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An artistic excursion into African folklores

By Folu Agoi

IJAPA and Friends, is the second of England-based Adefemi Adebajo’s series of tortoise stories drawn from the vast repertoire of Yoruba folklore. Published in 2013, in the United Kingdom, by El Roi Publications Limited, Ijapa and Friends, one of the most recent story books plotted on the hub of trickster tales – tortoise tales, comprises 14 fables (each assigned about six pages), spread across 14 chapters. These are inextricably linked by a dominant character named Ijapa – Yoruba word for tortoise, ‘the cunning and wise tortoise’, according to the blurb on the back of the publication, who is ‘always getting into trouble’ as seen in virtually all the stories in the volume.

They include: ‘Ijapa Meets the In-Laws’ – in which Ijapa conceals steaming pottage stolen from his future in-laws’ kitchen under his cap and gets his head burnt in the process, ‘The Herbalist’ – in which Ijapa finds his stomach swelling after consuming the pregnancy potion meant for Yanibo, his barren wife, and ‘Trouble on the Farm’ – in which Ijapa is caught stealing from his benefactor’s farm, a plot replicated in ‘Chameleon Discovers a Secret’. Others include ‘Ijapa Gate Crashes a Party’, ‘Ijapa Gets Caught Again!’, ‘Monkey Business’ and ‘Ijapa Mediates a Fight’.

The stories, mostly spiced up with hyperbolic elements, apparently applied for emphasis and embellishment, humour, dialogues, musical backing – songs, drumming – and other dramatic condiments, are set in the animal kingdom, ruled by the lion, populated by animals brought to life through anthropomorphism – or personification, like Giant Ant seen strolling along with his hands in his pockets and his pipe dangling out of his mouth, later looking around from under his hat brim to make sure no one was watching him.


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