Why the Sky is So High

In Yoruba culture, it basically goes that one day, this woman was making stew, and the sky used to be very low, and after she’d take a break from making the stew she’d wipe her hands on the sky, and the sky said “Please don’t wipe your hands on me, because it makes me dirty and I really just like my blue colors”. And so the sky rose up a little higher in the sky. And so, then the woman the next day was cooking again, this grain meal that’s called Sowalo and it’s a heavy meal, with stew, that you eat, and it’s very common and so, she’s cooking it again and her hands are dirty, and so she wants to go wipe her hands on the sky again, but she has to get a step stool this time. And she goes up and she wipes her hands on the sky and the sky gets angry again and moves up a little higher. Then the next day, the woman is also cooking the stew. I think there was a wedding going on or something, and she’s cooking Amalo stew for like, multiple days. So she goes and she takes out a ladder, and she wipes her hands on the sky, and the sky gets so angry and it says “You will never have the ability to go near the sky again”. And it moved all the way up to where the sky is now.

Context: The informant is both the grandmother of a and a Nigerian student who goes to USC. She lived in Saint Louis for the majority of her life, but her family is Yoruba and they live in Ogbomosho, Nigeria, where they hold prominent social and economic status. Her grandmother is here in Saint Louis.