Once, a man went hunting in the forest, and managed to catch a most wonderful bird. Not only did the bird sing with a human voice, it also …err, defecated cowrie shells (which was used as money in those days).
Of course, the man kept his precious bird in a small cage in the corner of his house. By using the money he got from the bird, he bought and sold many things and soon became very rich.
Now, this man had an only son and no wife. One day, he left for the big market for some days, giving his son instructions to not let the bird out of its cage, for any reason whatsoever.
But the young boy was quite lonely at home, since his father refused to let any relatives or servants stay with them, fearing that his secret of “making” money would be discovered. And so each day, the boy would speak with the bird. Soon they became friends.
Eventually, the bird convinced the boy to open up the cage so he could exercise his wings. Once he did however, the wonderful bird flew far away without looking back.
The child was heartbroken. Not only had he lost his companion, but his father would punish him severely for losing his money source! In the end, the boy did his best to find a similar looking, but rather stupid bird.
When his father returned, he went straight to the cage, and found that his bird no longer sang as before. Also, the bird poop was “genuine” this time, not the money he was expecting.
The child knew he would be punished, and so he was. But he never expected his father to cut off his right ear. A fitting punishment, the boy was told, for the sin of not obeying his father. So the boy became the one eared boy.
Time passed, the son grew up and the man grew old.
One day the son said to the father, “Come, let us pluck coconuts by the riverside.”
The father agreed, and the two went to the sea side.
“Father,” the son said, “why don’t you climb the coconut trees and pluck the fruits we want?” So the father did.
Once the older man was firmly atop the tree, the son put down three baskets.
“See, father, you must throw the coconuts right into the baskets,” the son said. “Any fruits that fall on the ground or elsewhere, you must go and take them where they fell.”
So the father removed each coconut and threw it in whatever basket he could reach. Unfortunately, in spite of his efforts, three coconuts rolled into the water, where they promptly disappeared.
The son remained deaf to his father’s pleas to ignore the coconuts, and insisted the old man go into the deep waters to find the fruits.
And so the old man sang as he walked into the shallows:
Ozooo, hu so’okuse ka menehu
(Child, you make me drink river water)
okuse, okuse, ka menehu
(deep water, river water,)
Okuse, ka’o kamenehu
(You say I should drink riverwater..)
And the son responded:
Ind’ ooo, hum’ inomi jo’ moto
(Father, because of a bird you cut my ear)
inomi nu ku jo’ moto
(for a bird, you took my ear)
With tears, pleading and song, the old man walked into the waters and drowned.