Elenpe’s Head

13 Feb

The story I am about to tell you ensued while I was having a hearty e-conversation with an online friend. We usually trade banters and believe me, she is a profound and passionate person when it comes to conversations. I am usually wit-alert when it comes to her, now you may want to ask what the conversation was about this time and why am writing it?

All I can tell you is that I used a word which had a completely different meaning from what I intended to express and she had formed an opinion before I could explain. When I finally could get my meaning across, she responded by telling me this story. Please read on:

Some centuries back in not so far away land of Oyo kingdom, there lived a wizard by name, Elenpe. Now Elenpe was feared by all but he and the king traded banters a lot and it seemed they were both comfortable with it. But one day, in one of his conversations with the Alaafin, he casually said; “igba wuwo ju awo lo”. Translated: “Calabash is heavier than a porcelain dish”, a statement the Alaafin disputed and so an argument ensued. Now the argument got so bad, and you know you don’t engage a king in an argument that may make him look stupid, and here we are talking about the Alaafin in an argument!

Elenpe stuck to his guns and Alaafin also would not yield, in anger witnesses were called to establish which one of the two was right. Everybody, and this stands to reason too, agreed with the Alaafin’s position that ‘awo’, porcelain dish is heavier than ‘igba’, calabash. In anger the Alaafin sentenced Elenpe to death, He was to be beheaded immediately. Surprisingly, and even unto the last minute, Elenpe would not relent that “igba wuwo ju awo lo”.

And so he was beheaded!

The instant his head came off, it immediately got stuck to the Alaafin’s right hand. Each time the Alaafin wants to eat, Elenpe’s head-in-hand, would divert the food to its own mouth and eat it. The Alaafin started to grow lean and all efforts to get him fed were sabotaged by ‘ori Elenpe’ stuck to Alaafin’s hand. Remember Elenpe was a wizard!

The other wizards in the kingdom were then called to resolve this issue as the Alaafin by now was almost dying from starvation. Elenpe’s spirit was summoned. When asked why he was tormenting the Alaafin, he said he was unjustly beheaded. And so another argument ensued again regarding “igba wuwo ju awo lo”.

The council of wizards and everyone present told Elenpe once again, that he was wrong!

But Elenpe’s still maintained his stand! And the argument heated up so much between him and the other wizards. Exasperated, Elenpe’s spirit suddenly blurted out; “ani mo ni, igba tutu wuwo ju awo lo!” Translated: “I said a wet (freshly harvested) calabash is heavier than a porcelain dish!” Everybody exclaimed, “Ooto lo so! o ba ti salaiye bayi ki won to be o lori, Alaafin o jebi oo!” Translated: “You are right! But, you should have said this earlier before you were beheaded, the Alaafin is not wrong!

And so the Wizards appeased Elenpe’s spirit through necessary sacrifices and his head dropped off the Alaafin’s hand, because in truth, the Alaafin was right, if Elenpe had explained himself better and clearly within the context of available time, he would have been spared!

So it became a saying in old Oyo that “Ai soro yan oro, lo mu Elenpe ekini, to wipe igba wuwo ju awo lo!

Translated: “Failure to explain with clarity was what cost the first Elenpe his head when he said calabash is heavier than a porcelain dish“. While in truth what he meant was that a wet calabash is heavier than a porcelain dish.

Moral of the story: Make sure you communicate what you mean with clarity and if need be back it up with explanation even before you are asked.


Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Personal, Uncategorized


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7 responses to “Elenpe’s Head

  1. Gbemi Taiwo

    February 13, 2014 at 8:30 am

    very true. all communications must be precise and clear.

  2. Mavis

    February 13, 2014 at 9:25 am

    THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING PIECES I HAVE READ IN FOREVER. It reminds me of my childhood when granny used to tell me stories that made me a better person. I learnt so much from the story. Thank you so much sir.

  3. Ayomide Adewunmi

    February 13, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Too tooo!1E pami Sa!

  4. Oluwaremilekun

    February 13, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Yes ooo, so dat d person u’re passing ur message to wont get a wrong message. Thanks.

  5. Isha

    February 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Interesting read.

  6. Dele Ajado

    February 14, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    This is a story i’ll share with my boy and his friends, It should help them avoid getting into undue arguments. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Maryam

    February 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    While Elenpe was too stubborn, the Alaafin should not have been that ruthless to take someone’s life over a simple argument. Lack of communication or mis-communication ( if I can use that word) is at the root of most problems in every facet of life. (at work, in marriages even among family members). So, I guess the message is to make sure we clarify things that are not clear, and not jump to conclusions without giving the other party the benefit of a doubt.


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