Dialogue 4: Assumed Folk Characters

Otii/Oyoo & Assumed Folk Characters

Storyteller: Otii!

Audience: Oyoo!!

Storyteller: Some Igbo communities start their folklore session in that manner. This could be the equivalent of Ifochakpi and would usually be repeated until the audience shouts the loudest. What I do know is that the ifo in ifochakpi means tale in the Igbo language. The remaining part chakpi is still not known. I am still searching for its origin and meaning. As for otii and oyoo, they are just exclamations used to draw and keep the attention of the audience.

In African folklore, animals have attributed characters founded on their natural appearance. I like to call these assumed folk characters. Take, for instance in the fable below, a dull-looking animal like the donkey is seen as a fool. Likewise, animals displaying strength like the lion and elephants take up royalty and warrior identities respectively. The spider, birds of prey and cats are perceived as fast and wise. Most times, it’s the tortoise that assumes several characters in various tales. He might be a cobbler, farmer, warrior and even a king!

Let’s consider the fable. It is about the futility of unnecessary arguments.


Audience: Waa!!

The Donkey, Rabbit and Lion

One day the donkey walked up to the rabbit and said, “The grass is blue.” The rabbit replied: “No, the grass is green.”

The discussion heated up and the two decided to refer the argument to the king. In no time they were before the lion, who was the jungle king.

Now before they could reach the king’s palace, the donkey started to shout: “Your Highness, is grasses not blue?” “True. It is blue.” The lion answered.

The donkey went further: “The rabbit disagrees with me and annoys me as well. Please punish him!”

The lion then declared the rabbit would be punished with five years of silence. The donkey was happy and left. He was heard repeating that the grass is blue on his way home. The rabbit approached the king and asked why he was being punished when the grasses are green.

“The grass is green.” The lion agreed. “So why punish me?” Asked the rabbit. “The punishment has nothing to do with the grass being green or blue. It is because you stooped so low to waste your time arguing with the donkey!” The king answered.

Arguing with people who don’t care about evidence is like pouring water on a stone. It can’t retain. Never waste time on meaningless arguments. When ignorance screams, intelligence is silent. Peace is worth more than winning unnecessary arguments.