Lobu ku Xibinhu (Lobu and Xibinhu) stories are some of the most common folktales in the Cape Verde islands off the coast of West Africa. Almost anyone will know at least one or two Lobu and Xibinhu stories that they can tell by heart, even the kids. Of course, it helps that you can make them up if as you go along -- that's the wonderful thing about folktales.

They are all pretty much the same -- Lobu does something stupid and greedy, and Xibinhu tricks him, either to steal from him or to make his life worse for no good reason. Sometimes the trick comes first, sometimes the greediness. Sometimes Xibinhu kills Lobu, sometimes not. They are all meant to be funny, and generally do not have any sort of moral.

There are lots of other characters; Tia Ganga (Aunt Ganga, who is a chicken), Kabra Gazela ('goat antelope', the mother goat), Nhu Lion (Mr. Lion), and usually a witch, a king, or a wiseman. Often God is a major character. Although all characters are kind-of-sort-of human, many are also animals. Lobu and Xibinhu are pretty much all human, but Lobu means dog (from the Portuguese for wolf), and Xibinhu means rabbit. (Xibinhu is pronounced Shibiñu).

Lobu is always stupid and greedy, and always Xibinhu's uncle. Xibinhu is always smarter than Lobu. Other than that, any aspect of the characters and their lives may change depending on what the story needs.

If any of you actually know Cape Verdean Kriolu and get to hear one of these stories, it helps to know that Lobu usually has a speech disorder -- lisping, baby talk, whatever. It's just part of his foolishness. It takes a while to get used to.

Here is the Lobu and Xibinhu story I hear most often, retold and translated into English by me. I've tried to keep the Cape Verdean way of storytelling, which often sounds odd, and of course, the story itself is pretty odd. That's just the way Cape Verdean stories are.

Lobu and Xibinhu go to Heaven

One day Lobu and Xibinhu went to Heaven to visit God. Xibinhu asked Lobu "What are you bringing for God?" Lobu said "I'm going to bring him some wine." So they stopped in the store and bought two big bottles of wine.

So they walk and they walked... soon Xibinhu said to Lobu "Oh, I'm thirsty. Let's drink just a little bit of the wine." Xibinhu raised the bottle to his mouth and pretended to drink some, but he didn't really swallow any.

Lobu saw Xibinhu drink his wine, so he opened his bottle, and drank some of his own wine. Three big gulps -- Glug, glug, glug.

A little later, Xibinhu said "oh, uncle Lobu, I'm thirsty again. let's drink a little more of the wine." So again Xibinhu pretended to drink some wine, and again Lobu drank in big gulps.

Three more times Xibinhu asked for them to stop and drink, and every time Xibinhu only pretended to drink. Each time Lobu drank more wine, until finally he had none left.

"Oh Xibinhu, what are we going to do now, we don't have any wine! What will we give to God?"

"Don't worry Lobu, here's what we'll do; pee in the bottle, so that it will look full. God won't notice."

So Lobu peed in the bottle until it was full, and at the same time Xibinhu held his bottle down and pretended to pee in it -- but really, it was still full of wine.

So finally they arrived at God's house. "Hello God!" they said "We've come to spend the night with you." God replied "Well, then you're both welcome. Come and visit". (It should be noted that there is absolutely nothing funny about this paragraph. Just filler, really. Required by the narrative).

So they entered and gave their gifts to God. God took the bottles. Xibinhu's bottle he put on the table. Lobu's bottle he put under the bed. (That is to say, where the chamber pot should be).

When it was time for dinner, he called Xibinhu to come eat at the table, which was full of good food. Then he called Lobu, and sent him to eat with the pigs in the pigsty.

After dinner, God showed Xibinhu his bed, which was big and soft. But he sent Lobu to go sleep in the pigsty with the pigs.

The next morning, Lobu and Xibinhu set off for home. God gave them both bundles to take with them. They hadn't gone far when Lobu stopped and said, "Wait Xibinhu, let's rest and see what God gave us." So they stopped, and Xibinhu unwrapped his bundle. Inside were all kinds of good things. Then Lobu unwrapped his bundle -- but in his was a swarm of bees!

Lobu ran and ran, but they bees were faster, and stung him many times. So he curled up in a ball on the ground, but he couldn't escape the bees.

Finaly he said "Oh Xibinhu, I've had enough. Let's go home. I'm not going to visit God any more. I don't think that he likes me."

So next time Xibinhu wanted to go visit God, Lobu told him that he was going to stay home. And from then on, Lobu didn't visit God any more.

And that's the bean-stalk above, the bean-stalk bellow, they that know more can tell the story better. (Traditional ending to a story. No one's really ever been able to explain to me what the beans have to do with anything).

A further note: So far most of the feedback I've gotten on this node has been along the lines of "What a stupid story!" Well, yes... All Lobu and Xibinhu stories are stupid. Some have much less of a story line. Some have nothing but farting and nudity jokes. They're 1. only meant to be funny, and 2. from a different culture. The whole 'beginning, middle, end' format is a little blurred -- believe it or not, I tightened up the ending so it wouldn't drift off too far. Where we would probably stop with the "I don't think that God likes me." Cape Verdeans will drift on for a few more paragraphs. Of course, I may have a terrible writing style, but the meat and the basic format of the story is just the way it should be -- stupid. If you want a serious mythology, do what the Cape Verdeans do -- read the Bible.

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