Why the Ant Lives Underground

Why the Ant Lives Underground – a story of courage and valour. Lessons we learnt from our ancestors.

Ant and earthworm

Why the Ant Lives Underground

Once upon a time, in Southern Nigeria, the animals lived in unity with each other. They would have meetings every once in a while to catch up with each other. These meetings were very popular; every animal constantly looked forward to them because they had lots to eat and drink. Apart from that, the animals got to make new friends and interact with their old friends who they must have lost contact with over the years. So it was also an event to look forward to.

The host for the meetings was usually Eyo. Eyo was a powerful king who once ruled over men and animals long ago. The King was greatly loved by all and sundry, because of this opportunity he provided them. He even made humans keep good relationships with animals, and they didn’t, for once, try to kill each other. It was a peaceful time, and everyone owed it to King Eyo.

So, one day, he threw the same get-together, and this time, the animals arrived before human beings did. It didn’t stop the show from starting. The animals ate and drank to their fill, along the way, the humans joined them. The humans also got their fair share of food and drinks. 

Soon enough, everyone was drunk and highly intoxicated. This was always the product of such meetings, and the King patiently waited for it every year because he believed that when people were drunk, they would say exactly what was in their minds without holding anything back.

King Eyo sat on his throne and waited till one of his servants came to his side.

“Yes?” He asked the servant that came.

“The people are drunk, my king,” the servant said, and this information filled the King with so much joy that he stood up.

“Well then, it’s time to allow them to make a speech,” he said with a smirk and went down to meet them.

“My people,” the King began as he approached them. Everywhere was quiet as they paid attention to the King. “I hope you are all having fun?” The King said in a loud voice.

“Yes, we are!” The animals and humans cheered.

“Good. That’s very good. Now, as the tradition over here. A speech has to be presented. So who will do us the honour of giving us a speech today?” He asked the question and looked around only to notice the animals and humans murmuring.

“My people, my people. We won’t be able to get anything done by murmurs. So if someone has something to say, he or she should identify, and we will give him or her the floor.” The King was very excited to hear what the people had to say. He was positive that he would get lots of good information from them before the day ran out. Before he could say anything else, the ant raised his hands and signified that he wanted to give a speech.

“Well, well, well, I guess we have a representative for today. Well, Mr. Ant, do come up.”

As the ant went up, he was cheered by other animals. Soon, he reached the stage and said in his loudest voice because he knew that most people will not be able to see him.

“My King, I thank you for this meeting. I am full. I also want to thank everyone that came out today. Now, I just have to say that my people are the strongest animal in this entire kingdom. My King, I bet you that no one, not even the Elephant, can stand before us. Do you want to know why? It’s because we have what humans like to call “power in unity”. My King, anyone who comes before us, will be crushed, especially the worms. They are poor wriggling things, who will not survive for ten minutes in a battle with us,” the ant said.

Even though most of the things the ant said were correct, the people were very angry because his tone was pure pride, and this annoyed everyone, especially the worms, who the ant insulted.

“How can you prove that?” The head worm stood up and said in his loudest voice. All the ant could do was laugh, and then he said.

“Do you want me to prove it?! Really?!”

“Yes, I do,” the worm stood his ground.

“Well, there is only one way to prove something like this, and I think you know what it is.”

“Okay, fine. If it is a battle you want, a battle you will get!” The worm shouted and left the party in anger to go and gather his people. The King was particularly excited over this battle, so he mounted the stage and said.

“Tomorrow, by noon, the ants and the worms will fight each other. To the death!” He finished his speech, and the entire people screamed in unison.

The ant went home and started gathering his army. He made sure that he recruited enough soldier ants. The worm did the same thing. Before the kingdom knew what was happening, it was noon the next day, and they had to fight.

The whole kingdom was covered with a moving mass of ants and a bunch of struggling worms. The ants marched in a line about one inch broad and densely packed. It was like a dark-brown band moving over the country. They were arranged in the order of scouts, advance guards, flankers, and then, the main body.

The fight started and was over within a few minutes because the worms stood no chance against the sharp pincer-like mouths of the driver ants. The few worms that managed to escape the battleground dug into the ground and hid there. They completely disappeared out of sight.

King Eyo came up after that, and when he couldn’t see any worms, he declared the ant winner of the battle. Up until today, the worms are still hiding under the earth, and whenever they see a human being, they hide under the soil because they are scared of everything.

Moral Lesson

  • Never bite more than you can chew. 
  • You don’t have to go to battle to prove you matter too.
  • Know who is stronger than you. Don’t challenge those more powerful than you are unless you have an escape.

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