Long long time ago in the land east of the turbulent meeting point of two great rivers, there lived a prince. He was a man of many parts, a skilled sportsman, an enthralling orator, and music maker. When he sang, warriors were brought to tears but above all things he loved knowledge. One day he said to his wife, “we will arise and go to a land, far far away from here that I may satisfy my thirst for knowledge.” And so they arose. As they journeyed, they sang;
Anyi a gawa (we are going), - aja mbene
Anyi a gawa, - aja mbene
Anyi lute n’ugwu (we got to the hill) – aja mnebe
Gbagolu gbada (went up and went down) –aja mbene
Agu n’asaa (seven forests) – aja mbene
Mmili n’asaa (seven rivers) –aja mbene
Anya n’iru (eyes in front) – aja mbene
Ije n’ukwu (voyage in our feet) –aja mbene, aja mbene, aja mbene
And so they journeyed until they came to a land, north of the turbulent meeting point of two great oceans. With craggy mountains, rolling hills and vast verdant plains, it was indeed beautiful. The people of the land were as diverse. Some of the men were giants others were so small they looked like children. Some were as slender as Ome-ji the yam tendrils while others were as rotund as Anyu the pumpkin. Some had skin as dark as the wings of Ugeneoma the bird while others were as fair as the feathers of Chekele the bird. They also spoke in many ways. Some spoke through the nose, others in clicks, yet others in a lilting song. It was indeed strange. The prince decided to sojourn there a while. “Surely” he thought to himself, “this land that is filled with all kinds of people must also be filled with all types of knowledge.”
And thus the prince started his search for knowledge in the strange land. As time passed his wife bore him beautiful children. As the children grew, his heart began to long for home but he could not return for he had yet to find the knowledge he sought. When the prince spoke to his children in their mother tongue, they answered in strange languages. This situation saddened him all the more.
One day his wife, his princess said to him, “it is said that if you ask the talking mirror it will show you people all around the world and you can talk with them. Perhaps we may see others who have gone ahead of us to distant lands in the pursuit of knowledge and seek advice from them.”
The talking mirror was in an inner room in their house. It was very beautiful with rows of tiny black seeds along one side of it. Its face shone once the seeds are touched. Strangely enough, a mouse lived with the mirror. This mouse had a long tail that was tied to the mirror. This mouse did not squeak like other mice rather it clicked.
The prince responded, “My princess, what you have said is good, let us seek out others like us through the beautiful mirror”.
So his wife went to seek help from the magic mirror. As she sought she sang;
Ugogbe malu mma (beautiful mirror) – awa nje
Ugogbe malu mma (beautiful mirror) – awanje
Biko ziko mu umunne m (please show me my brethren) - awanje
Umu nne mu pulu ije (my brethren that travelled) –awanje
Ndi putelu aka (those that travelled far away) - awanje
Ka m juo fa ajuju (let me ask them a question) - awanje
Ajuju di mu mkpa (a question important to me)- awanje, awanje, awanje
The mirror showed her their people living in different places all over the world, who had travelled far from home. They all seemed to be having a heated debate. As she listened to them speak, she realised that they were discussing the same problem, for which she had come to seek an answer. She turned away downcast.
“Why are you downcast my princess?” asked the prince, as his wife returned. When she narrated he experience to the prince, he was deeply troubled. Then said the prince, “since our brothers cannot help us, we must seek a solution from the Great God, who owns heaven and earth. If there is a solution anywhere, He alone knows. For all things come from Him, He is all knowing”. So they went to the Great God for a solution. He gave them a tiny seed. “Plant it” He said, “it will grow into a tree that will bear fruit. Take some of its fruit and give to your children, when they eat it they will love your mother tongue”. So they planted the seed and watered it diligently and it grew into a huge tree and bore fruit. Then they took some of the fruit and gave to their children and they began to love their mother tongue.
Then they said, “It will be wicked of us to keep this secret to ourselves. We must return to the talking mirror to tell our people all over the world about this tree and its fruit”. They went back to the talking mirror and as they went they sang;
Ugogbe malu mma (beautiful mirror) – awa nje
Ugogbe malu mma – awanje
Biko kpota umu nna (please bring kinsmen)-awanje
Umu nna pulu ije(kinsmen that travelled) –awanje
Ndi putelu aka (those who travelled far away) - awanje-awanje
Ka anyi zie fa ozi (let’s give them a message) - awanje
Ozi di anyi mkpa (an important message) - Awa nje, awanje, awanje
The mirror called their people in strange lands together, who had travelled to the ends of the earth, far from home. The prince and his princess said to them, “we have the solution you seek to the problem you have, the problem of getting your children to love and speak our mother tongue. There is a tree whose fruit made our children love our language; if you give this fruit to your children they will love our mother tongue also”.
As dry leaves, lifted by the warm air of the savannah, swirl around in the afternoon sun, their people in strange lands wondered across the horizon…
“Could it be Udala, the sweet and sour fruit with sticky inner flesh, whose tree stood in the village square of old, which falls for whom it desires?”
“Is it Ugili, the one which grows in the forests, whose seeds lend sweetness and viscosity to our soup pot?”
“Maybe it is Ukpaka, our oil bean seed whose pods split the dry air of the Ugulu (hammartan) season, with their explosions”
“Perchance it is Ukwa the rare breadfruit that falls at its right time”
They concluded “What one does not know is older than one, therefore young prince….Omeive-sili-ike…the one who does difficult things with ease, tell us’ they beckoned. ‘What is this fruit and where is the tree that we may take some of it for our children?’
The prince and his princess responded ‘Just ask the mirror to show you www.sayitinigbo.com... there you will find the fruit!’ So the congregations of kinsmen all over the world asked the talking mirror and it showed them the way to the tree which is www.sayitinigbo.com. There they saw the fruit. They took some of the fruit and gave to their children to eat. Their children ate the fruit and began to love their mother tongue. That is why children of Igbo people around the world today love to say it in Igbo!
Ehen, back to the present or should I say the future. Quite a story wasn’t it?
I like to think that many years from today, perhaps this
is how elders will tell the tale of Uche and Uzo Say it in Igbo to their
The 15th of September 2013, marks the 3rd anniversary of the Uche and Uzo Say it in Igbo series. Three years, 10 volumes and a total of 21 titles later (details on www.sayitinigbo.com), we are still scratching the surface of the job that needs to be done.
We appreciate everyone who has played a part in encouraging us.
To the mums and dads, aunties and uncles, grandparents and friends who bought it for the children in their lives we say Deje nu o!
To you our Umunna on facebook , who like, share, comment on our posts and send us heads up messages we say Dalunu rinne.
Above all we remain grateful to our Great Lord Jesus Christ who showed us the vision of the tree and its fruits and gave us the seed of an idea.
In : epic style