A very long time ago, while the world was young and animals walked on two feet, and spoke like men, there lived two friends. Ijapa, (the tortoise) and Igbin (the snail) They did almost everything together. Ate together, bought clothes together, they were as close as brothers could be. However, the friends were quite different. While Igbin was patient and easy-going, Ijapa was cunning and extremely greedy.

One day, while cooling off under a mango tree, they decided to embark on a joint enterprise, something to profit them one way or another. Each friend had saved a considerable amount of money so they pooled resources and thought of what to purchase. After much thought, they settled on purchasing “pakute” a locally crafted steel trap. So they went off to the evening market to buy one. Afterwards they went to the forest. Ijapa dug a shallow hole, close to a pond and secured the trap. Although Igbin wasn’t too comfortable with it’s position as it wasn’t far from the major road, Ijapa managed to allay his fears. Covering it properly with leaves, they made their way home.

The next day, with the first light of dawn, the two friends made their way to the trap. In it’s jaws it had a small grasscutter.

Previously they had agreed to share the catch day by day, in that today would be Ijapa‘s and tomorrow Igbin‘s and so on.
Having seen the trap’s tiny catch, Ijapa thought to himself, that there wasn’t enough meat on it, as such he’d give it to Igbin and claim the next catch. Of course it would be bigger. And then he told Igbin he wanted to confer on him the honor of first catch. Igbin gladly took it home.

The next day, the pakute caught a robust grasscutter. Igbin attempted to give it to Ijapa but the later refused, having convinced himself that the trap would yield a bigger catch. He told Igbin that since he was his very good friend, he was feeling quite generous and wanted him to leave with the day’s catch also.

Igbin after much pressure, accepted it and took it home. Ijapa went home too, waiting patiently for the next day. Early the next day, Ijapa was the first at the site of the trap. Caught struggling in it’s jaws was a medium sized antelope. Concluding that were there was one, there was bound to be another, he gave the antelope to Igbin again, telling him it was a gift for the times he had helped him in the past. Igbin quietly accepted it, and was on his way.

The next day, as both friends headed to the bush path, they saw a crowd gathered at the site of their trap. Surely pakute had made a great kill!
Running as fast as his stubby legs could carry him, Ijapa called out

“It’s mine! It’s mine. The catch in that trap belongs to me!”

Before he could say another word, a palace guard snatched him and threw him over his shoulder. Turned out that the big catch was the prince who had mistakenly stepped into the trap and gotten ensnared. The pakute had injured him so badly, he became crippled.

As retribution, the king enslaved Ijapa and he spent all the rest of his life cooking, scrubbing pans and being kicked around by the townspeople.

Igbin crawled up to him one day and told him. “Next time, my friend you would be content with what you have. A bird at hand is worth two in the bush!”


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