The ‘Nsasak Bird and the Odudu Bird

The ‘Nsasak Bird and the Odudu Bird – a story about how to apply wits…

'Nsasak and Odudu bird

The ‘Nsasak Bird and the Odudu Bird

Once upon a time, when King Adam was the King of Calabar, he wanted to know which bird could stay the longest without eating anything. His goal in doing this was to select a bird as the chief of all the birds, but he needed one with a resilient spirit who could endure hunger.

Every bird wanted this position. It was, after all, a very juicy one, but the birds had to be honest with themselves. Therefore, the different birds told themselves the truth; they could not do it. The only two birds that said they would go out for this test were the ‘Nsasak bird and the Odudu bird.

The ‘Nsasak bird is very small; it has a shining breast of green and red; it also has blue and yellow feathers and red around the neck. Its chief food consists of ripe palm nuts.

The Odudu bird, on the other hand, is much larger; it is about the size of a magpie, with plenty of feathers but has a very thin body. He has a long tail, and his colouring is black and brown with a cream-coloured breast. The odudu bird lives chiefly on grasshoppers and is also very fond of crickets, which make a noise at night.

These two birds went to the King and said,

“Our king, we heard of the challenge that you put forth, and we would love to try it,” they said in unison.

“I am sure, my king, that I will be able to survive for months without eating,” the ‘Nsasak bird added. 

The King was truly pleased by their bravery, so he told them what is expected.

“This is what you will do,” the King started. “You will each build a house where you will stay for one week without eating. After you complete this house, I will come to inspect it. When I am satisfied that everything is okay with the house and that the house has no window where you can fly away, I will tell my guards to fasten the door with a strong bolt, and after one week, we will open the door. Whichever one of you that is still alive by the end of the one week will be declared the winner,” the King finished talking. 

The two birds looked excited, and they bowed to the King. Immediately after that, they left to build their house.

Soon the two birds were through with building the house, but the ‘Nsasak bird being very cunny and small in size, added a very small window and placed it in such a way that no one but him could see the window. After they were done, the two birds called their King to inspect the house. 

The King checked for any windows or way out in both houses but didn’t see anything outside his stipulations. He was satisfied with the houses. So he went outside, and his guards fastened the door with a strong bolt, thereby preventing the birds from leaving their houses.

The ‘Nsasak bird stayed in his house till early in the morning when he was sure that people would start going out, and then he carefully opened his window and flew out. All day he spent enjoying himself and eating all kinds of things. But the ‘Nsasak bird ensured that no one, not even the farmers, saw him. When he noticed that it was getting late, he returned to his house in the evening without being seen by anyone.

Every time the ‘Nsasak bird came back home, he would call out to the Odudu bird.

“My dear Odudu bird, how are you fairing?” The ‘Nsasak bird would ask.

“I am slowly losing my strength and will,” the Odudu bird would respond.

“Well, I think you should try and find it because I am feeling very strong. In fact, I think I can continue for more than one week,” the ‘Nsasak bird would boost.

Every morning the ‘Nsasak bird would go out, eat and enjoy himself to the fullest, and every evening he would return to his home and call on the Odudu bird. He noticed that the Odudu bird’s voice became weaker and weaker until one day, he didn’t hear his voice again; he knew that the bird was dead.

‘Nsasak bird felt bad for his friend but couldn’t report the matter to anyone because he was meant to stay indoors. Two more days after the death of the Odudu bird, the door was opened, and the ‘Nsasak bird flew out looking strong and healthy. When the King went to retrieve the Odudu bird, they found out that he was dead and that ants were even eating his body.

The King declared the ‘Nsasak bird the King of all little birds. Even now, in the Ibibio land, if any young boy should kill the ‘Nsasak bird, he is considered a very skilful person because it is extremely difficult to outwit the ‘Nsasak bird.

Moral Lesson

1. Sometimes, you have to work smart to achieve a goal. 

2. Don’t do things because your friends are doing same.

3. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Leverage your strength.

Vanacular to English

Odudu means strength in Ibibio

‘Nsasak means undefeatable

‘Nsasak bird – Red-necked Tanager

Odudu bird – Toco Toucan

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