An extract from “The Wicked Curse of Nibobobo” from “Tales My Ghanaian Grandmother Told Me” by Dzagbe Cudjoe


The Wicked Curse Of Nibobobo
The story I am going to tell you took place a long, long, long time ago-so long ago that no one remembers exactly-when. It all happened in a tiny village hidden away in a country somewhere in West Africa. The houses in the village were rectangular in shape and made out of the surrounding red earth. They had plain thatch roofs and were built around a central courtyard. Whole families of grandmothers, grandfathers, fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and cousins all lived in huts close to one another. The courtyard was an important meeting place where people gathered to talk. The women cooked and the children played. Life was good for the villagers. They had water, food, work, leisure and their dances. These were all very necessary ingredients for a happy, healthy and peaceful life. But there were always people who were jealous and did not want others to be happy
and carefree.
Now this story really began one night during the dry season. At that time of year there was less farm work to do. So, as people were not so busy, they held special dances. It was the custom for young men to ask the parents of the girl they loved for permission to marry him. On this particular occasion, the sky was like velvet, the moon was smiling, and the stars twinkled and chuckled with delight as they watched the celebrations in the village below. Although the dancers did not know it, they were also being watched with appre¬ciation by the trees and plants around them. The drums, the gongs, and the rattles were playing and the villagers clapped their hands in accompaniment to the rhythms. They all gave themselves over to the pleasures of the dance. The young men moved their feet so that they touched the ground faster and faster. Their bodies, faces, and colorful costumes were all part of the dance.
At the height of the dance, a young man of noble-bearing and character slipped away from the dancing ground. His name was Fetu. He was deeply in love with a young girl called Niniana. She possessed great beauty of spirit. She returned Fetu’s love and they, would have made a very happy couple. Fetu was on his way to ask Niniana’s father for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Now begins the sad part of the story. Back then, only the very oldest people in the village knew that a long time ago, Fetu’s father had asked to marry Nibobobo, Niniana’s mother. She had rejected him despite pressure from her parents. Nibobobo, even then, was a very wicked woman and she was frightened that Fetu’s father, who was a good man, would learn her true nature. Fetu did not know any of this when he told his father of his plans regarding Niniana. To his great astonishment, his father forbade him to ask permis¬sion of Niniana’s family. Poor Fetu did not know that his father was behaving in this way to take his revenge on Nibobobo for the insult of long ago.
Fetu though was a young man with a mind of his own. This was why he had slipped away from the dance and was walking in the direction of the house where Niniana lived. He was warmly welcomed by Niniana’s family and they were happy that Niniana wanted
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Dzagbe Cudjoe
to marry such an upstanding young’ man. Furious at this turn of events, Fetu’s father threatened to send him into exile away from the family if he persisted with his marriage plans. Fetu knew, that it was impossible to survive in the forest without being a member of a family, and part of a village. So with a heavy heart, he gave up his plans.
Nibobobo was aware of the reason why Fetu’s father had forbidden the marriage to her daughter, Niniana. Although no one dared to openly say so, Nibobobo had a bad reputation. It was correctly assumed that she was a witch. Her rage knew no bounds. She wanted the whole village to suffer for the insult she had received. Her anger made her even more wicked, malicious and evil. Wearing a dirty, old, torn cloth and with her grey hair unbraided, she sneaked off to a special clearing in the forest. She stood there in her red-hot fury and humiliation, her eyes reduced to slits, and her teeth bared. Nibobobo slowly lifted her arms into the air as if she was lifting a heavy weight. Her fingers clenched like claws. Her head fell backwards so that she looked at the sky through bloodshot eyes. Then, she
committed the most atrocious act.
“By the power at my command,” she shrieked, “1 curse the palm trees. Let them all turn brown, shrivel and die! Oh yes, everyone shall know my power,” she cackled.
She had done a dreadful thing. The palm trees provided food, alcoholic beverages, oil, thatching for houses, brooms, timber, and much more besides. They were probably the most important trees in West Africa.
To the villager’s horror and amazement, within three hours, all of the palm trees were dead with their dried-out fronds hanging limply from their crowns. The villagers were in deep despair. The situation seemed hopeless.
Then Ade, the chief’s son, asked his father “Can we not travel to the home of the Great¬
Spirit-Who-Created-AlI-That-ls-On-This-Earth, and ask the Spirit to bring the palm trees back to life?”
To be quite truthful none of the elders of the village had thought of this. They were people with experience of life and it just did not seem possible to them.
Ade’s idea spread through the village like wildfire. But who was willing to go on this perilous journey into the unknown? The other villagers were reluctant and all said that they had very important and urgent things to attend to.
So Ade announced in a ringing tone of voice, “1 will go on this journey to the Great Spirit, but 1 cannot go alone. Who is courageous enough to come with me?” At this, Fetu and Niniana both stepped forward, “We are the innocent cause of this catastrophe,” they both said, “and we will go with you.”
The whole village was very proud of Ade, Fetu, and Niniana and admired their courage. The villagers knew that in the past, people journeyed backwards and forwards with ease to visit the Great-Spirit-Who-Created-All-That-ls-On-This-Earth. Now though, things were different. This was because the way people behaved had not pleased the Great-Spirit. The Spirit had decided that humankind would have to struggle to reach him and to get to know him personally. Soft Cover & E book versions  Now available through


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