Afiong and the skull

Afiong and the Skull: Lessons from the Folktale

The Disobedient Daughter Who Married A Skull

Effiong Edem was a native of Cobham Town. He had a very beautiful daughter named Afiong.

All the young men in the town and from outside wanted to marry her because of her beauty. But she refused all offers of marriage in spite of repeated pleas from her parents.

She insisted she would only marry the best-looking man in the country, who would have to be handsome, young, strong, and capable of loving her properly.

Most of the men her parents wanted her to marry, although they were rich, were older and ugly men to her. So the girl continued to disobey her parents. This attitude grieved her parents so much.

There was a skull who lived in the spirit land and heard of the beauty of this Calabar virgin. And he thought he would like to possess her. So he went about amongst his friends and borrowed different parts of the body from them; all of the best.

From one he got a good head, another lent him his trunk, a third gave him strong arms, and a fourth lent him a fine pair of legs. He borrowed all the finest parts and things he could find in the spirit country.

And at last, he was complete and was a very perfect and fine young gentleman.

He then left the spirit land and went to Cobham market where he heard gossips about Afiong’s beauty and admired her very much.

About this time also, Afiong heard that a very fine man had been seen in the market who was better-looking than any of the natives of the town.

She hastened her steps to the market at once and immediately she saw the Skull in his borrowed beauty, she fell in love with him and invited him to her house.

The Skull was delighted and went home with her. And on his arrival, he was introduced by the girl to her parents and he immediately asked their consent to marry their daughter.

At first, they refused as they did not wish her to marry a stranger. But at last, they agreed due to Afiong’s endless plea. And thus, Afiong and the Skull got married.

He lived with Afiong for some days in her parents’ house and then said he wished to take his wife back to his country, which was far off. To this, Afiong readily agreed as he was such a fine man, but her parents tried to persuade her not to go.

However, being very headstrong, she made up her mind to go, and they started off together.

After they had been gone a few days the father consulted his VooDoo man, who by casting lots, discovered that his daughter’s husband belonged to the spirit land and that she would surely be killed.

The parents and the whole town mourned her as dead.

After walking for several days, Afiong and her husband the Skull crossed the border between the spirit land and the human country.

When they set foot in the spirit land, the first man came to the Skull and demanded for his legs.

Then another came to get his head, and the next his body, and so on. And before evening the skull was left by itself in all its natural ugliness.

At this, the girl was very frightened and wanted to return home. But the skull would not allow this and ordered her to go with him.

When they arrived at the skull’s house, they found his mother who was a very old woman quite incapable of doing any work except creep about.

Afiong tried her best to help her, cooked her food, and brought water and firewood for the old woman. The old creature was very grateful for the care and soon became quite fond of Afiong.

One day the old woman told Afiong that she was very sorry for her and pitied her. But all the people in the spirit land were cannibals and when they heard there was a human in their country, they prepared to come to the house, kill her, and then eat her.

The skull’s mother then hid Afiong to keep her safe. And because Afiong had looked after her so well, she promised she would send her back to her country as soon as possible, provided that Afiong promised to obey her parents in the future.

This Afiong readily consented to do. Then the old woman sent for the spider, who was a very clever hairdresser and made him dress Afiong’s hair in the latest fashion. She also presented her with anklets, bangles, clothes,  and other things on account of her kindness. She then called the winds to come and convey Afiong to her home.

At first, a violent tornado came with thunder, lightning and rain. But the Skull’s mother sent them away as unsuitable. The next wind that came was a gentle breeze so she told the breeze to carry Afiong to her parents’ house.

And the old woman said good-bye to her.  And soon after taking her out of the spirit land the breeze deposited Afiong outside her home and left.

When Afiong’s parents saw their daughter they were very glad as they had, for some months, given her up as lost. The father spread soft animals’ skins on the ground from where his daughter was standing all the way into the house.

Afiong then walked into the house and her father called a hurdle of the town to come to the house and celebrate. And all the young girls who belonged to Afiong’s company came and danced. The feasting and dancing went on for eight days and eight nights.

And when the rejoicing was over, the father reported what had happened to the head chief of the town. The chief then passed a law that parents should not allow their daughters to marry strangers who came from a far country.

Then the father told his daughter to marry a friend’s son. And she willingly consented, married, and lived with him for many years. They had many children and lived happily ever after.

In career

When you have a gift/talent know what you have and it’s worth and value. But don’t get carried away in the wrong path. Be humble and not head swollen. Afiong was carried away by the beauty that made her make a wrong choice of husband. Humility would have made her see through the Skull’s fakeness.

Don’t go for what everyone is going for just because it is the in-thing. Go try it because you like it.  All the young men in the town went after Afiong when they were other beautiful maidens were in town too.

Like the Skull borrowing parts, you don’t have to borrow ideas and all. Be original. Be real.

In business

Don’t deal strange businesses if it is too good to be true. The skull was better looking than others she knew. look at the offer and the returns if they are real enough.

Go for what you know. Do business with who you trust. You will know good businesses by reviews. Don’t borrow what you cannot pay back. And when you borrow, invest in the right business.

Create something of value and increase its value. The reason why Afiong’s value increased was that everybody was going for her. Get your own ‘Afiong’ and place value on it and it will attract people.

Have a board of advisors you listen to for counsel. If she had listened to the opinion of her parents she wouldn’t have gotten into trouble by getting married to the Skull.

Don’t borrow more than you can pay back. Most creditors are merciless. They will take everything back. The Skull borrowed parts that he had to return immediately he stepped back into the spirit country. In fact, they were already waiting for him to collect their loan without interest.

There are opportunities around you that you can start with. When you don’t succeed in one, you carry the lessons over to the next one you start. her marriage to the skull was a bad deal. She got another marriage deal when she returned home.

You will learn lessons from bad ventures.  Afiong learnt her lessons while in the spirit world to be good to people and also learn to listen to others who have her interest at heart.

In your organization

Organizations are about teamwork. Learn to collaborate and be open to the input of others. If Afiong had listened to her family and not gone all alone with the skull, they would have done a lot more together all the time she was not around.

Go to offer what you have than trying to fit into what you don’t have to offer. The skull borrowed parts to come to marry even though he knew he didn’t have and couldn’t keep what he borrowed.

Organizations should also be open to seeing what people bring than to insist on particular things and traits people lie about to enable them to get the job. When you become detailed about the qualifications you want, people come prepared just to portray those qualities. Afiong was too particular about looks than character. And that was her weakness the Skull exploited on her with.

When you start an organization, for the love of it and for the good or the world, you will get aid. Be bold in taking a step and mighty forces will come to your aid. Afiong’s kindness to the Skull’s mother gave her way with the old woman who aided her to where she longed to be – home.  She came to her aid by giving her a wind-ride home.

In life

Be beautiful and humble. Unlike Afiong who was beautiful but didn’t listen to her parents. Sometimes a word of advice could save you the headache and your life.

Don’t live beyond your means. Even if you borrow for your wedding, you will pay back even if you are divorced. Don’t be like the skull who had to go borrow everything to get married and didn’t have anything left after marriage.

Go for who you know and not some stranger. Truly not all that glitters is gold. The skull was too handsome to be real. But Afiong didn’t see that.

When you are too particular about something you want, people who don’t qualify will qualify themselves for that space and come for you even if they are a lie. Afiong wanted a handsome man, and a handsome man she got even though the real Skull was not.

It is not too late to turn back if you don’t want to go further before crossing the line. Afiong had a choice to turn back before they crossed into the spirit world but she didn’t. Know how far you are willing to go and what lines to cross.

Don’t borrow to spend (to impress). Borrow to invest. Because your creditors won’t care what you borrowed for. Get as much only as you can pay back. Don’t be like the Skull who was stripped of everything he borrowed.

Be bold kind and mighty forces will come to your aid. Love is bold and without fear. The Skull’s mother and the wind came to her aid. Love conquers all truly. Afiong was good to the Skull’s mother and she returned the favour. A genuine mother-in-law will back you when their child is wrong if you’ve got and shown true love.

What lessons have you learnt from the folktale of Afiong and the Skull? And how can you apply these lessons to your career, business, organization, and life?

Read also Lessons from Acrimony: The Movie

I can’t wait for us to be friends on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram on @iamneuroking. 

You can also leave comments in the space provided below.

#folktale #afiong #theSkull #disobedience #lifelessons

Latest posts by NeuroKing (see all)

2 responses

Leave a Reply

  1. The skull was empty, he was not alive, but dead. She chose to pursue appearances, but there was no life, no soul, no love. In fact, skull was incapable of love.

    Many people look good, and sound good, because they have perfected their mask. But it will always slip off at some point. Go slow, take your time, and watch for truth. Do not choose someone based on how it will make you look to have them.

    Many feel “if I am dating or married to this person (attractive, smart, lots of money etc) then others will think I am special…”

    Maybe, but is it worth it to go home to someone who is dead inside and will only bring you down? No. In the end, it will slowly destroy you.

    Choose your love based on how kind and generous they are to you and others. And how they kindly help you become the best version of yourself that you can be. That is the best choice.

    1. Wow. Thank you Anicke for this comment. You summed it all up in this reply to the piece. People often look more at the appearance than the content of character.