Hello folks thanks for joining us on today’s edition of #folktaleswednesday the platform where we share wisdom from fairytales of the Yoruba of South West Nigeria. Today we are going to conclude the story of Ijapa and the Well from where we stopped last week. Read and enjoy it.
Tortoise, who had not participated in the digging of the well and who knew he would not be allowed to drink of the water, decided to hatch a plan to not only drink the water, but to make sure only he could drink of it. What he did was to gather plenty of gourds and use a rope to tie them together. He then waited until one day when all the other animals had gathered at the well, then he began to bang the gourds together so that the made an unnatural rattling sound.As he did that he also began to to sing:
“If I meet an elephant at the well I will crush it.
If I meet a buffalo at the well I will crush it
I will tear their limbs
And use them to beat the water”
The song and the unnatural sound made by the rattling gourds scared all the animals and they took to their heels. Tortoise was thus able to fetch as much water as he wanted. This went on for a while so the animals called for an emergency meeting on how to combat this latest crisis. At the meeting, the animals all agreed that one of them ought to face the monster that was denying them the use of their well. but they could not agree on who would do so, because none of them was brave enough to face the this “beast.” The argument went back and forth and the whole assembly nearly descended into a uproar. At last Rabbit who had not said anything since the assembly started raised his hand. The chairman noticed him and called for order. Rabbit, once he realized he had the floor, said: “fellow animals we should not quarrel over this. I think I have a solution to this problem, but at the risk of sounding disrespectful, because there might be spies among us so I will only tell the chairman and a few other people who can be trusted. Thank you very much.”
The other animals didn’t care if the rabbit was keeping his cards close to his chest. They just wanted a solution to the problem at hand. They all unanimously gave Rabbit the go ahead. After the assembly of the animals had dispersed Rabbit went and discussed his plan with Lion. Lion also agreed it was a good plan, and told Rabbit to go ahead with it. Rabbit then went into the forest, cut down a tree, and from there carved an lifelike image of a human being. This took him seven days to finish. Then he slathered the image with a sticky material and placed it on the path to the well. Of course no other animal apart from Tortoise had gone to the well in the meantime, so there was no chance the trap the trap would catch anyone else other than its intended target.
That day, Tortoise came to the well as usual to fetch his daily supply of water. Since the other animals no longer came to the well he no longer need to sing his scary song or bang his gourds. He was about to fetch his first pot of water when he noticed a pair of unwavering eyes staring at him. He turned to see the statue. “Who are you, and what are you doing here?” demanded the Tortoise. The statue did not answer.That angered the Tortoise who continued “Are you deaf, Is it not you that I am talking to?” When no reply came. Tortoise moved threatening towards the creature, “If you don’t open your mouth and tell me who you are and why you are staring at me this minute, I will show you who I am.” When the statue still did not reply. Tortoise stormed over to where the statue stood and slapped it hard. When he tried to pull his hand away, he found that his hand was stuck. “leave me alone this minute, or I will hit you with my other hand, and I pack a bigger punch in it than this one.” Tortoise demanded angrily. He hit the statue with his other hand and it stuck too. Then Tortoise kicked the statue in an effort to dislodge his hands, but his leg also got stuck. It was then that Tortoise realized he was he trouble. He began the statue “please I am sorry I was rude to you, now let me go. I promise I will just fetch my water and leave, I will not be rude to you anymore, infact I will stay away from this well for as long as you are still here.” The statue did not answer and Tortoise remained stuck. The other animals soon came and saw the Tortoise stuck to the statue, they realized he had been the one terrorizing them and preventing them from using their well. The Lion ordered Tortoise to be taken away and punished severely for his crime.