Hello folks, it is nice to have you on #FolktalesWednesday again this week. Today, Ijapa, the tortoise, is back with another of his escapades. We hope that everyone, both old and young life can pick one or two life lessons from this Yoruba folktale titled Tortoise and Orisa Oko, the deity of the farms. Read and enjoy it as usual.
Once upon a time, in a town not too far away, Ijapa, the tortoise, and Orisa Oko, the god of the farms lived as friends. Orisa Oko was a hardworking farmer who planted large farms and reaped bountiful harvests all the time. He was easily the most popular farmer in the town, and market women and members of the community were always eager to buy his produce. Ijapa, his friend, also had his own farm, where he planted crops from time. But Ijapa’s farm never produced as much as Orisa Oko’s farms.
So one day Ijapa went to the Orisa Oko’s house to find out why this was happening. He said accusingly to Orisa Oko: “You call yourself my friend, and we are both farmers. I work harder in my farm than you do in yours, so how come all your farms are flourishing so much, yet I can barely feed my family from the only farm that I have? Surely you must have something you use to enhance your crop yield. If you want us to remain friends, you will tell me your secret.”
Orisa Oko answered him, “Why would my farms not flourish? I am the deity of the farms, every farmer has to come to me if he wants his farm to yield bountiful crops. Since you asked, let me tell you that every farmer in this town comes to me for help from time to time. When I give them instructions, they listen carefully and do everything I tell them. However you Ijapa are stubborn and cannot keep a secret that is why I have chosen not to help you with your farm.” Ijapa replied: “You call yourself my friend, yet you make a damning and untrue assessment of my character. If I was this terrible, why have you remained my friend for all these years?” He paused for a moment and then continued “I promise that I will listen to everything to say, if you help me.” “Alright,” Orisa Oko sighed “because you are my friend, I will give you a special gift that I have never given to anybody before.” He went inside his house and brought out a calabash seed. He handed it to Ijapa and said: “If you follow my instructions on how to use this seed properly, your farm will flourish more than that of every other farmer in this town. However, if you do not listen to everything I tell you about this gourd and you misuse it, you will only find yourself to blame.” He watched Ijapa’s face for a reaction, but found none so he continued “ You will plant this seed in the middle of your farm. You must fast for a whole day on the day you want to plant this seed, because it works best if the planter has no food in his stomach at the time of planting it.” Tortoise thanked Orisa Oko for his help and went home.
When Tortoise got home, however, he started grumbling to himself “This Orisa Oko is a wicked and cruel being. Why must he punish me with hunger just because I asked him for help? To think he is my friend and he knows I love food so much? I will plant the seed without fasting, I want to see what will happen.” So the next morning he ate his breakfast as usual and then went to his farm to plant the calabash seed. A few weeks later, The calabash sprouted just as Orisa Oko had promised Ijapa it would, but instead of it to make the farm flourish, it only killed all of the crops in it. That made Ijapa angry, he declared in anger “You stupid calabash plant, I planted you in order to make my farm flourish, instead you have killed all my crops, I will not rest till I cut you down.”
So the next day, Ijapa, determined to make good on his threat, headed to the farm to cut down the calabash plant. No sooner had he cut the first calabash fruit of the tree, that the calabash upped and began to chase the tortoise. Tortoise took to his heels, screaming for help as he ran, the calabash hot on his heels…
…..TO BE CONTINUED…..
Did Ijapa survive this chase? what did Orisa Oko do about the calabash from hell chasing Ijapa? Watch out for the ending of the story. coming to the blog next week. Meanwhile make sure to continue to follow the blog for more high quality content