Narrated by Bertha D. Yakubu
“Dad, why are we called the Eagle clan?” the son asked.
“It is because we are the strongest clan in the land”, answered the dad.
“I am not very strong”, said the son.
“Every eagle boy is a strong person. We are special and we can survive anything. The gods have blessed us. No one is going to take that away from us”, he said.
The father continued, “Don’t worry I am going to teach you the secret of life so that you can be strong. It is not a physical strength we are talking about but the strength of character.”
The dad began to tell him the history of the Eagle clan. He said a long long time ago, their great, great, great….. grandfather was taken by an eagle when he was a baby. On that fateful morning, the mother had fed, bathed and messaged the baby and left it to sunbathe, when an eagle swooped down and took the baby and flew away with it. The older children playing outside began to scream and called out to the adults, but when they came the eagle had gone with the child. They did not know where it had taken the baby. They knew the eagle live high up on the mountain. It catches birds and small animals for its food. The eagle uses its claws and beak to tear open its preys. The mother believed the eagle had eaten her baby. She was very sad. The whole village mourned the baby and composed a song about what had happened to this child.
Palm wine tapper.
It went like this:
“It was a sad day for mum”
“It was a sad day for dad”
“It was a sad day for everyone”
“When the eagle took our son away.”
The eagle took the baby and flew to a far place. It did not eat the baby but left it on the top of a palm tree near a village.
A palm wine tapper lived in the village. Palm trees are very tall they can reach the height of 10 to 15ft. It produces sweet sap, which can be drunk fresh or left to ferment and becomes palm wine. An incision is made into the palm tree near the top of the tree and a bottle or a gourd is placed at the mouth of the incision where the palm juice runs into the gourd.
The palm wine tappers climb the palm tree by using a thick rope around his waist and skip one step at a time. He collects the sap twice a day.
On that day, the palm wine tapper went up to collect his palm wine. He heard a baby crying on top of the tree.
He was afraid, he thought it might be a horrible or dangerous animal up there but he could not think of any animal that cried like a human being. He wondered who would leave a baby on top of a tree. He almost let go of the rope. He just wanted to fall back to the ground. It would have been dangerous if he did that because he could break his bones or kill himself. He thought, maybe it was an alien baby. He had heard many stories about aliens when he was a little boy but he had never seen one. He wanted to leave the baby on the palm tree, but he was curious to see what an alien child looked like. It cried like a human baby but did it look like a human baby? He wanted to find out. He crept up further and further up the palm tree and stretching his neck to see the “thing.” When he looked at it, it looked like a human baby; it was sucking its thump. It had bruises on its body.
He took the baby and put it in his skin bag that he hanged on his shoulder and brought it home. He was not sure if this was really a human baby but it looked like one. His wife had recently had a baby boy who was called Uten. When the wife saw the baby she was not sure whether to feed the baby or not. When the baby started crying, she decided to feed the baby. She fed, bathed and treated the wounds. The alien boy (as he was called) was given the name Rimantanun which means (it is only the gods that know). She looked after the two boys. Nobody in the village could tell why a human child would be left on top of a tree. There was no child that was missing in the village either.
The two boys grew up together like brothers. They played together, ate together and slept on the same bed.
Rimantanun grew up to be a handsome looking man. He was a very hard working boy, focussed and very respectful of the elders in the village. Everyone talked about his good behaviour. He listened to his mum and his dad. He helped out as much as he could on the farm; he helped the mum with fetching of firewood and water. The parents noticed that the Rimantanun seemed to be more obedient and more helpful than their real son is.
This observation began to worry about the parents especially the mum. She felt Rimantanun, who is not really her son, might come to inherit her husband’s household and not her son. She began to treat the boys differently. She would give Rimantanun smaller portion of food and bigger share to her son. She kept an extra bit everything for her son. She gave difficult jobs to Rimantanun and lighter work to her son. She complained all the time about Rimantanun’s behaviour. The husband warned her that such behaviour was not good, she was spoiling her son even more. All his talk and warning fell into a deaf ear. Uten was rude to people, very unhelpful to anybody. He was particularly very rude and nasty to old people. Everyone complained about his behaviour.
Their father was getting old and his wife wanted to know who would inherit his properties?
He told her, ” I have two boys and I love them very much.”
“Tradition expects me to give my properties and my household to my son, but Rimantanun behaves more of a son to me than my own son.”
“It will be wrong of me not make him the head of the house.”
” He is more responsible.”
“Over my dead body”, said the wife.
“How can you give your household to a total stranger that we don’t know if
He is human or not.”
The husband responded, “I am not giving in to your son either, that would be unfair.” “Uten would waste everything.”
” He is very irresponsible.”
The boys are now grown-up men. Their father told them, ” My sons I am really very proud of you and wish you the best in life. One of you will continue to head this family when I am too old do so or when I am dead and gone.” ” To be the head of a family is a big responsibility. You must be brave, kind, firm, fair and above all be focussed in looking after your family and upholding the family name.” ” I shall not give this responsibility to any of you just like that, you must earn it, and therefore I am going to give you a test. Whoever wins becomes the head of the house.”