A Tale Of Three Goats By Toyin Fabunmi


She pulled open the wooden window and inhaled the smell of fresh goat droppings that wafted into the room. The sky was still a little dark as dawn was just approaching. She put out her head and saw her Goats milling around the courtyard. She had over twenty goats but Egbin wasn’t hard to spot even among hundreds of goat so her heart skipped a beat, when she couldn’t see the goat. “So Egbin didn’t come home eventually?” She whispered.


Egbin had a special place in her heart; apart from the fact that she was so beautiful, she was the goat that Adunni’s in-laws had brought as part of her bride price. Her coat was the colour of snow and dried grass ingeniously mixed by the creator himself. Her long and graceful neck was covered with snow- white hair that was without blemish and Iya Ijesha had fallen in love with the goat at first sight. She believed that there was never a more beautiful goat since the beginning of time. She was glad when Egbin got pregnant and prayed everyday that Egbin would give birth to a kid that would have its beauty.


“No, nothing must happen to Egbin” she whispered again in the dark room. The goat was pregnant and so was Adunni, everyone knew the fate of a bride and the goat used as her bride price was intertwined. The goat had to be fine; Adunni’s wellbeing in Lagos depended on it Iya Ijesha thought determined to find the goat at all cost.  She sent a silent prayer of protection to Orunmila; asking the deity to keep both Adunni and Egbin safe; That said she re-tied her wrapper firmly around her waist and moved to the front of the house.


“Tilewa”, she screamed.

“Ma”, the girl replied falling on her knees in front of Iya Ijesha.


“Moomi, hin kaaro.” My mother, Good Morning”

“Inle, omo mi”. “Well done my child”.  She said patting her head.

Tilewa was her first grandchild, the first child of her first son. Mama Ijesha had taken the girl from her parents before she was two years old, saying that eleran lo ni akobi” The owner of the goat owns the firstborn. Tilewa’s parents didn’t mind, they both agreed that it wasn’t good that the old woman should be alone.


“Tilewa, have you seen Egbin today”, Mama Ijesha asked.

Moomi, I don’t think Egbin came home”

Iya Ijesha sighed. She and Tilewa had searched all the neighboring bushes and houses up until around 10.30pm the previous night thinking that perhaps Egbin stepped on a thorn somewhere. A thought crossed her mind and she wondered whether someone had stolen Egbin. It wasn’t a far fetched thing, she reasoned considering such things happen quite often in their neighborhood.


Iya Ijesha sat down on the bench in front of the house thinking of what her next line of action should be. She stood up; suddenly sure of what she needed to do. The people who stole her goat had to return it; she would make sure they did. Now is the time she thought.




“Lati, kilode! Do you want to kill yourself over a mere goat or what kind of madness is this?” Ayinde asked angrily.


“Ayinde, there will be trouble in this house if I don’t see my goat this morning because I am very sure that it is your………”


“My what? onisokuso! You better take it easy, because that’s how you were tossing and turning in your sleep all night murmuring your goat’s name like a cursed individual.”


“You can say I am saying rubbish, but I promise you that somebody will leave this world today if I don’t see my goat and that person won’t be me. You had better ask your wife, Ayinde, call your wife and ask her where she hid Ayesoro.”


Lati left the room banging the door after her; she grabbed a stool from the passage and placed it in front of her rival’s room and standing on it she launched her first attack.




Sholape was worried about her goat, it never stayed out overnight; the Goat was always by the gate whenever she came back from school in the evening waiting for her to open so it could enter. She wondered if someone had stolen it or it had trespassed into someone’s farm and had been shot. She shuddered wondering if there exists anyone that would be so callous to animals. She knew she should be out looking for the goat but she had a lot of tasks to finish before 7 am when she would leave for her work place. She resolved to wait till evening when she would have time to search.



Iya Ijesha climbed the stairs to the upper floor of her one storey building and chose a vantage position where her voice could be heard by everyone in the neighborhood. She rarely came up because of the stress of climbing as her right leg was ravaged by arthritis but that morning she climbed the stairs with an agility borne out of the determination to find Egbin.

She cleared her throat and began to deliver her message in a voice that rang clear and true in the early morning air.



Oni ba gbe ewure mi kegbe ele ooooo              whoever stole my goat should release it

Oni ba gbe ewure mi kegbe ele ooooo              whoever stole my goat should release it 

Ke ba gbe e le Lùkúlùkú, Sanpona ,                 If he/she fails to do so, Lùkúlùkú, Sanpona

Ati Olode la pa gbogbo ile re run oo                and Olode will destroy his/her household

 Ke bagbe e le,                                                   if he/she fails to release it

onitohun ni jere ise owo re                               the person will fail in all his ventures

Ewure mi dara bi egbin,                                  My Goat is as beautiful as egbin

ose pataki si mi ooooo                                      It is very important to me

In gbe ele oooo                                                Release it oooo

Emi Iya Ijesha ni ooo.                                     It is I, Iya Ijesha



Lati checked that she was well balanced on the stool and that she was facing her rival’s door directly. Satisfied, she started her song;


Kokoro owo yara mi lowa                      the key to our husband’s purse is in my room

Apoti owo yara mi lowa                         the purse that houses the money is in my room

Oko ti en ku le lori                                  the husband you want to kill yourself over       

 Yara mi lo’n sun                                     spends his nights in my room

Otutu ni o pa eni ti o loko                       she who has no husband will die of cold

A si ma ka sio sio                                    such people are always withdrawn and depressed


Ayinde hissed standing up from the bed furiously as he heard Lati’s voice, what kind of woman is this; he cursed pulling the door angrily. He froze and turned the door knob again. He glanced at the key hole and discovered the key was missing. So Lati locked me in the room, he thought. He remembered what his father had said when he told him he was marrying Lati as his second wife, the man had told him she was going to be the end of him. He had shrugged his father off then but now he believed. He sat down on the bed listening as Aduke his first wife’s voice rent the air.


Oni bata gogoro mafi te mi ooo                              don’t trample me with your high heels

Oni bata gogoro mafi te mi ooo                              don’t trample me with your high heels

Sebi ile lo bami                                                       did you not meet me in this house?

Sebi emi ni iyale                                                      am I not your senior?

Oni bata gogoro mafi te mi ooo                               don’t trample me with your high heels


Lati re-tied her wrapper firmly around her waist, so she even had the guts to reply, I will deal with this woman today she thought clearing her voice, she banged heavily on her rival’s door:

“Come out you unfortunate woman,”

“Come out and show me your face”

“Come out and tell me what you did to Ayesoro my goat.”

“Come out useless woman and face me.”


The whole house was silent except for Lati’s voice, her rival was determined not to open the door or engage in a further war of words with her; she was tired of Lati’s troubles. She resolved to keep quiet certain that Lati would go away when she was tired of shouting.




“Don’t you think this Goat business is funny?” the first clerk asked

“It is more than funny” his partner replied. “In fact I am very uncomfortable about this whole thing. How can we be arresting Goats for Christ sake, we are like a huge Joke and the whole country will have a good laugh at our expense when this gets out.”

been bad

“What’s your own, nobody will know you are the arresting officer now; it’s his Excellency they would direct their abuse at.”

The first clerk; Kowope burst into laughter holding his sides, “arresting officer abi what did you just say.”

“Goat arresting officer now” Tifase; the second clerk replied and they both rolled in laughter.



It was Kofo one of Iya Ijesha’s tenants, the one that sewed aso ofi in her one bedroom apartment that told Iya Ijesha that her Goat was in the government’s custody. She watched the news on the TV and recognized Egbin immediately.  She ran to the old woman’s room and told her breathlessly where her goat was.


Iya Ijesha was distraught. “The government will not return Egbin she lamented; they will be too taken by her beauty”

“Iya Ijesha, just take 2500 naira and go there to bail your goat”, Kofo advised.

“They stole my Goat and I still have to pay for its release?” Iya Ijesha asked incredulously, “Haa, this government is wicked ooooo.”



Lati was alone in her husband’s room when she saw Ayesoro on TV. Ayinde had warned her strictly not to leave the room for the rest of the day after forcing her to apologize to her co-wife.

She rushed out of the room immediately she saw the news but that was not before she had taken some money to use in bailing Ayesoro from Ayinde’s trousers, the one he hang on a nail driven into the wall.


She ran out of the compound, ignoring Ayinde’s screams for her to go back into the house before Sango strikes her down. I will deal with Ayinde later she thought, her mind completely on rescuing her beloved goat.




Sholape saw it on the news later that night and turning to her husband, she told him it might be her goat as one of them seemed the right colour and size. Besides, the one she thought was hers was the only one left and the news caster had been saying the law enforcement agency was waiting for the owner to come and bail the goat.

“What nonsense”, Babatunde exclaimed

“Are you out of your mind, you would go and bail a goat. Can’t you see these people are clowns?”

“I mean, who arrests goats for Christ’s sake?”

“Anyway I have always told you I hate the sight of Goats in my house, so just break down the goat pen and forget about all this. By the way you can keep the chickens at least they lay eggs.”

“But I was grooming that Goat for Christmas ooo.” Sholape protested.

“I told you I don’t have money to give you to buy meat abi?” Her husband said giving her a look that signified the discussion was over.


 Meaning of some terms:

Lùkúlùkú — this refers to a terrible and incurable disease. It is a curse commonly used by the Ijeshas ofOsun State

Sanponna—Small Pox

 Olode: An incurable disease

Sango: The god of thunder

 Ęgbįn: The Yoruba word for Gazelle. The animal is considered to be the most beautiful.












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