When I think of childhood, I think of dust. Of how the soil let me befriend it. Of how it let me eat of its dust when I had great cravings for nzu. Of how it provided me a sitting place: my grandfather’s feet. When I think of my grandfather’s feet, I think of stories. Stories that embody my existence. Stories that defined my path, stories that terrified, that made me cry, that made me clutch my pa’s feet, stories, that called me by name and said, “Adaeze, this is who you are.” Stories of ala Igbo.

One of such stories is the story of the Anunuebe. A tree around which mysteries revolve. A tree, whose appearance in one’s dreams meant danger, a tree, upon which no creature perches. A tree that stands alone and makes a forest. A tree that isn’t a tree, a  tree in whose bark and branches all our ancestors return to. 

A direct translation of the word Anunuebe is “birds don’t perch.” The iroko cannot stand beside it. The ijikara leaves bow before its leaves. To be Igbo and not tremble at the mention of Anunuebe is to scorn the very womb that formed you. To bite the fingers that fed you, to make yourself the little bird that overfed, and challenged its oracle to a fight. 

Of the many tales of Anunuebe, what stands out is that this tree is a monster. It kills every life that comes around it. Birds don’t fly across it, humans don’t go near it, trees don’t grow beside it, yet it is believed to grow at the dead of evil forests. 

The irony however, is that the leave of the Anunuebe is potent for all kinds of ailments. How then can one get a leave off this beast? The most powerful dibias are those who have taken the deadly journey in search of Anunuebe and have returned alive. 

While the world evolves and myths seem to be forgotten, the tales of Anunuebe remain the same. 

What stories did you hear about Anunuebe? Share with us at the comment section. 

Do you know any African folklore that should be featured? Send it to us through our submission page. 

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