The Tale of Omekagu – Chapter One

The tale of Omekagu, An Igbo folk tale

The Tale of Omekagu – Chapter One, Igbo to English translation, Mike Ejeagha’s song, Omekagu, lyrics, Igbo folk music, Opi, Omenani, folksong, Fablingverse folktales, Igbo folktale, fabling, ọfọ na ogu, free to read, read free stories from Africa

Has it ever been known that a story would be titled after a secondary character? And has the yam sprouted with its bottom first? Yet, it became known in the tale of Omekagu. The child who had done nothing to deserve his fate, other than existing as himself, A Favored Child. 

Omekagu was born In the center of the village market, on the day of Eke. The villagers will remember this day because it was as strange and as awe-striking as the events that will follow. They will remember how Omekagu’s father took the baby from the midwife just after she had wiped off the blood from his head and had his father cut his umbilical cord, They will remember the look in the Old King’s eyes and the realization that the child had become the only thing he could see, the child after his heart, and they will remember the look in the true heir’s eyes, and the realization, that his favor in the King’s eyes had been overshadowed,

On that day, despite being heavily pregnant, The king’s wife insisted on partaking in his weekly parade. The villagers always thought it was strange, she was not his first wife, yet, since she became his second wife, she had acted as if she was his one and only. Even before that, from the day he asked for her hand, she would join him on his parade until his first wife slowly vanished into the village’s memory. Omekagu was born on one of those parades. 

His birthday was a spectacle, and yet the most memorable thing about it was not the adulations showered on him by his father, it was not the theatrics his mother had displayed during his birth either, it was not even his father raking through his brain for a suitable name for his heart, he wanted a name that portrayed strength, it was not the loud voice with which the King had proclaimed “Omekagu! This is my child! This is my heir! Omekagu, the child who is like a leopard! The strongest and the most handsome! Omekagu.”

No, none of those were the most memorable moments of his birth. It was the look of disdain and realization on his elder brother’s face, the stance of utter defeat that the young boy’s body held, how he clutched his father’s stool to his chest, and the tears that fell down his face as he stared at his father and Omekagu. 

He knew he had lost his birthright before he was old enough to prove he deserved it.

That night, after he returned from the parade, he ran into his mother’s hut and into her clad thighs to weep. “He said Omekagu will be his successor, he will kick us out! What is wrong with me? Why does he not like me?”

His mother waited until he had said everything he wanted to before she stroked him from the back of his head to his waist until he stopped crying. “When you were born, the dibia himself came, He declared you will be king. He said the Gods had chosen you as king. So don’t worry, just keep being a good boy, obey your father, and one day, he will realize that you are capable.”

She had given him hope that night, a hope she herself had lost a long time ago, yet she had given it to her son, and when he left for his room, she too broke down and cried.

Ten years after the birth of Omekagu, his brother still held that hope, he still revered his father, he still diligently supervised the farm workers, he still escorted them on the walks with Omekagu, and when he could, he still tried to help the villagers, all in hopes that his father would finally acknowledge him. But nothing he did seemed to get past the emotions that a single smile from Omekagu sparked in their father. 

So in his eighteenth year he decided to stop going on the walks. He reminded his father that he had servants to carry his and Omekagu’s mother’s stool and he would no longer parade with them. At first, his resolve gladdened his parents, but when they noticed that the villagers were more excited about his walks than they were about theirs, his father called him and accused him of trying to steal the spotlight from Omekagu. He called him wicked, he called him jealous, he called him petty, and lacking the wisdom to become king. So Omekagu’s brother began to walk with them again.

“Don’t you hate Omekagu?” As he lay under a Mango tree with a slain antelope beside him, he recalled the dibia walking close enough to whisper to him on one of the days he had walked behind his father. 

‘Do I hate Omekagu?’ He wondered. If the boy was never born, maybe his father would like him, or maybe he wouldn’t. Omekagu’s brother could not recall a time when his father liked him. He shut his eyes and waited for the day to pass.

“Brother, Brother, Brother!” He woke up to see Omekagu running towards him. 

“What is it?” He asked. Angry at being woken up and definitely not excited to see the younger boy. 

“Look what I made for you!” Omekagu held up a bead necklace with a lion’s tooth as a pendant. 

“Is that not your father’s lion tooth?” Omekagu’s brother asked.

“It’s for me. He gave it to me yesterday.” He moved it closer to his brother. “Now It’s for you! Besides, you are the one who caught the lion, so it belongs to you.”

Omekagu’s brother sighed. He did not hate his brother, he could not. The little boy had done nothing wrong. Aside from their father favoring Omekagu at his expense, Omekagu was a good brother. He was observant, and always tried to compensate his brother, but he was just a child and there was little he could do to influence the adults around him.

“Thank you.” Omekagu’s brother put on the necklace. “But father cannot see me wearing it.”

“Here!” Omekagu handed him a pouch,

“What is it for?” He asked.

“To keep the necklace when you are around your father,” Omekagu said. “When you are out hunting, wear it, or when you have something difficult, let it remind you that you are strong, the strongest! You are the strongest man in this town!”

Omekagu’s brother laughed. No, he did not hate Omekagu. “It’s getting late.” He took off the necklace, placed it in the pouch, and tucked the pouch into the side of his cloth. 

“Can I eat the antelope with you today? I’m tired of eating chicken with mummy and daddy.” Omekagu asked. 

“Only if you can sneak into my mother’s kitchen.” Omekagu’s brother said. “I’ll leave some by the window.”

“Of course! Just like you are the strongest, I’m the sneakiest!” He boasted. 

What do you think?

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