Lightning and Thunder

General / 19 June 2020

In the olden days the thunder and lightning lived on the earth amongst all the other people. The thunder was a sheep, and the lightning, her son, was a ram. Lightning and Thunder lived in the village and worked for the people there. With their immense power, they helped the people achieve much. But the village took Lightning and Thunder for granted. Lightning the ram had a terrible temper, and whenever he got upset, he would dash about the village. Everywhere he ran houses would burn and trees would get knocked down; he even did damage on the farms, and sometimes killed people.

Whenever Lightning did these things, his mother used to call out to him in a very loud voice to stop, to accept that this is how people have always behaved and not to do any more damage; but when Lightning is in a bad temper he might as well be deaf. At last the people could not stand it any longer, and complained to the king. So the king made a special order that Thunder the sheep, and Lightning the ram, should leave the town and live in the forest. This did not do much good. The animals in the forest felt it was their turn to use the power of Lightning and Thunder. They treated them the same way they had seen the people of the village treat them. When the ram got angry, he burnt the forest , destroying the homes of the animals living in it, and the flames spread to the farms and consumed them.

So the people and the forest animals complained bitterly, until the king decided to kill Lightning. In the dead of the night, the king’s servants went into the forest and captured Lightning. When they killed him, all the servants were burnt to ashes. Lightning’s spirit shot straight up into the sky to live with the gods. Kamalu had taken a liking to the feisty white ram and took him in. When Thunder woke up and she could not find her son, she began to call for him in a very loud voice. And when he did not return after a long time, she began to cry bitterly. As she cried the clouds cried with her.

For many days it rained and Thunder’s cries grew louder and more terrible until the people could not bear it anymore. They did not want to go to the King this time, because they feared things would get even worse. So they went to the Dibia. The Dibia decided that it would be best to offer Thunder to Kamalu, so that she would be together with her son. And so, the Dibia went into the bush, captured Thunder, and sacrificed her.

Ever since then, Lightning and Thunder became servants of Kamalu. Kamalu treats them kindly, sometimes he would send both of them on errands, and other times only Lightning will go.

Reference: Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria

Author: Elphinstone Dayrell

Published: 1910

Publisher:Longmans, Green and Co., London, New York, Bombay & Calcutta


Retold and illustrated by Olusayo Ajetunmobi