Another Igbo Folktale Introit
Storyteller: Enwere akuko m ga akoro unu (There’s a tale I wish to tell you all)
Audience: Koro anyi ka obi di anyi mma! (Tell us, so that we can be happy!)
Storyteller: I welcome you all again.
The Igbo folklore tradition allows each storytelling session to start with various utterances to draw the audience to the story world. There could be several reasons for this but I assume that while waiting, the audience might have engaged in other discussions. So to bring everybody’s attention back the storyteller has to start with enticing words.
In many scenarios like this one, the storyteller offers a story to the audience, promising a good tale. The audience replies with optimism, revealing how the stories bring them joy. Both parties love what they do. The storyteller and his audience collaboratively work to set up a scene where the stories are told with no distractions and breakaway discussions.
You’ll agree that the Tortoise is the main player in Igbo folklore. He has taken roles of villains and heroes as well.
We shall end the discussion with a short folktale. Please reckon that it’s a wrong habit to reveal a tale’s morals before the end of the tale. So get comfortable, read and take in the morals that follow. Ifochakpi!
The Gullible Sheep, Hungry Lion & Shrewd Tortoise
Storyteller: A long-time ago in the animal kingdom, a wandering sheep saw a crying lion trapped in a cage. The lion begged it to save him with a promise not to eat it but the sheep refused. After much persuasion and for the sheep’s gullibility it helped the lion.
Now the lion was hungry having stayed in the cage for days without food. The lion quickly grabbed the sheep to eat but the sheep reminded him of his promise. They were arguing when other animals came passing by. The passersby sought to know what happened. Both the lion and sheep narrated their stories but because of fear of the lion, all the animals took sides with him except the tortoise who claimed not to understand the whole scenario.
Now the tortoise asked the lion to show them where he was before the sheep rescued him. The lion pointed at the cage. He asked again, “were you inside or outside when the sheep arrived?” The lion said he was inside. The tortoise said, “ok, go back inside, let’s see how difficult it could be inside.” The lion entered and the tortoise locked him back inside.
In amazement, the other animals asked the tortoise the “why” and he replied, “if we allow him to eat the sheep today, he will still go hungry tomorrow and we don’t know the next amongst us to be eaten tomorrow.”
The moral of this short tale is never to support evil when it doesn’t affect you directly, tomorrow it could be your turn.