Nigerian Snake Legend


Stanley Kalu was raised in Nigeria. Since then, he and his family have lived in various African countries. He currently studies screenwriting at the University of Southern California. He is a friend of mine, and he has often told me stories about growing up in Nigeria. I asked him for folklore, and without even needing to ask for Nigerian folklore, he offered up several pieces, including two proverbs. When I asked why he gave me two proverbs, he said that his mother often said them to him, and that mothers and their proverbs are so infamous that there are meme websites dedicated to them that he visits when he feels homesick.


Stanley: Some traditional Nigerian folklore.

Owen: What’s your name?

Stanley: Stanley Kalu. So in my younger and more vulnerable years, my mama would tell me a story and it was about another mother who kept her daughter inside the house at all times because she was so scared that her daughter would get hurt going out into the real world. And one day she left the house and a snake came in and ate her daughter. And this is a lesson in you can’t protect your kids from everything. Stanley’s Mom, she’s a G, lots of love, Mom.


This folk legend of the snake is a similar to many stories that tell of the dangers of the world. Stories like La Llorona encourage children to stay inside because they could get hurt or kidnapped or killed in the world. This story also speaks to the dangers of the world, but takes a different tone when it’s moral is that you cannot protect your kids from everything.