One day Eshu heard that king Metolofi had come into possession of a goat with four eyes; two situated on top of it’s head and two others at the back. Presenting this beast to his people, the king proclaimed that this amazing goat would be able to watch all of the people all of the time. The goat would watch what everyone was doing, and if anyone disobeyed the king or broke the kings laws – the goat would immediately report the event back to the king. Thus, king Metolofi would become revered as the bringer of perfect justice to his realm.
Now Eshu became very indignant at this. He found it unacceptable that anyone should know all of his actions, all of the time – even the king! So, Eshu declared loudly that he would be able to act freely, without any fear of the goat reporting his actions. Eshu had a plan.
Eshu found the spirit Ifa, and made a sacrafice of a hat and four different colored pieces of cloth. Ifa proceeded to remodel the hat and make it into a head covering with four faces; each one a different color. Ifa then equipped Eshu with this head covering and sent him on his way.
Now, wearing the head covering, Eshu found the kings number one wife traveling on the road between the temple and the palace and assaulted her with rude and ribald comments; even throwing horse dung onto her dress. Many people had seen this exchange and were shocked that anyone would be so bold and foolish to assault the kings number one wife, and in public!
The goat saw the exchange and immediately reported it to the king, but could only say that the assailant was wearing a red head covering. The king then called together all of the people who had seen the deed and asked them to report on who had done this – but they each described a different colored head covering. Some said it was blue, others yellow, others white, and still others agreed with the goat that it had been red. No consensus could be reached.
The crowd began to argue heatedly with one another. Those that saw one color called the others liars and traitors. Some claimed the others were mad or had been in on the deed and were now trying to cover it up. The arguing became fighting and chaos erupted in the courtyard of the king.
The king then sent his minister to the people to calm them down, and to find out who was behind all of this trouble. While the minister was in the midst of the crowd, Eshu (again disguised in his four colored head covering) took the opportunity to strike down the minister in front of everyone – then slip out before he could be seized.
Again, the goat saw the deed and reported to the king that the minister had been slain, but this time by someone wearing a blue head covering. When the king ordered that the man wearing a blue head covering be brought forward – again the crowds began arguing and fighting bitterly with one another.
“The murderer was not wearing blue! It was red!” cried one observer.
“No you imbecile, it was neither blue nor read; it was yellow!” cried another. And so it went round and round with each believing his own eyes and disbelieving the report of his neighbor.
Finally, Eshu arrived without his disguise on, and called for the king to settle the matter. Surely with such a remarkable goat the solution would be trivial. But, the king could not and was humbled before his people. So he offered the goat up as a sacrifice to Eshu and hid his face away his angry people and regretted his previous boasting.
There was a famine in the land, and everyone longed for food. Each day Tortoise went into the forest to see if he could find anything to eat, but in the evenings he came home discouraged with only a few herbs and dried-up nut-kernels for his family.
One day, as he walked through a grove, he saw two trees close together a small stunted tree and a big tree with thick foliage and spreading branches. What sort of tree are you? he asked the little tree.
I am the Chop-tree, was the reply.
Well, Chop-tree, what can you produce? asked Tortoise. And at the words the little tree waved its branches and a shower of food fell to the ground. Tortoise ate until nothing remained, and then turned to the tall and handsome tree.
And what tree are you? he asked, thinking that such a splendid tree must produce rich fruit. The tree told him that its name was Whip-tree, to which Tortoise replied: Whip-tree, what can you produce?
At these words the Whip-tree bent its branches and beat Tortoise until he cried for mercy. When the beating ceased, Tortoise went home, but, being of a greedy nature, he said nothing of the two trees, and showed his wife only a few poor nuts which he had found.
After that he went every day to the Chop-tree and feasted to his hearts content. While his family and all the people, even to the King, became thin and meagre, Tortoise appeared daily fatter and more prosperous, until Nyanribo, his wife, began to suspect.
One day Nyanribo resolved to follow him into the forest, and great was her surprise when she saw her husband stand under the little tree and say: Tree, do your duty! The branches waved, and rich titbits fell to the ground.
Nyanribo cried out in astonishment and reproached her husband for his greediness. She hastened back to the town and returned with the whole family of children and cousins. She stood under the Chop-tree and said: Tree, do your duty! When the food fell down, they all partook of the feast.
But spiteful Tortoise was displeased, and exclaimed:
I wish you would stand under the other tree and receive your proper reward!â€
Hearing this, they all went to stand under the Whip-tree, and Nyanribo again cried: Tree, do your duty! Alas! The branches began to beat them all soundly until they died.
Tortoise was alarmed at this and hastily returned to his house, but the neighbours soon noticed that his wife and family were absent, and the King ordered Tortoise to account for their disappearance.
Tortoise therefore led the King and all the nobles and the people into the forest, and when they were gathered under the Chop-tree he cried out: Tree, do your duty! and, as before, a feast appeared, which the hungry people soon devoured.
Tortoise then asked them to stand underneath the othet tree, and this they were eager to do. The King himself was the one to cry out: Tree, do your duty! and the branches began to beat all those who stood below until they cried out with pain.
In a great rage the people hunted for Tortoise, desiring to kill him; but he hid inside his shell, in a secret place, and they could not harm him.
He stayed in concealment until the King died and a new King was found, and then he thought it safe to appear in the town. But whenever he hears the two words Chop and Whip, he hides in his shell, thinking himself in danger.
King Chango was acquainted with many deadly charms, and he once happened to discover a preparation by which he could attract lightning.
He foolishly decided to try the effect of the charm first of all on his own palace, which was at the foot of a hill.
Ascending the hill with his courtiers, the King employed the charm: a storm suddenly arose, the palace was struck by lightning and burnt to the ground, together with Chango’s whole family.
Overcome with grief at having lost his possessions, and above all his sons, the impetuous King resolved to retire to a corner of his kingdom and to rule no more. Some of his courtiers agreed with him, and others tried to dissuade him from the plan; but Chango in his rage executed a hundred and sixty of them—eighty who had disagreed with him, and eighty who had agreed too eagerly!
Then, accompanied by a few friends, he left the place and started on his long journey. One by one his friends deserted him on the way, until he was left alone, and in despair he decided to put an end to his life, which he rashly did.
When they heard of the deed, his people came to the spot and gave him an honourable funeral, and he was ever afterwards worshipped as the god of thunder and lightning. So, among all the Yorubas, when people see the flash of lightning followed by the sullen roar of thunder, they remember Chango’s rage after the destruction of his palace, and exclaim: Kabo Kabiosile “Long live the King!”