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  • Writer's pictureKingsley Nwabia

Birth of a Myth/Legend!

I love stories.

I’ve always loved stories, ever since I was a little kid and I still do to this day, be it Folktales, Fables, Legends, Myths and to a certain degree, even local gossip. I love them all and can never seem to get enough.

I’m particularly partial to Greek mythologies, the gods of Olympus and their antics, the origins of creations, the heroes of mythology, the monsters, all of it!

(Sad thing is though, if anyone were to ask me about any Nigerian mythological stories, I couldn’t tell them any. I may have vague recollections of one or two, but nothing coherent and I always wondered why My people’s myths and legends weren’t really promoted or taught in schools…. but I digress.)

Regardless of which story I'd heard or read, one thing I’d always wondered was, Who came up with these stories? I mean, How were these legends born in the first place?

It is said that behind every myth or legend, there’s an element of truth or a true event. But then my question was, how does an ‘ordinary’ event morph into a fantastical story just by being told over and over again? How does that work? How does an ordinary person achieve the reputation of one such as Hercules?

Well, I found out firsthand how a myth/legend could easily be born…. when it happened to me!

It was the year 2016. I’d travelled home to my village along with my family, to participate in the fun

eral arrangements and activities for our dad. We (my family and I) traveled from Lagos to the village in a chartered bus, loaded with food items and other things needed for the funeral.

We arrived on what was apparently the village ‘market day’, so the front of my father’s compound was lightly crowded by local farmers and traders doing their things.

Our bus pulled up outside the gates and we all got off and started carrying our loads into the compound. Now bear in mind that many of my kinsmen had never really laid eyes on me or my siblings long enough to really know who we were, so as you’d expect, there were curious onlookers staring at ‘these people’ who just arrived in their midst, but once they saw my mother, many were able to put two and two together.

Now one of the last items taken off the bus, was a large brown coloured 50/60kg bag of rice. I saw this bag of rice on the floor and casually picked it up, tossed it on my shoulder and walked into the compound. (Remember this!)

A couple of days later, as I sat at the local kiosk having a drink and familiarizing myself with ‘my people’, someone walked up, spoke to the owner of the joint and asked, “Is the man who lifted a whole cow with one hand?” gesturing at me.

“Yes!” Replied the owner of the kiosk.

I spat out my drink! “Wait what??” I asked in total confusion.

Basically, remember that brown bag of rice I’d carried when we arrived?

Apparently watching me do that was a man in the village (who, by my conclusion, must have been ‘3 sheets to the winds!’, 'Dotti eyed!', 'Seeing the gods in living colour!' if you catch my drift!). For some reason, he saw me pick up the bag of rice and somehow, instead of a bag, his brain registered it as a cow!

I am not making this up!

This man then promptly ran and told the kiosk owner, that until I and my family leave, he’s never setting foot in that part of the village again, for if ‘this man’ can lift a whole cow with one hand effortlessly, what can he do to an ordinary human?!? And so it began!

I tried to explain what had really happened but no one was interested in listening to my true version of events.

Before you knew it, the story had spread throughout the entire village and into neighbouring villages. My older brother even told me he had gone to see the priest about the burial service arrangements at the church and the first thing the priest asked him was, “Are you the one that they say lifted a cow with one hand???” My brother couldn’t believe it! And so the story continued to spread.

The people of the village started addressing me, by various names (not disrespectfully), from Senior Bros! (Big/Senior brother), Broda Dada! (dreadlocks brother), Killiwee!!! (that was the name of a legendary Nigerian strong man from back in the days) and so on.

A couple of nights after the funeral, we made some provisions for the youths of the village to celebrate and have a party just outside our gates as part of the festivities. This was when I knew the legend of 'me' had gone out of control.

They had an MC for their party who addressed then on his mic and speakers. The following are just a couple of the things we heard coming from him as he addressed the village youths throughout the night. Now all were said in my native tongue, which was many times more hilarious, but I’ll try to do it justice in English.

MC: People! As you can see, the family has given us drinks, animals etc, so that we may enjoy and honour the passing of their father. PLEASE, please, if any of you have any intentions of going into their compound to steal or misbehave, DON’T DO IT!

We have all this space up to their gate. Stay out here and enjoy. Be warned! You have seen the ‘Senior Bros’ that lives there!

A person that lifted a whole cow with one hand? Hmm…if the devil pushes you and you go into that compound and he catches you, he will fold you in four and use you to block the sewers!

(At this point my now late brother was laughing himself silly!)

MC: (After a few minutes had elapsed) One more time, I implore all of you here please keep to our space here and do not disturb the family. Remember the ‘Giant’ inside! if you go in there and he gets hold of you? Somebody that had no problem with a whole cow? He will stretch you by the throat and use you for javelin practice!

And it went on and on…. I was dumbfounded! My siblings and I laughed ourselves helpless!

Like this wasn’t bad enough, I had to go and unintentionally make it worse a couple of days later.

We had some dug-up earth(from where the grave had been dug) and since the path in front of the kiosk I hung out at was uneven and eroded(a common problem in those parts) we decided to carry and pour the earth over the path.

Because I had nothing else to do, I decided to stomp-march the earth to even it out. That’s how by evening time, another angle was added to my myth. For not only was I the guy who lifted a cow with one hand, I was also now the guy who paved the entire section of the 'market road' by just stomping on it with his feet. No machines required! Incredible I tell ya!!!

At this point I remember thinking to myself, ‘So that’s how myths and legends are created from mundane acts!’

Till I left the village, whenever I’d take a walk around the market, one or two kids would run away from me in terror, while many of the people there would stare at me questioningly, and personally, I couldn’t blame them. With what they must have heard, combined with my physical stature/appearance, with me looking like the 'Village Oracle’s hired assassin'… what else was I to expect?

Its been about 5 years since that trip, and from what I’ve heard, the story is still being told!

Heck, not long ago, my bro even told me (and sent me a video) of my little niece annoyed at some people handling a Christmas cow or something and she just blurted out, “If uncle Kingsley was here…” Caught him completely off guard! :)))))))))))

I swear it’s unreal!

Now having witnessed the birth of ‘my own legend/myth’, if these stories survive (Though thankfully I doubt they will, but with village people, one never knows!) for generations, I wonder what version of the events would be told 100yrs from now. Some distant descendant would hear this story of someone from his/her lineage and just find him/herself asking,‘What was the truth behind this cow-lifting, road-paving, Paul Bunyan-like ancestor of mine?’ Lol!

Hey come to think of it, I’m fairly certain that that’s how the myth/legend of the American folk hero (Paul Bunyan) was created too.

God I love stories! :)))))))))

Till the next blog post, take care and stay safe!

Also if you wanna support my works, pls consider getting one of my awesome t-shirts, or prints or art!


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