Palm-oil Daughter (An African story)
was once a very rich woman who lived in a country-side near a stream. She
had lots of palm oil trees; every week, she and her servant collected the
fruits from the trees, crushed out the oil and put them in oil jars. When
the market price for palm oil was high, she sold it and made lots of
money. But, though
she was very wealthy, the woman was not happy because she had no child. In
the evenings, while the young men and women danced in the moonlight, the
woman sat alone crying, ''Oh! How I wish I had a child!''
morning, the woman went to the market with her servant to sell a few pots
of oil. As soon as they had gone, a strange happened: some palm oil began
to flow out of the largest oil jar; the oil went straight up into the air,
and turned into a beautiful golden-brown girl.
this song: Palm oil
flow, palm oil flow,
Mother needs firewood, who will go?
Who will fetch the water, sweep the floor,
Who'll watch the plates, pound the millet?
Come forth, maidens four, there's work for you all!
sang, four other young girls like her gradually came out of four other
shall we do now, Manuba?'' they asked eagerly. Manuba sang her song again
and the four other oil girls immediately set out to work: they swept and
cleaned the floor, watched the dirty cloths and dishes, also they dusted
the chairs and pounded the millet. When they had finished, all the four
girls including Manuba went back into the oil-jars they came out from.
woman and her servant came back home, they were surprised to see all the
housework already done. At first, the woman asked her neighbours but they
all said they knew nothing about it. The same
thing happened the next day and the next. The woman did not know what to
After a few
days, the woman decided on what to do. She hid outside the door. When she
saw the girls and sighted Manuba singing, she quickly ran and held her by
the arm. The other girls quickly disappeared. Manuba wanted to escape too,
but, after much begging and pleading from the old woman, at last, she
decided to stay. But, however, she warned the woman never to allow her go
near the fire. The woman gladly agreed to this.
For a few
weeks, hey lived happily together. But, the woman was foolish, she did not
allow Manuba do any work. Instead, she made her maid do it all. This made
the maid to be angry and she wasn't pleased.
weeks passed, and the maid grew more and more angry with Manuba. ''Why
should I do all the work while she does nothing?' She continuously asked
One day, the woman went out to her farm. When she saw that the woman had
gone, the maid called Manuba:
''Manuba, come here and blow on the fire, or the meal won't be ready in
time for supper.''
''Oh no!'' exclaimed Manuba. ''If I go near the fire, I shall melt and
''Nonsense! You are just being lazy,'' shouted the maid, not believing
The servant caught Manuba and dragged her towards the fire. Suddenly,
Manuba began to melt, and she melted away before her very eyes. Very
frightened, the maid ran away.
In a nearby
tree hung a bird who had been watching all these while. It flew down and
dipped its tail in the oil on the floor where Manuba had melted, and flew
away to find Manuba's mother. Manuba's mother was working on the farm
when the bird suddenly flew down and sang this song:
spreading across the floor,
Manuba's mother, Manuba's mother.
Your lovely daughter is no more,
Manuba's mother, Manuba's mother.
To prove to you that my story is true,
I have dipped in my tail and now show it to you!
the woman refused to believe this, but when she saw the bird's tail, she
quickly dropped her things and ran home. But, it was too late. She found
only a dark wet, red stain across the floor. She never saw her lovely
daughter again !
Contributing Story Teller
Ms. NUO Nwando Obianyor is a teacher
by Occupation at Kaduna, Nigeria