AN AFRICAN FOLKTALE: THE STOLEN SOUP AROMA

A long time ago in the village of
Ipetumodu, there lived a poor woman. This woman was so poor that she did not
have any soup for her eba. The eba is a starchy paste made from cassava flour
and it is rather unappetizing to eat all by itself. Across the street from this
poor woman lived another woman who cooked egusi soup every day.One day, as the poor woman was sitting down to her only meal for the entire
day, a small bowl of eba, the aroma from her neighbors cooking wafted down
through her window.

‘Perhaps she will be kind enough to let me have a little soup for my eba’ she
thought. So she took her bowl of eba and headed over to her neighbor who was
busy stirring a big pot of egusi soup.

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‘Please, may I have a little soup for my eba’, the poor woman asked.

The woman stirring the egusi soup looked up to see her raggedy-looking neighbor
and replied, ‘If you can’t make your own egusi soup, then you don’t deserve to
have any.’

The poor woman went back to her own hut and sat outside her doorsteps where the
aroma from her neighbors egusi was very strong. She would scoop some eba with
her hands, inhale a big dose of egusi soup aroma while she swallowed the lump
of eba.

The egusi woman, seeing this destitute neighbor eating her soup’s aroma got
very angry. She ran out and yelled at the woman ‘Stop eating the aroma from my
soup!’ But the poor woman did not stop, she kept inhaling the aroma from the
egusi soup while she ate her eba. She found the aroma from the soup very
satisfying.

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Every day, whenever the rich aroma of egusi soup wafted into the poor woman’s
hut, she would quickly make a little bowl of eba and go outside to inhale the
pleasant aroma. The egusi woman was getting very furious and she decided to
take her case to the oba, the king of their village.

‘This woman steals the aroma from my egusi to eat her eba. She must be punished’,
the egusi woman told the oba. The oba heard the story and agreed that the poor
woman should indeed be punished for stealing soup aroma and he ordered the
egusi woman to carry out the punishment.

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‘She stole your aroma therefore you shall flog her shadow’, the oba told the
egusi woman. ‘You shall flog her shadow forty times’ and she was given the big
stick with which she would carry out her justice.

The egusi woman, wielding her big stick to beat the poor woman’s shadow felt
very foolish. She felt so foolish that she asked the poor woman for forgiveness
and offered to give her real egusi soup from that day on.

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