The Hippopotamus and the Tortoise: Folk tale from Nigeria

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We bring to you a folk tale from Nigeria, about a Hippopotamus and a Tortoise. Listen to this story to learn how the wily tortoise is able to outsmart the hippopotamus.

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Read the story below

A very long time ago, there was a hippopotamus named Istanim. He was one of the biggest animals on the land just next to the elephant and was thus considered the king. The hippo had seven fat wives and loved all of them very dearly. He often organized lavish feasts for his people. Though all the people of the area knew the hippo, none other than his seven wives knew his real name.

One day, the hippo organised one of his regular feasts. Just when all the guests sat down for the lavish dinner, the hippo said, “Only those of you who can tell my name can enjoy the feast.” Everyone looked at each other’s face and no one knew the name of the hippo. So all of them had to go home leaving the delicious spread and the lovely wine.

Just before they all left, the tortoise asked the hippo, what he would do if the tortoise managed to guess the hippo’s name at the next feast. The hippo replied, “If you can find out my name before the next feast, I would leave the land along with my seven wives and dwell in the water forever.”

The tortoise was aware that every day the hippo and his wives went to the river to drink water and wash themselves. . The tortoise quickly came out of his hole and buried himself half into the sand leaving the other half exposed.

While the two wives were walking, the his wife accidentally bumped her feet against the shell of the tortoise. She immediately cried out loud, “Oh Isantim, my dear husband, please come and help me. I have hurt myself.”

The tortoise finally heard the name of the hippo and went home happily.

The next time when the hippo organised one of his usual feasts, the tortoise told the hippo that now he knew his name. The hippo asked him to tell his name. The tortoise asked the hippo to promise that he would not hurt the tortoise upon hearing his name. The hippo promised so.

“Isantim is your name,” the turtle said loudly. All the guests at the feast cheered loudly at the tortoise and sat down to enjoy their meal.

As per the promise,the hippo left with his seven wives after the feast. He went into the nearby river and started living there and never returned to land. Since then, hippos can be seen on the land only at night, while they stay underwater all day long.

Source: pitt.edu
Image courtesy: http://wordinfo.info/words/images/4-hippo-tortoise-eating.gif

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