Amaraefe mụrụ ụmụ n’eri, ụmụ iri n’otu. Ekpenta taba otu n’ime ha. Enyi nwoke Amaraefe batara n’ụlọ Amaraefe wee hụ ka osi n’ata ahụhụ. Ọdịghị ihe ọzọ mere n’abụghị-ịsị ya k’otufue nwa ya nwere ekpenta. Amaraefe onye di ya nwunarịrị ya ele anya n’elu na ala. Ọdịghị ebe ọzọ ọga-esi nweta enyemaka. Ọkpọlite nwa ya ahụ ekpenta n’ata k’oje tufuo ya n’abọ nkwụ. Anya mmiri malitere gbaba ụmụnne iri ndị ahụ zuru oke. Amaraefe n’onwe ya n’agbasi anya mmiri ike bodobodobodo. Enyi ya nwoke tufuo ihu ya. Ọchọghị ihu anya mmiri ndịa. Amaraefe mesịrị tufuo nwa ya n’abọ nkwụ.
Kwa ụbọchi nwa ahụ atufuru atufu nọ n’akwa akwa n’agụkwazị egwu. Orue otu mgbe ụfọdụ ụmụnwanyị n’alọ ahịa; nwata a nwere ekpenta malitekwara n’agu egwu n’ebekwa akwa n’asị:
Nnem nwanyị Amaraefe – njom njoroko
Nnem nwanyị Amaraefe – njom njoroko
Amaraefe mụrụ ụmụ iri – njom njoroko
ụmụ iri n’otu – njom njoroko
Ekpenta taba otu – njom njoroko
Enyi ya nwoke abata – njom njoroko
Ọsị ya tufege ya n’abọ – njom njoroko
Ya tufege ya n’abọ – njom njoroko
Ube ejie mụ ejie – njom njoroko
Ube achaa mụ achaa – njom njoroko
Igbudu ahịa unu-anugo, unu anugo igbudu ahịa unu anugo – njom njoroko.
The translation of the folktale is:
[Amaraefe had 10 children. She had 10 children plus one. One of the children suffered from leprosy. Amaraefe’s boyfriend visited one day and advised her to throw the child away in the palm plantations. Amaraefe, a widow was distraught. When her other 10 children heard the proposition of their mother’s boyfriend they were upset and wept bitterly as well as Amaraefe. The boyfriend avoided eye contacts with both Amaraefe and the children. At last, she threw the child away in the palm plantations.
Night and day, the child in the palm plantations cried and sang at the same time. One afternoon, as some women returned from the market and were passing by the plantations, they heard the child crying and singing:
My mother is Amaraefe – njom njoroko
my mother is Amaraefe – njom njoroko
Amaraefe has 10 children – njom njoroko
10 children and one – njom njoroko
One suffered from leprosy – njom njoroko
Her boyfriend visited – njom njoroko
And said that he should be thrown in the plantations – njom njoroko
She threw him to the plantations – njom njoroko
Pear darkens, and I darken – njom njoroko
Pear ripens, and I ripen – njom njoroko
Market women you have heard, you have heard market women, you have heard – njom njoroko].
My mother told us (my siblings and I) this folktale when I was about seven years old. Then, I liked the refrain (njom njoroko) because of the sound of the phrase. Now I’m older I read into this tale different meanings like: birth control, poverty, disease, widowhood, frustration, dependency, disability and perhaps, androcentrism. The story didn’t say who was the father of Amaraefe’s 11 children. Of course, not the boyfriend, he wouldn’t have commanded that the sick child be thrown away. One for sure, Amaraefe had many mouths to feed and she needed support of a man. Perhaps, Amaraefe had no husband; perhaps, she was a single parent with 11 children.
In this little piece of tale underscores the insensitivity of the menfolk and their drive to raise up children for widows (especially in a situation where there is no male child and concerted efforts are made to have just one who will save the lineage from extinct). Amaraefe might be a victim of a search for a male child. It also shows the callousness and lack of empathy by the boyfriend. The suggestion to throw the child away in the plantations was height of it. He didn’t make any suggestion towards the child’s well-being or care. He considered the child a nuisance or a barrier between his feelings and the mother nursing her sick child. If the sick child went away, he would have her all to himself.
The salient point of the tale was the resilience of the child in the plantations. They wanted him dead, but he lived. They wanted to shut him up, but he kept singing and shouting. His mother didn’t hear him again, but other mothers heard him. He lost one mother and had many mothers. The moral truth about this tale is no matter what happens in life, you are not alone. Someone, somewhere is coming to get you. Don’t give up!