A long, long while ago, while the world was young and animals spoke and walked like men do, Ijapa the tortoise was a wily trickster and always got himself and his friends into one form of trouble or the other.
This is the story of Ijapa and his friend, the monkey.
It all started when Ijapa got fed up with his friend Obo, the monkey. Whenever they got together to eat, as they were fond of doing every opportunity they had, Ijapa would always pray but the monkey never said “Amin”. Ijapa found this offensive but try as he might, he could not get Obo to say amin. After all, Obo reasoned, your prayer is quite enough for the both of us.
Ijapa would often warn him not to take prayers with such levity, that perhaps one day nemesis would catch up with him. Obo would sniffle and giggle and climb trees yelling about how he was too smart and fast to be in any sort of trouble, unlike the slow tortoise. In those days, the monkey spent quite a lot of time roaming on the ground and only took to the trees when there was any sign of danger.
Ijapa, never one to take such insults lightly, resolved in his heart to teach the silly monkey a lesson.
One day, Ijapa decided he had had enough of this routine, and so he went off to the market, and after roaming about a bit, was able to buy a large amount of akara to take home.
Akara is a special bean cake delicacy of the Yoruba people of Nigeria, west Africa.
Next he went into the forest, into the home of the honey bees, and with a push here and a pull there, he was also able to secure himself a few large honeycombs dripping with delicious honey.
With these two items, he went home, stored some of the akara in a basket, and soaked them in the honey for a bit. Then he took a few balls of honeyed akara and went to a road where he knew he was sure to find the last essential ingredient for his diabolical plan- Kiniun the lion.
In those days Kiniun was a rather hot-headed fellow, easily misled and more blessed with brawn than with brains.
Ijapa went whistling and nibbling on honeyed akara and it wasn’t too long when he came across Kiniun.
Kiniun had been lying in wait for some unlucky animal to pounce on and so when he saw Ijapa, he crouched and sprung. Quick as a flash, Ijapa retreated into his shell, and try as he might, Kiniun was unable to get at him.
When he had calmed down enough, he heard the sound of continued munching come out of Ijapa’s shell. With his stomach rumbling, Kiniun asked him what he was feasting on.
Instead of answering, Ijapa pushed out a single ball. Kiniun snapped it up and swallowed, smacking his lips enthusiastically.
“Delicious! He declared. Where did you get this?” Ijapa pushed out another ball.
Kiniun snapped it up again.
Ijapa replied. “If I tell you, you’d kill me.”
“No I won’t,” replied Kiniun “just tell me where to get some.”
“I got it from my friend Obo.”
“The monkey? I must get some at once!”
“Wait a minute! He doesn’t give it willingly. You have to grab him by the neck and shake him really hard, yelling at the top of your voice for him to excrete sweet droppings.”
More munching and swallowing sounds.
“He might disobey you the first or second time, but if you keep at it, he’ll eventually give you a lot of it. Just be careful so you don’t kill him or we won’t get anything tomorrow. And whatever happens, never tell him I sent you, or I won’t tell you how to get the sweet drink that goes perfectly with this.”
Quite thankful, the lion left Ijapa and with further advice, proceeded to seek the monkey out. Sneaking behind him as per Ijapa’s instructions, he was able to snatch the monkey by the neck. Squeezing so tight the monkey was sure he would die, Kiniun yelled
“EXCRETE SWEET DROPPINGS!”
Scared as he was, it wasn’t a problem for the monkey to do this. Kiniun out a finger in, tasted it and found it not to his liking. Well he had been warned that Obo would prove stubborn, so he shook him again.
“EXCRETE SWEET DROPPINGS!”
This went on for a while till Obo was close to death and had nothing to excrete anymore. Concluding that the monkey had probably run out of sweet droppings, Kiniun let him go, content to try again another time.
Later on, Ijapa came by and met his friend thoroughly harassed and hiding in the branches of a tree.
“What happened?” He asked and Obo explained to him the day’s events. Ijapa then berated him, blaming it on his refusal to say “Amin” to prayers.
“You see? Nemesis has caught up with you.” Shocked, Obo started yelling Amin, and till today, it remains one of the common sounds uttered by monkeys in the rainforests of Africa.