When a farmer traverses the highlands and lowlands of the countryside in search of his lost calf, he returns to his village with an eagle chick.

He decides to keep the eagle among the chickens on the compound.

“The eagle is the king of the birds,” he said, “but we shall train it to be a chicken.”

So the eagle lived among the chickens, learning their ways.

One day, a friend comes over to visit the farmer…

The friend saw the bird among the chickens. “Hey! That’s not a chicken. It’s an eagle!”

The farmer smiled to him and said, “Of course it’s a chicken. Look – it walks like a chicken, it talks like a chicken, it eats like a chicken. It thinks like a chicken. Of course it’s a chicken.

Unconvinced, his friend sets out to prove to the farmer that the bird is indeed an eagle.

Fly, Eagle, Fly! is a Ghanaian fable originally told by educationist James Kwegyir Aggrey also known as “Aggrey of Africa” (October 18, 1875 – July 30, 1927). He was born during the colonial era when the greater part of modern Ghana was called the Gold Coast. Working as a pastor and educator, he toured the African continent and shared this story time and again to inspire confidence.

When Aggrey told this story, he used to end by saying,

“…don’t be content with the food of chickens! Stretch forth your wings and fly!”

At this, children would run excitedly around their playgrounds with arms outstretched like the wings of eagles.

This children’s book is an adaptation of Aggrey’s fable by Christopher Gregorowski. He wrote it for his dying daughter when he was working among the Xhosa-speaking people of Southern Africa as an Anglican Priest. He wanted it to help her understand that we are all born to be eagles that are lifted up by the might of the Spirit.

I bought a copy for my six-year-old nephew a while back, but ended up getting hooked to the story when I skimmed through it in the bookshop so I kept it for a reread to motivate myself (and yes, my nephew did get the book).

In its simplicity, the story continues to inspire me. It reminds me that I am not meant to scratch the ground and peck about like a chicken, but to soar with the rising sun to greater heights like an eagle.