Lightning and Thunder: A Efik Folktale

Cross River State Nigeria - Folkli
General Location: Cross River State / Map data ©2018 Google

This Efik folktale tells the tale of Thunder and Lighting, who caused so much damage on earth that they were forced to move.

In the old days thunder and lightning lived on the earth amongst all the other people, but the king in all his wisdom made them live at the far end of the town, as far removed as possible from other people’s houses.

Thunder was an old mother sheep, and Lightning was her son, a ram. Whenever the ram got angry he used to go about and burn houses and knock down trees; he caused damage on the farms, and sometimes he even killed people.

Whenever Lightning did these things, his mother used to call out to him in a very loud voice to stop and not to do any more damage; but Lightning did not care in the least for what his mother said, and when he was in a bad temper he often did a large amount of damage. At last the people could not stand it any longer, and complained to the king.

The king made a special law that forced the sheep (Thunder) and her son, the ram (Lightning), to leave the town and live in the bush. This did not do much good, as the ram burnt the forest, and the flames spread to the farms.

The people complained again, and the king banished both Lightning and Thunder from the earth and made them live in the sky, where they could not cause so much destruction.

And yet, to this day, when Lightning is angry he causes damage as before, and you can hear his mother, Thunder, rebuking him and telling him to stop. Sometimes, however, the mother is at some distance from her naughty son, and you can see that he is angry, but his mother’s voice is nowhere to be heard.

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