Legend of the Okpella People (another storytime).
My mother’s people have a story that we tell as to why the Okpella Kingdom was never taken by slave traders. I’ll condense it.
Our symbol is the python, and has been since the Transatlantic Slave Trade for the following reason. The python is the “Mother of Okpella”, and you often find them twined in the cocoa trees during the rainy season (we have tons of cocoa, I’m still trying to convince my mom to tell the family to start a chocolate business and bring money into the tribe and stuff…I digress).
During the time slavery was still a heavy trade, and at this time Europeans were just foregoing negotiating for slaves and actively taking our folks, the neighboring tribe/nation sold us out. Okpella is nestled in a very lush valley, and it’s notoriously hard to get to (we have roads in some places, now, but my mother’s compound has to be reached by foot, as does the Old Palace). So after being sold out, someone gave warning, and the Okpella people packed up and vacated to the mountain caves, which are hidden by waterfalls.
When the Europeans got to the village, they found it deserted, and ventured into the mountains to search for them, suspecting a ploy. Of course, having not been accustomed to the wildlife of Africa, when they saw the pythons coiled in the trees by the caves, they abandoned their search, citing all kinds of wild tales. Of course, there’s probably more to this story, but the fact is, our people forever respect the python for this protection.
As for the snitches next door? We eventually reconciled around 1990 or so, and the royal family on our side (Afegbua…my mother’s family) exchanged our royal dance with the royal family from their side. I don’t know what that dance was, but the one we exchanged it for is called Ishimuvu, which is Okpella for “Dance of the Big Behind”. Or it is called Ishimavunuku which means “Dance of the Big Skirt” because the ladies wear these huge skirts with bells on them (for my Native friends, it’s similar to a jingle dress), and they carry a mirror and a fan. I love this dance, actually. The children of the village (myself included), just call it by the sound the drums make…which I can’t even write.
So that’s another story I picked up from my childhood. I love this story because it kind of justifies my adoration of serpents…and my choosing Slytherin as my house. :P