c. 1965 | Nigeria

Waste Not, Want Not

The cosmic consequences of overeating.

In the beginning, the sky was very close to the earth. In those days men did not have to till the ground because whenever they felt hungry they simply cut off a piece of the sky and ate it. But the sky grew angry, because often they cut off more than they could eat and threw the leftovers on the rubbish heap. The sky did not want to be thrown on the rubbish heap, and so he warned men that if they were not more careful in future he would move far away.

For a while everyone paid attention to his warning. But one day a greedy woman cut off an enormous piece of the sky. She ate as much as she could, but was unable to finish it. Frightened, she called her husband, but he too could not finish it. They called the entire village to help, but they could not finish it. In the end they had to throw the remainder on the rubbish heap. Then the sky became very angry indeed and rose up high above the earth, far beyond the reach of men. And from then on men have had to work for their living.

©1966 by Ulli Beier and Heinemann Educational Books Ltd. Used with permission of Heinemann Educactional Books, Ltd.

About This Text

From an Edo story. The Edo people live in southern Nigeria, their total population estimated at around 3.8 million. They primarily live in compact village settlements, subsisting on yams, corn, cassava, and other vegetables. Many Edo are now either Christian or Muslim, but their traditional religion professes a belief in a remote creator, various lesser gods, and spirits of the dead.