Numerous myths and animal fables are told in Things Fall Apart. Most of them have deep symbolic significance, both on a personal and a political level. One such fable appears in chapter 9, when Okwonko is trying hard to get some much-needed sleep a couple of days after the brutal murder of Ikemefuna. But he's unable to do so as he's being bugged by a mosquito.
It's then that he remembers a tale that his mother used to tell him when he was a child. The story is supposed to provide a mythological answer to the question of why it is that mosquitoes always buzz around people's ears. Once upon a time, a mosquito fell head over heels in love with Ear and wanted to marry her. But Ear wasn't interested; she made fun of the mosquito for his frail body and short lifespan. So the mosquito swore revenge, vowing that, from now on, every time a mosquito passes by an ear, he will buzz against it as a reminder that he's still alive.
Although Okwonkwo dismisses the fable as a silly women's tale, it has greater personal and cultural significance than he's prepared to acknowledge. The fact that he remembers the tale from all those years ago, shows not just the importance of stories and fables in this society, but also the way that a woman in a male-dominated society can influence and shape the formative development of her children through the act of story-telling.