Why the Bat flies by Night: A Folktale of Calabar, Nigeria

Calabar Nigeria - Folkli
Pinpoint Location: Calabar, Cross River State / Map data ©2019 Google

This folktale from Calabar tells the tale of Emiong, who played a deadly trick on a friend and paid the price for his mischief. 

A bush rat called Oyot always ate together with Emiong, a bat. But the bat was secretly jealous of the bush rat. When Emiong cooked the food it was always very good, and Oyot soon asked how his friend made the soup so tasty.

“I boil myself in the water, and my flesh is so sweet that the soup is good.”

Emiong then told Oyot that he would show him how it was done; so he got a pot of warm water, which he told the bush rat was boiling water, and jumped into it, and very shortly afterwards came out again. When the soup was brought it was as strong and good as usual, as the bat had prepared it beforehand.

The bush rat went home and told his wife that he was going to make soup using the bat’s secret recipe. He told her to boil some water, which she did. Then, when his wife was not looking, he jumped into the pot, and was very soon dead.

When his wife looked into the pot and saw the dead body of her husband boiling she was very angry, and reported the matter to the king, who gave orders that the bat should be made a prisoner. Everyone turned out to catch the bat, but he flew away into the bush and hid himself. All day long people tried to catch him, so he had to change his habits, and only came out to feed when it was dark.

And that is why you never see a bat in the daytime.

If you enjoyed reading this folktale from Calabar, then please consider keeping it alive by sharing it with your friends. You can find many more Nigerian folktales or Efik folktales by visiting our dedicated collections. 


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