A LONG, very long time ago, there lived a king called Adangba. He was very rich, very powerful and feared. He was a warrior who won all the wars he fought. He had many slaves and a big compound where his blacksmiths worked day and night to fashion out new weapons and repair old ones. He had many vassal towns that paid him taxes regularly. In spite of his wealth and power, Adangba was a kind and considerate man. He treated his people with fairness and was generous to his chiefs. Ordinarily, he should be a happy man but he was not for he had no son to inherit his throne.
Adamgba had a palace full of beautiful women, wives in dozens who gave him even more beautiful daughters. But was the use of beautiful daughters to a king who needed an heir? But he kept on trying because some bad people were saying some bad things about him. Some said he was not really a man otherwise he would have had a son. There were almost loud rumours that Adamgba had made a pact with the gods that he would not have sons as long as the gods gave him victory in every battle. Most of these stories got back to the king and kept him up at night. He would pace up and down his chambers for hours in pain and confusion. He offered sacrifices in all the shrines to all the gods but each time a queen fell into labour, she brought forth yet another girl.
Until one year, one evening, after the new yam festival, one of the neighbouring kings brought his daughter as a gift for the king. The king was reluctant for more than a reason. He had tried and tried and failed and failed. What was the guarantee that Ena, this new wife was going to give him a son, and not more daughters? He was already a minority in a palace full of females! And then this new wife not even beautiful. In fact, she was ugly.
The other wives sneered and sniggered. What was Ena going to do that they had not done? They even told her to her face that the best she would ever achieve was to produce the ugliest princess in the palace because since she was ugly, all her seeds would be ugly. But to the shock and dismay of all, including Ena herself, nine months after she paid King Adamgba her first night in the royal chambers, she gave birth to a set of twin boys, two beautiful boys.
It was a new day in the kingdom and royal household. The king was beside himself with joy.
How could ugly Ena have given birth to beautiful babies? The king banished them all fro his chambers for seven market days. And Ena had more than her fair share of royal warmth.
Then they accused her of bewitching the king. Each time any of the princesses fell ill, Ena was the witch who caused it, the ugly stranger who had brought trouble to the palace. For a long time, King Adamgba tried to maintain a balance in his palace but the wives were determined to either frustrate or kill Ena who had come to make look bad by giving the king an heir, indeed two. Until the king proclaimed a royal order that made Ena an untouchable queen whose harassment was punishable by death. It was only then that Ena found peace and went on to give birth to two more sons and two daughters.
The moral of that story. It is the black pot that produces the white pap. Do not judge a book by its cover. Years ago when I read Toads for Supper by Chukwuemeka Ike, the copy I got had no front or back cover. I didn't know what was in the book but I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I was happy I didn;t yield to the temptation to ignore the book just because it had no cover. Just like King Adamgba didn't let Ena's ugliness discourage him. He would have lost the throne to another lineage but or the heir that Ena produced.