it was the time long before European ships ventured into Africa. In the small town of Ukeh, amongst the igbos, myths and legends abounded. Nwangele River was the big deal in this town; it was both their source of drinking water and their god. Tales were woven by the elders of Ukeh about the power of the gods who dwelt in the river. There was a time when the children of the river gods began to find their way into the lives of the people of Ukeh by being born as mortals. Those children of the gods brought with them wealth and riches into the families they were born. At a point it became a common practice to inquire from oracles if a new born child was of the gods or of men; in the cases where a child was of the gods, it would call for great celebration. The family into which a child of the gods was born would know that its affairs were lack and penury were over; their new child would fill their houses with riches. Their barns will be filled with plenty, their farms would produce abundantly, their chickens, sheep, goats and cows would increase; and even the woman in the family would know no bareness.
However as Ukeh prospered and the sound of joy filled it; their river gods were not happy, they sat and agreed to recall to the river kingdom all their children who had been born as humans in Ukeh.
So one eke market day, death began to sweep through the land of Ukeh; the children of the gods were being summoned home. At the streams, at the market place and in the farms dead bodies piled up. Wailing and sorrow filled the land. On that day, Ukeh, a once happy town, became a byword for sorrow. If one cried over one’s dead relativies or losses, such a person would be told, “Do not cry like Ukeh, it shall be well again with you”.
However there were few children of the gods who did not heed the call to return to the river kingdom. They found life in Ukeh much more enjoyable than their lives in the river as children of the elder river gods. They made a stand and refused to return to their kingdom.
The river gods sat yet again and sent emissaries to them, but they did not heed the call of the gods; their minds had been made up to live as men. So the gods of the river kingdom cursed them, and in one day, all the twenty of them ran mad and began to feed on the people of Ukeh like the beasts of the field.
The elders of Ukeh sought the gods for answers and were told to bring to Nwangele River the heads of those twenty rebellious sons and daughters of the gods. Warriors skilled in the art of killing were sent and within weeks the heads of those children of the gods were supplied at Nwangele River and so the curse of the children of the gods feeding on the people of Ukeh ceased. After the departureof the children of the gods, the wealth they brought with them began to diminish until there was nothing left of them. After the pain and searing sorrows which over took the joy those children of the gods brought to the land of Ukeh, the people of the land decided they would never let the children of the gods dwell amongst them nor seek them to be born into their homes. They made it their tradition to inquire when a baby is born whether it is of the gods or men. Before celebrations would begin for the new born child to their midst, they would first seek their river gods to know if the child was theirs. Such enquiry was done by throwing new born babies into Nwangele River. If the child disappeared into the river, then it was a child of the gods, but if it floated, then it was of men.
Though mothers hated the practice, they still had to do it to forestall the danger of the children growing up only to turn into flesh eating beasts.