minding my business}

Mo joke jeje alede                                                         tufele tufele o

{I sat gently outside the house, minding my business}

Nipon ba tobere mo mi lagbon oooo                           tufele tufele o

{Then this ladle jumped out of nowhere and stuck firmly to my chin}

Mo ja ja ja ja, e ju ja                                                        tufele tufele o

{I have tried ripping it off but it won’t come off}

Mo kan kan kan e ju kan ooo                                          tufele tufele o

{I have hit it over and over all to no avail}

Mo fi Okuta rigidi kan ke ke                                          tufele tufele o

{I even used a big stone to hit it, hoping it would come off}

Ara ilu mo ruya o                                                           tufele tufele o

{Villagers I am done for}


The crowd did not believe her and so they paraded her around the village. They told her to continue singing while the little children danced behind her singing the chorus: tufele tufele o.

The next day, the new wife was sent away and the house guests returned to their homes and villages. That was how Ariyike lived the rest of her life in her father’s house with the ladle stuck to her chin until the day she died.

The end

Moral of the story is……………………

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