Jar or Basket

Photo by Vansh Sharma on Pexels.com

My father was a storyteller! He would wrap major life-lessons in stories, allowing him to discuss complex issues delicately. I have found this approach to be incredibly helpful in my life, so I will tell you a quick story.

Tola and Sade lived in a small village close to the Ogun River. The Ogun River is the source of life to the Ake people. They drank, bathed, washed, farmed, and fed their life stock from it. It was also said to have healing powers and to bestow beauty (for a duration) on whoever used a lot of it consistently for bathing. But the river had some rules;

  • Bathing or washing is not allowed in the river.
  • You can only visit the river once a day
  • The age limit is 70 as the terrains are unkind.
  • No one was allowed to go to the river on the weekend, as that was the time when the gods bathed and infused magical powers into the river.

Tola and Sade are beautiful 27 years old women, they are in the prime of their lives, and the world was their oyster. Their daily routine was to wake up at daybreak, take their containers, and go to the river to fetch water for their daily need. Every morning Tola and Sade will meet at the village square and walk the treacherous path to the river. They will fill their jars and head back home.

Photo by Tope A. Asokere on Pexels.com

While Tola and Sade had the same access to the river, they did things very differently. Tola was always in a hurry, she was already beautiful, but she wanted to be the village belle at all cost. She needed everyone to see how beautiful she was, so she would dance at the village square early enough for the farmers to see her on their way to the farm. She came up with a brilliant plan. She would use a basket instead of a jar to fetch water, get wet (bathed) immediately, become more radiant, and then head straight for the village square to show off her beauty. Never mind that she needed water for other things like washing, drinking, feeding her livestock, and farming, all that was important to her was that she was beautiful, and everyone knew it.

Sade, on the other hand, took a different approach. She started with a 10-liter jar and used 7-liters for bathing, drinking, washing, feeding her animals, and growing her garden, and she stored the remaining 3litres. Sade decided to barter water for a 20litre jar from an old jar-maker for 30 liters of water. She calculated that her current capacity was 50litres/week, and she needed 49 liters/week to run her life, so it will take 8 months to save up the 30 liters of water required to get the new jar.

Once she had the second jar, Sade figured she could carry the 20litres jar on her head and the 10litres in her hands. It was hard for her at the beginning, and she would lose about 5litres on the way home but over time, she was able to build the muscle to carry the 30litres successfully. She increased her daily usage to 10liters/day and her stored capacity became 80litres/week. Although her growth was exponential, the pressure of carrying 30litres daily was excruciating. So, Sade devised a plan to ease the burden; she would barter 4,000litres of water for a jar cart and 6,000litres for a horse. It took 3 years to reach 10,000liters of water, but once completed, her daily capacity increased to 200litres/day using her horse and jar cart to transport water from the river.

Soon enough, Sade was able to hire someone to manage the water transport to the village, and she was able to focus on other new opportunities. Sade grew her farmland, bought more livestock, and before long, she had become a known exporter of milk, eggs, meat, and vegetables to other villages. In 15 years, Sade had built an empire all from a 10litre jar of water.

Beautiful, frail Tola still dances at the village square, she is no longer as young as she once was, and younger belles fill the square now, making it difficult for her to shine.

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