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African Grey Legend

african gray parrot art by Roy Astley Fryer(A traditional Yoruba Tribe legend of the African Grey)

"In many west and west central African cultures, the African grey parrot is considered sacred. . ."

According to a legend from the ancestral culture of the Yoruba people of South Western Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, the Republic of Togo and Ghana, the African grey parrot which is known as Odide was not always grey, nor did it always have red tail feathers.

God decided to have a contest to see which bird had the most beautiful feathers so all the birds in the world began preparing themselves. They sought to improve their beauty by adding things to themselves or trying to enhance their colors.

At that time the Odide, which was white in color, made no preparations at all. This caused the other birds to wonder, why were they working so hard and why Odide was doing nothing at all. All of the other birds began to worry. They were afraid that if Odide entered the contest they would all lose.

So, all the other birds got together and decided to spoil Odide's natural beauty. They first tried to spoil Odide's beauty by dumping ashes on it as it flew through the trees.

This did not seem to have any effect.....

Next the other birds went to the Sorcerer to get an evil charm which would turn the Odide's tail feathers red. The other birds were quite sure that the Odide would not enter the contest now, since they had spoiled its natural beauty.

On the day of the beauty contest the Odide entered anyway in spite of all that had been done to it. Much to the surprise of the other birds, God awarded the prize to the Odide because it came to the contest even though so much harm had been done to it. God said that the Odide was indeed the most beautiful bird, because true beauty is on the inside.

In many west and west central African cultures the African grey parrot is considered sacred and its tail feathers are a symbol of or an emblem of royalty.

When Kings and Queens are crowned and members of the priesthood ordained at least one tail feather from the African grey must either be in the crown or some where on the person being crowned or ordained.

This is done to remind them that true beauty comes from within.

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