Why the Flies Bother the Cows: 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 the cow, who was a less than gracious host to the fly.

When Adiaha Umo was Queen of Calabar, being very rich and hospitable, she used to give big feasts for all the domestic animals, but never invited the wild beasts, whom she feared.

At one feast she gave there were three large tables, and she invited the cow, as the biggest animal, to sit at the head of the table and share out the food. But at the first course the cow overlooked the, because he was so small. The fly called out to the cow to give him his share, but the cow told him to be quiet and to have patience.

When the second course arrived, the fly again called out to the cow, but the cow merely pointed to her eye, and told the fly to look there, and he would get food later. But after all the dishes were finished, the fly had still received no food, and went supperless to bed.

The next day the fly complained to the queen, who decided that , as the cow had presided at the feast, and had not given the fly his share, but had instead pointed to her eye, the fly could always get his food from the cow’s eyes; and to this day, wherever the cows are, the flies can always be seen feeding at their eyes in accordance with the queen’s orders.

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