“I am the greatest warrior. I have fought with gods and beaten them. I have fought with giants and won. I am strong; I cannot lose in a battle. I am the greatest warrior ever,” said the confident warrior”.
In West African culture there are many brilliant methods that grandparents use to teach humility and success to young men and women. One of these methods is that of using mythical stories. One such mythical story is called the ancestral cream. This story is designed to guide people from West African cultures into reaching their full potential. You too will benefit from this story.
In a small village in Western Africa it was customary that when the king died his dead body must be rubbed with a specific cream. This cream can only be found deep inside the jungle. The journey to acquire the cream takes seven days. Whenever the occasion called for the cream, young men in the village were asked to go into the jungle to find the cream. The village elders will crown the young man that is able to return with the cream as the next king of the village.
Most young men who intentionally tried to acquire the cream for the sake of becoming king never return. Those who did return came back empty handed. So many young men lost their lives in search of the cream that parents began to refuse to let their sons go into the jungle to look for the cream when a king died. One day, when another king died, there were only two men the village who were willing to risk their lives to find the cream. The older of the two men was the great warrior. He felt as though he was great and deserved to be crowned the next king. The other is the giant warrior. His intention was to bring the ancestral cream home so that the dead king could have a proper burial.
After much consultation among the village elders the decision was made that the two warriors could be sent out to find the ancestral cream. Prior to their departure, and as part of their custom, the two warriors sought counsel and blessings from the village priest. The village priest advised both men to be very careful and to focus on finding and bringing home the ancestral cream and nothing else. After their blessings and counsel the two men set out on their separate ways to bring home the ancestral cream. They had exactly seven days in which to find and bring the cream home or else the king’s body would begin to decay.
What these two men did not know was that they were going to be tested throughout their journey. This test is to determine their worthiness to be crowned the next village king. Not long into their seven-day journey came the first test. The great warrior came across an old lady sitting under a tree. The lady asked him, “Sir, I am old and tired. Could you please help me get up so I can continue on my journey?” The great warrior replied, “No way, don’t you know I am in a race to find the ancestral cream first. I am going to be the next king. Don’t delay me, I must go now”.
The old lady pleaded with the great warrior and finally he agreed to help her. When the old lady couldn’t stand straight the great warrior became upset yelling, “You are so old you cannot even stand on your feet. I don’t have time to hold you up, get out of my way.” Off went the great warrior. Next on the scene was the giant warrior. The old lady asks him for the same help and he provided his assistance. Realizing that the old lady could not stand on her feet, he asked her, “You are old; you cannot stand on your feet. Can I help you get to your destination”? With a smile on her face the old lady thanked the giant warrior for offering to help her. When the two reached the ladies home she asked him “Where are you going my son?” The giant warrior replied, “I am looking for the ancestral cream to take to my village so that the king can have a proper burial” The old lady told the giant warrior, pointing to small path next to her home, “You see that path; I want you to take it, walk straight, focus and don’t let anyone deviate you from your course.” The giant warrior bowed before the old woman and thanked her.
By this time the great warrior was encountering his second test. He had come across the most beautiful woman any man’s eyes could behold. The woman told him, “No man has ever come here without spending the night with me”. The great warrior eyes gleamed at the suggestion. “Sure” replied the great warrior. “I will spend the night with you, for I have walked many days searching for the ancestral cream. I am going to be crowned the next king. I am tired from my long journey. I will spend the night with you” The next morning when he left, the giant warrior came across the same woman. The same invitation was extended to him, he replied, “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I would love to spend the night with you but I am looking for the ancestral cream. My village needs it so that the king can have a proper burial. I am so sorry I cannot spend the day with you but can you tell me how I may find the ancestral cream?” The beautiful woman answered, “Keep going on the path you have chosen and you will find what you are looking for”.
The third and final test neared for the two warriors. As the great warrior continued with his travel in the jungle, he noticed an old blind man more or less going in circles as if he were lost. The great warrior told the blind man, “Old man, why are you going in circles” The man replied, “I am blind, I think I have lost my way back home. Could you help me get home?” “Help you get home? Are you crazy old man? I have two more days of travel to find the ancestral cream. Don’t you know I am going to be the next king? Oh! I see. You know I am looking for the cream so you are purposely trying to delay me so that the giant warrior will find it first.” The old man replied, “Son that is not true, if you can help me get home I will show you the hut where the ancestral cream is located.” When the warrior heard that his heart jumped and he agreed to help the blind man.
“Here” said the great warrior to the old man, “put your hand around my arm, give me the directions and I will take you home.” The blind man put his hand around the great warriors arm but said to him, “ I will lead you there.” As they began to walk the great warrior, anxious to find the cream first, kept telling the blind man to hurry up as he rushed through the jungle pulling the blind man with him. Soon they arrived at the blind man’s hut. When they arrived, the blind man thanked the great warrior and said to him, “You see that path, I want you to take it and walk straight and it will take you to the hut where the ancestral cream is. When you get there, you will see several calabashes made of gold, some made of silver, all containing cream but you will see one small and one large calabash made of clay. Take the small clay one. It contains the cream you are looking for” “Thank you, thank you” exclaimed the warrior and off he went. When he reached the hut, he could not believe his eyes, the beauty of the golden and silver calabashes. He collected as much of the golden and silver calabashes as he could carry with him. At the corner of the hut sat a small and a large clay calabash. He looked at them, decided he didn’t want the small one and took the larger clay calabash thinking it contain more ancestral cream and he made his way back to the village with golden, silver and one large clay calabash.
The giant warriors turn came next. The old blind man asks him for help in getting home. The giant warrior agreed to help the old man. “I will lead you to my home” said the old blind man. The giant warrior humbly agreed to let the old blind man take the lead. When they arrived at the old blind man’s home, he thanked the giant warrior and gave him the same advice and direction as he gave the great warrior.
When the giant warrior arrived in the hut, where the cream was, he remembered what the old blind man told him. On his way back he realized he was running late but stopped by the old mans hut to thank him. While he thanked him he felt the need to ask him for help once more. He told the old blind man “We were given seven days to bring this cream back. It is almost the end of the seventh day. I cannot make a whole day journey in a few hours. Could you please tell me where I can find a short cut through the jungle so I may reach home on time? I must get back on time so the king can have a proper burial. The old man replied, “Son, don’t worry I will help you. I want you to close your eyes, when I say open them you open them.”
When he opens his eyes as instructed he realized that they were both standing on the edge of a small lake. In a surprised tone he told the old blind man, “How did this happen, how did we get here, look at the lake; I know this lake, I come here to fetch water everyday for my family. Look, over there; that is my village; it is just a short walk away.” The blind man replied, “You have done well my son. The villages elders are waiting for you go now.” Poof, the blind man vanished into thin air. The giant warrior arrived home first with the small clay calabash containing the ancestral cream. When he got home, his mother, sister and the village elders became overjoyed about his safe return. His mother was even more overjoyed seeing her son had returned home safely and that he will be crowned the next king over the village. Oh! The joy they felt, the women got together and danced in celebration. After the king received a proper burial, the giant warrior was crowned the new king
Not long after, the great warrior arrived and saw the giant warrior sitting on the throne. The great warrior became very upset at the village elders. “What have you done? You have given my throne away to him? The throne is mine! It is mine! I am greater than the giant warrior; I have fought the gods and beaten them. I am brave. I am a warrior. Here, here is the ancestral cream; I brought some in gold and silver calabashes.” The elders asked the great warrior to pour the cream out so they could see. As he did, all that came out of the calabashes was sand.
In achieving success in all aspect of one’s life focus, determination, discipline, and perseverance are a MUST. As the above story illustrates, the ancestral cream is a representation of success. The old blind man and old lady are representation of those who are put on our path to help us succeed. Different people are given different talents to use to serve mankind. The beautiful lady is a representation of worldly things that are nothing more than distractions. It represents things that look pleasing to the eye, but are only there to aid you in failing. The calabashes represent choices and finding the ancestral cream represents success.
You too can succeed in all aspects of your life. Success is a birthright. However, success can only be attained when one makes the right choices or at least learns from their mistakes. There will always be all sorts of things that look great and pleasing to the eye as you undertake your life journey. If you are focused on what matters the most, you will succeed.