Why Women Have Long Hair

"If that is what we must do!"

Why Women Have Long Hair
This is a Nigerian Folktale.

Once upon a time, there lived two women, Nnenna and Adaeze, who always quarreled about everything. They quarreled when the rain didn’t fall, they quarreled when the rain did fall.

One day, Nnenna decided to start throwing parties in her hut. She would invite everyone from the village, from big to small, from rich to poor. The only person who would never get an invite was Adaeze.

Adaeze got so upset one day when yet another invitation came for the entire community, and her name was once again missing. She said to herself, “If I cannot go for this party, then nobody will.”

So, when the moon was still out, Adaeze took a shovel and snuck out to the path leading from Nnenna’s hut to the village well. “Let us see how anybody will come to her party now,” she said as she dug a pit in the path.

Early in the morning, just as the sun had begun to open its eyes, Nnenna woke up. Excited to begin making preparations for the party, she took up her fattest calabash and begun making her way to the village well. Whistling and skipping as she walked, she did not notice the gaping hole before her as the sun had not yet opened its eyes to this part of town. She fell inside the pit.

Nnenna cried loudly. “Help me, help me. I have fallen in a pit and can’t get out.”

Five women already on their way to the village well heard Nnenna’s cries and came running to her aid. Seizing her by the hair, they begun pulling her out of the pit. To their surprise, Nnenna’s hair stretched as they pulled. It stretched so much so that by the time she was out of the pit, her hair was as long as a man’s right arm.

“What kind of thing is this? Your hair is completely ruined,” the women said.

Ashamed, Nnenna ran back to her hut and locked the door swearing to never throw a party again.

But the invitations were already out and when the sun had begun to rest once more, the village people came knocking on her door.

“Return to your homes for I am ugly,” Nnenna cried, but the townspeople had come from so far and wide that they saw no reason in returning home so soon.

“We’re sure you are not ugly. Please open the door so we can come in and celebrate,” said one of the townspeople.

So, still ashamed and very unsure, Nnenna opened the door anyway. The townspeople gasped.

“You are so beautiful,” the men said. “We have men’s hair,” the women said.

Dying to know her secret, Nnenna explained how she fell into a pit and had to be dragged out by her hair. The other women said amongst themselves, “If that is what we must do to have long hair, then that is what we will do.”

And so one by one, the women jumped into the pit and their friends pulled them out by the hair.

And so it happened that in this way, they, and all the women who came after them, had vibrant long hair.

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fact or fiction
Jide Okonjo
Jide Okonjo
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Jide Okonjo

Nigerian boy telling ridiculous, crazy, true, funny, insane stories about Nigeria and the world at large. If Vocal is the voice for all people, then consider me a voice for Nigeria.

See all posts by Jide Okonjo