There are different versions of this story. However, I find this particular Igbo one very interesting.
A long time ago, a drought hit the animal kingdom. The animals were starved and looked very thin except the birds. The tortoise, noticing this, vouched to find out where they got their food.
The birds refused to disclose their secret to him, claiming he was very cunning. However, they agreed to tell him after the tortoise begged and promised not to play any tricks.
They told him of a feast held high up in the heavens for anyone who could make it up there. But woe unto the tortoise as he had no wings to fly.
But alas! An idea struck him! He asked each of the birds to lend him a feather to attach to his body. The gods were on his side. The birds agreed to his request.
The last requirement he needed to meet was to take a ceremonial name, one which he would be addressed by when he got to the heavens. He chose the name “Everyone of you", and they left for the feast.
On arrival, the host welcomed and led them to a banquet.
“This food is for every one of you,” said the host before leaving.
The tortoise stepped forward and reminded them that his ceremonial name was “Everyone of you" so the food belonged to him alone. Therefore he went ahead and ate all the food.
The birds were furious, and they all took back their feathers, leaving him with no wings.
The tortoise pleaded with one of the birds to take a message home to his wife to bring out the softest materials and put them out under the heavens so that he could land safely when he jumped down.
The bird agreed to take the message but changed it when he arrived to teach the tortoise a lesson. He instructed his wife to lay out all the hard materials.
The tortoise saw his wife bringing out materials and became assured that he would land safely. He leapt from the heavens and crashed into the hard materials, shattering his smooth shell into several pieces. It took the best healer in the land to put it back together.
Until this day, the tortoise and his offspring have a broken shell as a reminder of the cost of greed.
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