Think about your favorite lunch: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, for example.
Now imagine you had to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for every meal of every day.
PB&J for breakfast, PB&J for lunch, PB&J for dinner. All day long: PB&J!
You would probably start to get a little tired of it, right? It would be too much of a good thing, as the saying goes?
We're about to visit a world where the people know exactly how that feels!
Our story is called “Night and Day.” Versions of this tale come from the Yoruba people of western Africa and Brazil.
Voices in this episode include Robert Feng, Edward Hong, Elizabeth Kelly, Erika Rose, Mike Smith, Dawn Ursula, and MASUMI. MASUMI stars in the new movie, Yakuza Princess. She also wrote and performed the original song “Run Baby, Run,” which is featured in the film.
This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Supervising Producer Amory Sivertson. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.
ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes, click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.
Things To Think About After Listening
What are some of your favorite things to do once the sun goes down? In the summers do you enjoy sitting around the campfire? In the winter, do you enjoy gazing up at the stars?
Find some paper, some markers, crayons, or colored pencils, and draw a picture of yourself as you enjoy your favorite nighttime activities. Show your picture to someone you love, and then share it with us! Ask a grown-up snap a photo of you and your drawing, then email it to email@example.com.
Musical Spotlight: Talking Drum
Historically, the Yoruba people used drums to create “drum speech”: a method of communication before written language became widespread. That’s why the drums are often known as “talking drums.” The traditional Yoruba drums consist of the three-legged Igbin which you play with hands and sticks, the Dundun, which plays rhythm and melody, and the two-toned Bata drums.
NARRATOR: Way, way back… when the world was as young as a newborn baby… it was always day.
The sun kept its place high in the sky --- its golden rays constantly bathing the mountains and valleys, the ponds and streams, the fields and forests.
So the earth was bright… and the earth was warm… but with the sun forever blazing up above, the people were often… out of sync.
PERSON 1: Hello there, friends! I wonder, will you help my family and I work our fields?
PERSON 2: I can’t! It’s time for my family and I to sleep! We’ve been up for hours!
PERSON 3: And it’s time for my family and I to eat! We’re absolutely famished!
PERSON 4: (sleepy) And my family and I aren’t quite ready to wake up yet. We’ve only been snoozing for a few hours...
NARRATOR: Now, back in those early times, there was one place where the sun did not shine.
Down at the bottom of the ocean… far from the sun’s glow... it was always night… dark and shadowy and cool.
And that’s where Yemaya, the goddess of the waters, lived with her daughter, Oya: goddess of the winds.
As the goddess of the waters, Yemaya ruled all the liquid bodies of the earth: the oceans, the seas, the rivers, the lakes. As for Oya, it was her job to swim out of the ocean, into the river, then up to the surface of the water, so she could unleash her winds and breezes across the earth.
And every time Oya rose above the water’s surface, the goddess was always struck by the same thing:
OYA: (in awe) Light! Look at all this magnificent light that bathes the world! See how it makes the trees shimmer! And the grass glisten! It’s so different from where I live, where the cloak of darkness covers the bottom of the sea all the time...Oh, if only I could live up here!
NARRATOR: After some time, Oya finally worked up the courage to voice her desire to Yemaya. But when her mother heard her wish...
YEMAYA: You want to what...?!??!!
NARRATOR: ...the water goddess didn’t take very kindly to it.
YEMAYA: Come now, Oya! You don’t seriously wish to live in the world above?!? Do you, daughter...?!???
OYA: I do, Mother!! It’s depressing down here in the dark! I want to live like the people do, and bask in the light of the sun! All the time!!!
YEMAYA: Oh, Oya. You don’t understand, do you, child? You and I belong in the world below! We’re not meant to reside in the world of light. This is how it’s always been, and how it always will be.
NARRATOR: Well, Oya refused to listen to her mother. And the next time the Wind Goddess swam to the water’s surface to unleash a gentle breeze across the earth, she actually ventured out of the water and up to the riverbank! And the moment she did...
CHIEFTESS: Excuse me...?
NARRATOR: ...she heard a voice, calling out to her!
CHIEFTESS: Miss..? Hello!
NARRATOR: Oya whirled around. And who should she see heading her way…
CHIEFTESS: Greetings, miss!
NARRATOR: ...but a woman!
CHIEFTESS: I hope I didn’t startle you, miss. I am chieftess of the village down the shore, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before! Are you new around here?
OYA: ‘Am I new around here’…?
NARRATOR: Oya decided it would be best not to reveal her true identity.
OYA: Well… I suppose you could say I haven’t spent much time around these parts... It’s a beautiful place!
CHIEFTESS: It is, isn’t it?
NARRATOR: The chieftess glanced around and sighed.
CHIEFTESS: I’ve had the pleasure of living here my entire life. From the time I was very young, you have no idea how many days I spent frolicking along the river with all of my — Oh, silly me. I say “days,” but isn’t it always day? The way the sun shines constantly, is it one long day or an endless string of continuous ones? We never know when we’re supposed to sleep… when we’re supposed to eat… when we’re supposed to work, or play. But then you know what it’s like. Right?
NARRATOR: The truth was, Oya had no idea what it was like! But to her, it all sounded positively amazing! So what if people got a little disoriented? All that sun surely was worth it!
OYA: Listen, Chieftess. I wonder... may I come and stay with you? In your village? I’m happy to help out in any way I can. Would you mind having a guest for a little while?
NARRATOR: The chieftess smiled.
CHIEFTESS: I wouldn’t mind at all! Come. I’ll introduce you to everybody. Right this way!
NARRATOR: So Oya went to the chieftess’s village. Right away, she took to the villagers like a fish takes to water. And the feeling was mutual. Oya helped the farmers plant their crops and tend their animals... she helped the teachers give lessons to the children in school… And all the while, she seemed to have boundless energy, going from activity to activity with a spark in her eye and a spring in her step.
Granted, no one in the village actually knew a thing about her. She never told them her name… and every time they asked where she came from, she always gave the same sheepish answer.
OYA: ‘Where do I come from,’ you ask??? Oh… it’s somewhere down south. And it’s nothing like here!
NARRATOR: But whenever the villagers seemed sufficiently distracted by their tasks, Oya would release a gentle breeze or gust of wind across the land... and then casually carry on with what she was doing, glancing up nervously to make sure she hadn't ‘blown’ her cover!
After a while, though… things began to change. The spark in Oya’s eye grew dim, and the spring in her step went away completely. Her boundless energy began to peter out, and she felt sluggish, and slow. Before long, she was lagging behind the farmers as they went about their work. And she felt far too faint and weak to help out at the school.
The people adored Oya. And it wasn’t long before they were beside themselves with worry.
PERSON 1: Oh dear! Have you seen our visitor lately?
PERSON 2: She seems so listless! So drained!
PERSON 3: I asked her to see a doctor, but she refused! She said a doctor wouldn’t be able to help ‘someone like her.’
PERSON 4: I wonder what she means???!
NARRATOR: Now, again, remember — the people had no idea that Oya… was a goddess! They assumed this mysterious visitor was a regular person, just like you and me.
But finally, as Oya lay in bed — her health and energy dwindling — she knew she had to come clean.
OYA: Listen, my friends! It’s time I told you! I’m not who you think I am! I’m actually… a goddess!
PERSON 1: / PERSON 2: / PERSON 3: / PERSON 4: (gasp)
OYA: It’s true. My name is Oya, and I am the Goddess of the Wind. My mother is Yemaya, the Goddess of the Waters, and I defied her wishes to come up here, and enjoy your spectacular sun, and luminous light!
NARRATOR: Oya fluttered her eyelids.
OYA: But now, I’m afraid the light has drained me of nearly all my energy. I didn't appreciate the darkness when I had it, and now I'm too weak to even make it back to my beloved ocean. Oh… if only night could come to this wonderful world of yours!
CHIEFTESS: But Oya!
NARRATOR: The chieftess grabbed Oya’s hand and gave it a squeeze.
CHIEFTESS: What if… somehow… we could bring night to this world? It would make you well again, Oya — and it would help my people feel less confused and muddled! With a little bit of night -- a little bit of darkness — we would all know what time to wake up… to work…. to play… to go to sleep! Oya. Can you tell us how to bring darkness to my village?
NARRATOR: Oya thought for a moment.
OYA: Actually, Chieftess…?
NARRATOR: She took a deep breath.
OYA: (summoning more energy) I know a way to bring darkness not just to your village… but to the entire world! You just have to be willing… to get wet!!!
NARRATOR: How do you think the people will bring night to the world?
We’ll find out what happens, after a quick break.
NARRATOR: I’m Rebecca Sheir. Welcome back to Circle Round. Today our story is called “Night and Day.”
NARRATOR: Before the break, the wind goddess — Oya — was delighted to be in the world above, where there was plenty of sun and light. She came from far beneath the ocean, where she and her mother — the water goddess, Yemaya — lived in pitch darkness all the time.
But after being in a world of unrelenting sun, Oya began to fade and grow tired. So she told the people in the village how they might bring darkness, and night, to the earth.
OYA: (still weak, but trying to summon more energy) Listen, my friends. Do you see this seashell necklace around my neck?
NARRATOR: Oya turned toward the leader of the village.
OYA: (still weak, but trying to summon more energy) Chieftess. You must wear this necklace, and venture to the depths of the ocean. The necklace will help you breathe under the water. And once you reach my mother’s kingdom, you must ask her for some darkness. Tell her her daughter is in trouble. And I'm sure she will oblige.
NARRATOR: So the Chieftess put on Oya’s seashell necklace and ventured beneath the sea. Down she swam… down, down, down… until, at last, she reached Yemaya’s kingdom. When she arrived, she found the powerful goddess of the waters crying!
CHIEFTESS: Goddess…? Oh gracious, divine one?
NARRATOR: Yemaya wiped a tear from her eye, then stared at the chieftess.
YEMAYA: A mortal!!! It’s not often we see human beings down this deep! Who sent you?!
CHIEFTESS: Well you see, Goddess…
NARRATOR: The Chieftess held up the seashell necklace.
CHIEFTESS: … it was your daughter! Oya!
NARRATOR: The goddess opened her eyes wide.
YEMAYA: You’ve seen Oya…!???
CHIEFTESS: I have! And I must say, Oh Immortal One… she’s not in a good way. Her yearning for the sun brought her to our world, above the water! And now the neverending sun is making her sick… and weak… and so I beg you… on behalf of your daughter… could you please share some of your darkness? Some of your night? I don’t think your daughter will survive without it!
NARRATOR: Yemaya took in the Chieftess’s words, and mulled them over. Then, slowly, she pulled out a big, black bag.
YEMAYA: Alright, mortal. Listen up and listen good. This big black bag here contains darkness — but it’s for my daughter only! The bag must not be opened by anyone else, and its contents must not be shared. Is that clear?
CHIEFTESS: Yes, Yemaya!
NARRATOR: The chieftess nodded her head eagerly.
CHIEFTESS: I understand! It’s for Oya only!
YEMAYA: Good. Now take it up to your world and make good on your promise.
CHIEFTESS: I will, Yemaya! You can count on me.
NARRATOR: The moment the Chieftess laid her hands on the bag, she swam up, up, up to the water’s surface and went running across the shore. As soon as she reached the village, she handed the bag to Oya.
CHIEFTESS: This bag, Oya… is for you! Your mother said it must not be shared with anyone else.
NARRATOR: Oya took the bag and thanked the chieftess. Then she loosened the bag’s drawstrings and poked her head inside. The moment she immersed herself in the tranquil darkness, she instantly felt a bit better.
Oya began opening the bag here and there, enjoying little spurts of brief and calming night. Before long, she was back to her regular self again, with a spark in her eye and a spring in her step.
But as she looked around at the people in the village, it dawned on her that their eyes were anything but sparkly, and their steps had anything but a spring.
Suddenly, she remembered what the Chieftess said to her the very first day they met.
CHIEFTESS: We never know when we’re supposed to sleep… when we’re supposed to eat… when we’re supposed to work, or play. But then you know what it’s like. Right?
NARRATOR: Now… all this time later… Oya knew exactly what it was like.
And she wanted to help.
Her mother, Yemaya, said Oya mustn’t share the bag with anyone else, but suddenly the wind goddess couldn’t help herself. She loosened the drawstrings… and instead of thrusting her head inside the bag, she held it wide open! And in an instant, a twisting, twirling swirl of darkness came whooshing out.
The spiral of darkness made its way up to the sky, and suddenly…
NARRATOR: ...the world went black.
All at once, the people began to cheer.
PERSON 1: Night! It’s finally night!
PERSON 2: At last we have a pause in the day!
PERSON 3: At last, we have a pause from the sun!
PERSON 4: Now we all can rest! We can rest!
NARRATOR: And with that, every single person in the village lay down, and fell fast asleep.
Oya began letting a bit of darkness out of the bag on a regular basis. So after a long, bright spell of work, school, and play, nighttime would fall… and the people would relax and repose, drowse and doze.
But when Yemaya caught wind of what her daughter was doing, she was furious!
YEMAYA: I said Oya must keep the darkness for herself! I deliberately said she could not share it!
NARRATOR: So the next time Oya loosened the drawstrings of the bag, do you know what happened?
In addition to the swirl and twirl of darkness that let loose, all sorts of other things came bursting out as well! Night creatures the people had never seen — or heard — before!
Like the owls with their haunting hoots…
NARRATOR: ...the frogs with their rasping croaks…
NARRATOR: … and the cicadas with their trilling buzzes and clicks.
NARRATOR: Not only that, but there were prowling tigers…
NARRATOR: ...slithering snakes…
NARRATOR: ...and flying bats flitting from tree to tree, as they gobbled up the bugs and insects that now zig-zagged through the cool, inky-black air.
NARRATOR: The people fell into a panic.
PERSON 1: Oya!
PERSON 2: What in the world is going on?
PERSON 3: What has become of our night?
PERSON 4: Why has it gotten so… creepy?!?
NARRATOR: Oya knew she must do something to quell the people’s fears.
She quickly gathered some branches and rubbed two sticks together. The wood began to smolder and spark, and once it caught fire, she tossed one of the sticks high into the sky.
And there it stuck! Its flame becoming the radiant orb we now know as... the moon.
OYA: Moon...? From now on, it’s your job to light the night sky, then disappear once day is near.
NARRATOR: After that, Oya flung up another stick — tossing it in such a way that the sparks scattered all across the sky.
OYA: Stars! From now on, it’s your job to make beautiful pictures across the sky, and show us the way when we’re wandering or lost.
NARRATOR: Finally, Oya let out a whistle…
NARRATOR: … and a flock of colorful birds came flying over.
OYA: Hello, my feathered friends! From now on, you will be my morning birds! You shall sing most sweetly at dawn, and wake the people with your beautiful song!
NARRATOR: And thus, that is how the people went from endless day… to a blissful cycle of day... night… then day again.
Over and over and over.
As for Oya, she did return to her mother’s kingdom under the sea. But every time the wind goddess burst to the water’s surface to spread a breeze across the land, she stuck around long enough to feel the bright warm rays of the sun, before dipping back into the water to enjoy the cool dark of eternal night.