Amaraefe and her sick Child

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!

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Igbo Literatures in view

List of Contemporary Igbo Literature
 1. Okpa Aku Eri Eri - Uche Odilora
 2. Isi Akwu Dara N' Ala - Tony Ubesie
 3. Omenuko - Pita Nwana
 4. Ala Bingo - Achara D.N.
 5. Dinta - Joseph Chukwu Mmaduekwe
 6. Adaaku - Obioma B. Mogbogu
 7. Ihe Onye Metere - Chinedum Oformata
 8. Onwu Egbughi Onye Uwa - Chinedum Oformata
 9. Oja Dufuo Dike - Ray C. Anene
 10. Akpa Uche - J.U. Tagbo Nzeako
 11. Udo ka Mma - Ray C. Anene
 12. Juo Obinna - Tony Ubesie
 13. Ukwa Ruo Oge Ya - Tony Ubesie
 14. Ugomma - G.N. Echebima
 15. Ebubedike - F.C. Ogbalu
 16. Nkoli - J.U. Tagbo Nzeako
 17. Chi Ewere Ehihie Jie - J.U. Tagbo Nzeako
 18. Abu Akwamozu - Sam Uzochukwu
 19. Isi Kote Ebu - Emeka Chukwukelu
 20. Ukpana Okpoko Buuru - Tony Ubesie
 21. Adaeze - Inno Nwadike
 22. Aka Ji Aku - J.U. Tagbo Nzeako
 23. Ukwu Jie Agu - J.U. Tagbo Nzeako
 24. Dimkpa - Joseph Chukwu Mmaduekwe
 25. Nwata Rie Awo - Goddy O. Onyekaonwu
 26. Ihe Ojoo Gbaa Afo - Chinedum Oformata
 27. Nkata Ekpudo Onye Ahuho - J.U. Tagbo Nzeako
 28. Agbusi Gbaa Otule - J.U. Tagbo Nzeako
 29. Chianu - Marshall Chibiko Ihedioha
 30. Chukwukadibia - Oriaku Ijeoma Okoroji
 31. E Nenebe Eje Olu - Tony Ubesie
 32. Ebubedike Na Igwekala - Clifford N. Esione Ugochukwu
 33. Ezinne - Chika Anyasodo
 34. Ikenga - F. Azoma Ihentuge
 35. Mbediogu - F.C. Ogbalu
 36. Mkpuru Onye Kuru - Ray C. Anene
 37. Nmoo Nmoo: Igbo Fairy Tales - Collected by F.C.Ogbalu
 38. Obidiya - Enyinna Akoma
 39. Omenka - Iwu Ikwubuzo, C. Uzodimma Ogbulogo, L. Chukwuneke Okoro 
 40. Obi Nwanne - Kalu Okpi
 41. Onye Chi Kere Eze - Thomas Okafo Okechukwu
 42. Onye Kpaa Nku Ahuhu - Inno Uzoma Nwadike
 43. Ocho Ihe Ukwu - I.N. Philip Okoye
 44. Odim Na Obi - Chinedum Oformata
 45. Oku Ghara Ite - Goddy O. Onyekaonwu
 46. Uwa Di Ogbu - Ibe Ositadimma
 47. Uchendu - Chukwu Ogbonna
 48. Ogbummadu Ndu N' Agu - Ben Igbokwe
 49. Nka Di Na Nti - B.C. Okoro
 50. Anu Gbaa Ajo Oso - Chinedu

Ọmenụkọ

OmenụkọN’ime Ọnwa a, anyị ga eleba anya n’akwụkwọ Pita Nwana dere nke a n’akpọ – Ọmenụkọ.