Ekoñ Ñke… Moral lessons from Ibibio folklores

EKOÑ Ñke – Our Stories is a collection of exciting and breath-taking folktales, which touch the lives not just those of African descent but all humanity. In the world of these folktales, human beings and animals are used as protagonists. They are seen as equal and active inhabitants of an earth striving to live in harmony.

The stories are set in an environment, which though not stated, is unequivocally Nigeria or Africa. This is an environment, which is yet to benefit from modern inventions such as electricity, tarred roads or telephones. Despite this, the inhabitants of these unnamed communities enjoy a great sense of bonding and care for each other.

Although the book is written in simple English, there are spices of Ibibio words, which are readily explained with the help of a glossary. The book is also rich in riddles and proverbs, which highlight the depth of the thought pattern and the richness of the spoken words among the people.

One character that plays a predominant role in African folklore is the tortoise. This animal, despite its unusual shape and size, is regarded as the chief trickster. This trait is a double-edged sword: it gets others out of trouble and Tortoise gets consumed by his enterprise. Tortoise is therefore dubbed ‘the chief trickster’ in one of the stories. And he pays dearly for his mischief.

We need to remember that despite the dramatic changes in the world the laws governing life and the universe haven’t changed. They have remained—whether we acknowledge them or not. Two of these laws, which resonate through are evil cannot triumph over good and a man reaps what he sows.

The stories teach us lessons on the benefits of communal living, which is fast fading in our society. We learn about the essence of love, honesty, hard work, peace, bravery and sympathy to others. The stories use both animals and people as protagonists, to depict the core values of Ibibio people and by extension the core values necessary for all mankind.

The stories highlight the desirable and undesirable characteristics of people and animals. There is no room for an evil-doer to escape punishment. They teach lessons on what is morally acceptable. We practically witness the consequences of greed, pride, selfishness, inordinate ambition and covetousness. Vices such as stealing, disobedience, corruption, wickedness are not condoned. This book has a rich glossary and is well-illustrated.

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