73. The Tortoise and His Children

Tortoise gathered his children and told them, "Dear children, you must never steal and you must never lie."
"We hear you, Father," said Tortoise's children.
Then a famine came, and after three days with no food in the house, Tortoise went and stole some food. Then, when he brought the food home, he lied about it. "Look, children!" he said. "I found this food in the forest."
The children knew their father was lying.
"Father," said the children, "you told us we must never steal and we must never lie."
"Who is the teacher here?" asked Tortoise. "You or me?!"
[an Igbo story from Nigeria]

Inspired by: "Tortoise and His Children" in Anthropological report on the Ibo-speaking peoples of Nigeria, III by Northcote Whitridge Thomas, 1914.
Notes: You can read the original story online; the Ibo text also available, translated literally into English word by word. I added the part about Tortoise stealing from his own relatives and neighbors to give more of a sense of indignation, and greedy Tortoise does indeed steal from those close to him, even his own family sometimes.

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