Ayele, the Little Lost Girl



Ayele was a little 6-year old girl who lived in a village with her mother, her father, her brothers and sisters and all her cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.  This is the way many children live in Africa, surrounded by lots of family and friends, who may have to come to stay.  So Ayele had a lot of people around to take care of her.  She had a lot of people to play with too.  Lots of cousins and brothers and sisters and friends. 

She loved to go with her best girlfriends into the woods and hills.  They would watch the monkeys play, listen to the birds, swim in the river, mimic the frogs and catch silver fish with their bare hands.  It was a fun life, and it was summer all the time.  It’s like that in a lot of African countries. 

Ayele’s favorite thing to do was to climb the hills around her village and pick flowers.  There were all kinds of flowers of all kinds of colors.  Sometimes lovely white sticky sap would run out of them when she plucked them, and run down her fingers.  But she would wipe her hands on the lush green grass, and go on. 

One day when Ayele was out playing with her friends they all decided to go to a particular hill that had beautiful flowers.  Ayele remembered that her parents had told her to always tell them where she was going.  One of Ayele friends said, “Let’s go tell our mommies.”   But Ayele thought that if she told her mother that she was going to the hills, she would say Ayele shouldn’t go because the sun was going down.  So, Ayele quickly said, “No, let’s just go quickly and come right back, and surprise them with the beautiful flowers.”  She started skipping off to the hill, and the other little girls followed, laughing, and cartwheeling all the way. 

They got to the top of the hill, panting and breathless, and found the most gorgeous patch of flowers. They started picking the flowers as fast as they could and made a game of picking the most flowers.  In their excitement and joy they did not notice that the sun was going down faster and faster or that the flowers were beginning to close up for the night, curling their petals. 

In the meantime in Ayele’s village, mothers were busy shouting for daughters to come and help with dinner.  “Ayele”! “Ayele”!   Ayele’s mother shouted, “Come in here, you know it’s time to prepare dinner!”  Ayele’s mother, like all the other moms, wasn’t getting any answers.  One mom would shout over to another’s house to see if her little girl was over there.  Another would shout to her friend.  Very soon, all the mothers knew that none of their little girls could be found.  They met in the village square.  Fathers were close behind them.  Dinner was forgotten.  “Where could those little ones be!” they thought, and the sun was about to disappear over the hills.  When that happened there would be no light at all.  Ayele’s little village didn’t have electricity yet. 

The mothers and fathers lit their hurricane lamps and began to search everywhere. They searched the woods, down by the river, in the farms…no one. 

In the meantime high up on the hill the little girls suddenly realized that they could hardly see the flowers, so they began to walk back to the village.  That’s when they found out they weren’t sure which way they had come.  They tried first one way and then another.  AND THEN DARKNESS FELL.  It was really scary.  The only thing they could do was sit.  Ayele began to cry.  She remembered stories her big brother had told her about leopards and night snakes.  She just wanted to be home having dinner.  The other little girls told Ayele to stop crying like a baby, someone would come for them.  But she couldn’t stop crying, so they made up a song about her: 

“Ayele lost her mommy,

Ayele lost her mommy,

Poor Ayele, poor Ayele,

Ayele lost her mommy.” 

The song made Ayele laugh, and it made them all feel better, so they sang together, louder and louder.

By this time the mommies had reached the hill.  They searched and searched under every bush.  As they came up the hill, one of them said, “Wait, listen, I hear something.”  And sure enough it was the little girls singing: 

“Ayele lost her mommy,

Ayele lost her mommy,

Poor Ayele, poor Ayele,

Ayele lost her mommy.” 


The mommies shouted to the daddies that they had found them, and ran up the hill, hurricane lamps swinging madly. They followed the sound of singing and just over the top of the hill… there they were!!! Their little girls.  The mommies were breathless, worried and angry, but when they saw their daughters they just couldn’t scold them.  Mommies ran to little girls and little girls ran toward hurricane lamp lights and finally into mommies arms.  They were glad to be found and excited to be going home.  They showed off their flowers and all the way home sang the song together: 

“Ayele lost her mommy,

Ayele lost her mommy,

Poor Ayele, poor Ayele,

Ayele lost her mommy”. 

copyright © 1997 Carroll Ayo Durodola

To see this story where it was featured in Yoruba Alliance magazine, click on this link. http://www.yorubaalliance.org/Newsletter/newsletter35.htm On the page scroll down and click NEXT to see some great pictures from the festivals.


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