Peasant Autonomy
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Story 51

South-east Nigeria – around 1910 (2)

The disobedient girl

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: William Muzi)


“Ogea,” Efuru calls, “look for Eneke, and ask him to come and tell a story.” It is already night, but there is a beautiful bright moon in the sky. All the children are playing outside. Soon a skinny man with grey curls arrives. The children greet Eneke excitedly.
“Settle down, then I will tell you the story of the disobedient girl, who had to marry a spirit”, he says. “Once upon a time I was in the land of Idu-na-oba. There I saw a wealthy woman with a beautiful daughter. Oh my, how beautiful she was. One day her mother had to go to the market. She had urged her daughter to stay inside, and had assigned all sorts of chores to her, in order to avoid her going out.”

“When the mother had just left, her friends came walking by. 'Come play outside,' they called, 'we will help you with your chores.' In no time all the chores were done, and the girls walked into the forest to the udara tree with its delicious fruits. While everyone was looking for fruits, a splendid ripe udara fell on the ground just in front of the girl. 'Thank you!' she called to the tree. 'Ho ho ho,’ called the spirit, who was sitting in the tree, 'now you are my wife.' The girls were frightened, and rushed back to the hut and locked the door, to prevent the spirit from entering. When the mother came home, she saw the spirit standing outside, and she at once understood that her daughter had disobeyed her. Oh, oh, what should she do?”

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: DocSlyper)


“But the girl was clever. She begged the spirit to let her say goodbye to her elder sisters. The spirit agreed. One of her sisters had a great plan. When the spirit was lying in bed with his new wife, and was deep asleep, she very quietly took everything out of the hut, and woke her sister. She bound banana leaves by the feet of the spirit, to let him think that his new wife was still sleeping with him. Together they slipped out of the hut. The sister climbed onto the roof of the hut with a can of kerosene, and poured it out on the roof. A few moments later the hut was engulfed in flames, and the spirit was dead.”

“He got what he deserved,” shout some children, “he should have left that girl alone.” “Please, Eneke,” says another, “tell us another story.” But Eneke stands up. “No, no, children, that's long enough for one day, I will have some drinks with the men of my age group.”


The book Efuru (1966) written by the Nigerian author Flora Nwapa is about the sadness of a woman who cannot bear children. But at the same time it gives an impression of the peasant life.

Go to:
= part 1: 'Do you think that money grows on trees in my garden?' - South-east Nigeria – around 1910 (1), story 50.
= the next page: As free as a bird - an estate in Hungary – 1910 (1), story 52.
= the Table of contents, story 51.