Fulbe Stories Of Cattle
The fulbe stories of cattle are three mythical stories based on the origination of cattle, and the first people to own them. The first story is about a man (Ilo), who was said to have broken his brother Tyamaba‘s (a snake) prohibition. Tyamaba had to leave, but before he left, he asked Ilo to cut a “nelbe” stick and choose from his cattle, so that he could rare them; while the rest followed him into the water. The second story was about two sons and their mother who were rejected by their father because they were illegitimate. Their father asked them to go to the river, and they would meet their father and their mother’s lover. When they got there, a man rose out of the water and told the two sons he had a gift for them and he gave them herds of cattle from the water. The third story is one about a cow and her calf that were trapped by a woodworker, a fulbe, and a bambado. The fulbe saw he was the only one taking care of the cattle so he ran away with it and took care of it. Later on when the woodworker and the bambado found him, they gave him their share of ownership to the cattle in return for individual favors. The fulbe agreed, and ended up taking care of the cattle and understanding it till this day.
The fulbe (commonly known as the Fulani) are a nomadic tribe from the savannah zones across West Africa. They travel from place to place in search of food and water for their herds of cattle. In these different myths or stories, they talk about how they got their cattle and where they came from. It can be seen in all these stories that they believe their cattle came from the water. Maybe there is a particular message or reason as to why they think so, but scientifically we know that cattle can’t swim, let alone live in water.
This myth reminds me of the myth about the Tiv people of central Nigeria. They believe that a white and black water sake saved the family that started this tribe from death. Today the traditional...