The Children

Origin: African Yoruba Tribe

Theme: The importance of respecting elders and what can happen if one forgets to follow through on an agreement.

For a long time the women of the village had been unable to have children. The women were very sad and longed to have children. To deal with this the village had a meeting and decided to consult the great mother of the village for help. The women went to talk to her; they went to her house but they could not find her. She was sitting by the river behind her house. When she saw them coming she said, “What’s the matter?” They told her their problem and asked if she could help them. The wise woman said that she would pray for them, and that if their hearts were free of guilt, hatred, and deceit then they would have children. She also told them that they must never forget what she had done for them. The women assured her that they would never forget her.

Soon the women had children, and many of the women had twins. This continued for five years. Everyone in the village was happy, but they ignored the wise woman. No one in the village visited her or helped to take care of her.

Soon there was drought, and all the children fell ill with a fever. The people of the village knew that a special herb was needed to heal them and that only the wise woman knew how to prepare it. The women went to find the wise woman, but she was hiding from them. They searched for five days and then finally found her. They asked for her help. She told them to get her wild lettuce. Then she told them to get cornstarch porridge. Then she told them to bring her kola nuts. She mixed all these together and made a poultice which cooled the childrens’ fever.

The people of the village rejoiced with dancing and singing. They realized that it was their job to take care of their elders. The women of the village cleaned for the great mother and prepared her food. The men helped repair her house. They never forgot to show her respect. The people of the village learned that children were a great blessing and that they needed to take the responsibility of the children seriously. They had made a promise to the wise woman when they had children, but then they ignored it. They had to keep their word to have healthy children. The wise woman is like the earth. The earth gives us everything we need, clean water and food, but if we don’t take care of the earth none of us can live.

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