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Yoruba Folk Tale


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Every day the animals would gather round the water, where they would hold council in important matters and then share jokes with each other. There was the elephant, antelope, buffalo, and sometimes even the lion would come to rest and chat. There was another creature that would come to the water sometimes too, but everyone would laugh at him, tell him how silly he is, and that he is a coward for hiding in trees all day making noise, yelling out nonsense stories. His name was Ijapa, he was a little monkey. One day Ijapa had enough of the insults and made a challenge to the other animals. He told the lion that he would not challenge him because Ijapa respected him as king. He then told the others, that it would then only be proper to challenge the largest among them, so he challenged elephant. Elephant let out a loud bellows in both anger and laughter. He told Ijapa that he would he would crush him. It was agreed upon that the fight would take place noon the next day.


The animals all gathered in a circle and Elephant and Ijapa were in the center. Elephant began to charge Ijapa, but every time Ijapa would swiftly run under Elephant. Feeling humiliated his anger grew and Elephant lowered his tusks to gore Ijapa. As he did Ijapa jumped up on the tusk and hopped onto Elephants head. Ijapa began laughing at Elephant and taunting him. Elephant moved around furiously trying to shake Ijapa. While Elephant was shaking and circling, the others began to laugh at Elephant. With all the commotion they did not see Ijapa grab a coconut he had hidden in a tree. Ijapa had added red color to the coconut milk. Ijapa began to hit Elephant on the head with the coconut, it broke on the second strike and Elephant heard the loud crack and saw the red liquid running down his head. Elephant fell to the ground and began to weep, "Ijapa has cracked my skull and now I will slowly bleed to death." At this point the other animals had realized the trick that Ijapa had played and they laughed. Ijapa left without saying a word.


The next day Ijapa came to the water and announced that he had food for everyone. Curious, they all followed him and found that he had prepared a special soup for all the animals. Ijapa had made a ladle and he poured out soup for everyone. Then Elephant spoke, "truly Ijapa, you are wise, both a trickster and one who knows the ways to our hearts. I will always listen to your stories you yell out from the tree tops". From that day on Ijapa would use his magic ladle and the animals would ask him for advice. --- Yoruba Tale called, "Ijapa's Magic Ladle".

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