Oral Literature: Why the Sun and Moon Live in the Sky

A long time ago the sun and the water both lived on the earth and were very friendly. The sun often paid a visit to the house where the water lived and they would sit talking together for many hours.

But the water never came to the sun’s house, and one day the sun asked his friend: “Why do you and your relations not come and visit me? My wife and I would be very pleased to welcome you into our compound.”

The water laughed. “I’m sorry not to have visited you before this – he said – but the fact is that your house is too small. Where I to come with all my people, I’m afraid we would drive you and your wife away.” “We are going to build a new compound soon -, replied the sun -. If it is big enough, will you come and visit us then?”

“It would have to be very large indeed for me to come – explained the water – as my people and I take up so much room I’m afraid we might damage your property.”

But the sun seemed so sad that his friend never visited him that the water said he would come when the new compound was ready, provided that it was a really big one. The sun and his wife the moon set to work, and with the help of their friends, they built a magnificent compound.

“Come and visit us now – begged the sun -. For we are sure that our compound is large enough to hold any number of visitors.”

The water was still doubtful, but the sun begged so hard that the water began to come in. Through the door into the compound he flowed, bringing with him hundreds of fish, some water-rats, and even a few water-snakes. When the water was knee-deep, he asked the sun: “Do you still want my people and me to come into your compound?” “Yes, – cried the foolish sun. Let them all come.”

So the water continued to flow into the compound and at last the sun and the moon had to climb on to the roof of their hut to keep dry. “Do you still want my people and me to come into your compound?” Asked the water again. The sun did not like to go back on his word, so he replied: “Yes. I told you I wanted them all. Let them all come.”

Soon the water reached the very top of the roof and the sun and the moon had to go up into the sky, where they have lived ever since. (ed. by K. Arnott – Folktale from Ibibio people – Southern Nigeria)

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