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What the forest told me


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Studies of Yoruba culture and performance tend to focus mainly on standardised forms of performance, and ignore the more prevalent performance culture which is central to everyday life. What the Forest Told Me conveys the elastic nature of African cultural expression through narratives of the Yoruba hunters' exploits. Hunters' narratives provide a window on the Yoruba understanding and explanation of their world; a cosmology that negates the anthropocentric view of creation. In a very literal sense, man, in this peculiar world, is an equal actor with animal and nature spirits with whom he constantly contests and negotiates space.



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Published 12 April 2019
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EAN13 9781920033439
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Oladele Olatunde Layiwola
…teacher, mentor, ideaAbout the Series
e African Humanities Series is a partnership between the African Humanities Program (AHP) of
the American Council of Learned Societies and academic publishers NISC (Pty) Ltd*. e Series
covers topics in African histories, languages, literatures, philosophies, politics and cultures.
Submissions are solicited from Fellows of the AHP, which is administered by the American Council
of Learned Societies and financially supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
e purpose of the AHP is to encourage and enable the production of new knowledge by
Africans in the five countries designated by the Carnegie Corporation: Ghana, Nigeria, South
Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. AHP fellowships support one year’s work free from teaching and
other responsibilities to allow the Fellow to complete the project proposed. Eligibility for the
fellowship in the five countries is by domicile, not nationality.
Book proposals are submitted to the AHP editorial board which manages the peer review process
and selects manuscripts for publication by NISC. In some cases, the AHP board will commission a
manuscript mentor to undertake substantive editing and to work with the author on refining the final
e African Humanities Series aims to publish works of the highest quality that will foreground
the best research being done by emerging scholars in the five Carnegie designated countries. e
rigorous selection process before the fellowship award, as well as AHP editorial vetting of
manuscripts, assures attention to quality. Books in the series are intended to speak to scholars in
Africa as well as in other areas of the world.
e AHP is also committed to providing a copy of each publication in the series to university
libraries in Africa.
*early titles in the series was published by Unisa Press, but the publishing rights to the entire series
are now vested in NISCAHP Editorial Board Members as at January 2019
AHP Series Editors:
Professor Adigun Agbaje*, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Professor Emeritus Fred Hendricks, Rhodes University, South Africa
Professor Emeritus Sandra Barnes, University of Pennsylvania, USA (Anthropology)
Board Members:
1 Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Institute of African Studies, Ghana (Gender Studies &
Advocacy) (Vice President, African Studies Association of Africa)
2 Professor Kofi Anyidoho, University of Ghana, Ghana (African Studies & Literature) (Director,
Codesria African Humanities Institute Program)
3 Professor Ibrahim Bello-Kano, Bayero University, Nigeria (Dept of English and French Studies)
4 Professor Sati Fwatshak, University of Jos, Nigeria (Dept of History & International Studies)
5 Professor Patricia Hayes, University of the Western Cape, South Africa (African History, Gender
Studies and Visuality) (SARChI Chair in Visual History and Theory)
6 Associate Professor Wilfred Lajul, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Makerere University,
Uganda (Dept of Philosophy)
7 Professor Yusufu Lawi, University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania (Dept of History)
8 Professor Bertram Mapunda, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (Dept of Archaeology &
Heritage Studies)
9 Professor Innocent Pikirayi, University of Pretoria, South Africa (Chair & Head, Dept of
Anthropology & Archaeology)
10 Professor Josephat Rugemalira, University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania (Dept of Foreign
Languages & Linguistics)
11 Professor Idayat Bola Udegbe, University of Ibadan, Nigeria (Dept of Psychology)
*replaced Professor Kwesi Yankah, Cental Univerity College, Ghana, co-editor from 2013–2016Published in this series
Dominica Dipio, Gender terrains in African cinema, 2014
Ayo Adeduntan, What the forest told me: Yoruba hunter, culture and narrative performance, 2014
Sule E. Egya, Nation, power and dissidence in third-generation Nigerian poetry in English, 2014
Irikidzayi Manase, White narratives: The depiction of post-2000 land invasions in Zimbabwe, 2016
Pascah Mungwini, Indigenous Shona Philosophy: Reconstructive insights, 2017
Sylvia Bruinders, Parading Respectability: e Cultural and Moral Aesthetics of the Christmas Bands
Movement in the Western Cape, South Africa, 2017
Michael Andindilile, e Anglophone literary-linguistic continuum: English and indigenous
languages in African literary discourse, 2018
Jeremiah Arowosegbe, Claude E Ake: the making of an organic intellectual, 2018
Romanus Aboh, Language and the construction of multiple identities in the Nigerian novel, 2018
Bernard Matolino, Consensus as Democracy in Africa, 2018
Babajide Ololajulo, Unshared Identity: Posthumous paternity in a contemporary Yoruba community,
2018...a story that must be told never forgives silence.
– Okey Ndibe Originally published in 2014 by Unisa Press, South Africa
under ISBN: 978-1-86888-739-2
This edition published in South Africa on behalf of the African Humanities Program by NISC (Pty)
Ltd, PO Box 377, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa
NISC first edition, first impression 2019
Publication © African Humanities Program 2014, 2019
Text © Ayo Adeduntan 2014, 2019
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by
any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage
or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

ISBN: 978-1-920033-41-5 (print)
ISBN: 978-1-920033-42-2 (PDF)
ISBN: 978-1-920033-43-9 (ePub)
Project Editor: Tshegofatso Sehlodimela
Book Designer: Kedibone Phiri
Editor: Gail Malcomson
Typesetting: Nozipho Noble
Indexer: Hannalie Knoetze

The author and the publisher have made every effort to obtain permission for and acknowledge the
use of copyright material. Should an inadvertent infringement of copyright have occurred, please
contact the publisher and we will rectify omissions or errors in any subsequent reprint or edition.̀
C o n t e n t s
List of Plates & Tables
1 Hunter, Hunting and a Yoruba World
Igbẹ Alagogo: A glimpse into the hunters’ world
Folklore and redefinition of performance
Scope and methodology
2 Art, the Hunter’s World and the Death of Fixity
The performance art of hunters’ narratives
Ìbà (Acknowledgement and appeal)
Ofò incantation
Ìjala, Iremọje and the hunter’s allergy to fixity
Conceptualising narrativity between fact and fiction
3 The Hunter and the Other
Dualism, African cultural discourse, and the hunter
Man the hunter and the supernatural
Forest the indeterminate
4 Negotiating the Formidable
The hunter, the Other and the limits of man
Familiarisation and defamiliarisation
Truth, mythmaking and management of credibility risk
Language and the portrait of anOther world
5 The Hunter on the Airwaves
The ethic of silence and the imperative of narrativity
Broadcast media and the ‘sin’ of narrative reconstruction
Appendix A: The narrative of Músílíù Àlàgbé Fìríàáríkú
Appendix B: The narrative of Rábíù Òjó
Appendix C: The narrative of Jọògún Àlàdé
Appendix D: The narrative of Ògúnkúnlé Òjó
Appendix E: The narrative of Oláníyì Oládèjo Yáwóo ré
Appendix F: The narrative of Kọbọmọjẹ Àlàdé
List of Plates & Tables
Plate 1.1: The A l a g o g o boy (left) and his friends making a night round
Plate 1.2: Participants converge as a family arrives on a motorbike
Plate 1.3: The A l a g o g o gives his blessing and declares the day’s expedition open
Plate 1.4: Ògúnjìmí
Plate 1.5: Jóògún
Plate 1.6: Oláògún
Plate 1.7: Ògúndélé
Plate 1.8: Ògúnlékè
Plate 1.9: Balóde Lawal Ògúntúndé (left)
Plate 1.10: Balóde Òtún Làsísì (seated, right)
Plate 1.11: Julius Òkèlolá
Plate 2.1: Kólá T i r i m i s i y u Akíntáyò (second from left) organises Ògún worship and festival,
ÒkéÀdó, Ibadan
Plate 2.2: Immolating the dog during Akíntáyo’s festival
Plate 2.3: Lawal Oguntunde’s Ogun shrine
Plate 2.4: The outer wall of Oguntunde’s home
Plate 3.1: Moses Ògúnwálé displays his memorabilia
Plate 3.2: Ásìmíyù Ògúndépò Pabíekùn shows the gourdlet the spirit gave him
Plate 3.3: Tàfá Àlàdé and audience on Odẹtẹdo
Plate 3.4: Tàfá Àlàdé on Odẹtẹdo
Plate 4.1: Pabíekùn (right) performing his narrative while Báyò Adébòwálé (background) interjects
with flute and Kólá Akíntáyò (left) listens
Plate 4.2: Ògúnwálé (right) performing while Akíntáyò (left) listens
Table 4.1: Some terms the hunters usẹ
A c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s
These acknowledgements, like all attempts at paying bad debts, are not a successful catalogue of
all the individuals and institutions to whom I owe the final completion of this work; the limitation
of human memory always moderates one’s desire to write such a roll.
I am grateful to the American Council Learned Societies for the African Humanities
Postdoctoral Fellowship award which allowed me the facilities needed to complete the manuscript
for this book.
The immensity of Dele Layiwola’s advisory and mentoring efforts transcends the immediate
attainment of publishing a book. His presence is such that never leaves.
Sola Olorunyomi (Uncle Éss; Bàmi) was a prime accessory to the beginning of this work as a
PhD research. With precision of a sorcerer, he would ‘intrude’ whenever I was in dire need of a
helping hand. He sometimes went to such extent as ‘looting’ his wife’s kitchen to provision mine.
His interventions in those blue moments were so numerous that it was only sensible to stop saying
‘thank you’.
It was in a climate conducive to interrogation and rebellion, provided by the entire family of the
Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, that this work began and came to fruition.
Ohioma Pogoson was generous with encouragement and humour that made the most trying
moments seem like trivia. The avuncular counsel and goodwill of O.B. Olaoba and P.B. Unuofin
were invaluable. Isaac Olawale Albert, I.A. Jimoh, Aderonke Adesanya, Titus K. Adekunle, Wale
Ajayi and Remi Aduradola nudged me when necessary.
Rotimi Babatunde is both a reliable friend and an entirely unwise creditor. In 2006, the
processing of some of the data used in this work wrecked his computer. He also intervened
materially at crucial moments. And Kunle Okesipe is neither wiser. He often yielded too easily to
blackmail and would empty his pockets to give all or to prove that there was no salary yet. Those
two are kindred spirits that have haunted me for close to two decades.
Friend and ‘tormentor’ from childhood, Honourable Tunde Ojo, put vehicle and personnel at
my disposal during my trips to Oke-Ogun sites. As an informant, his cues were so numerous and
equally so tempting that it was often difficult to choose final samples.
My mum, Bernice Aderoju, never really gave up on her restless and footloose son who, instead
of working and ‘settling down’, went about with camera and voice recorder collecting weird and
wild stories. My friend Folake Oladeji, and my sisters, Leye and Sade, generously forgave
recurring stress-induced withdrawal and tantrums, and continued to show the needed love and
In my perennial search for information, the following family of friends never tired at pointing
out where to get what and helping with last-minute clarification: Messrs Abiodun Fadiji
(Ordinary), Dapo Odetunde (Akala), Ayodele Abiodun (Engineer), Femi Egbebowale (Omo Egbe),
Adekunle Onifade (Sir K), Gbenga Kehinde (Ilora), Segun Taiwo (Sigo), E.B. Adumaradan (Ijesa)
and Ademola Joseph (Yellow). I am grateful to the authorities of the Broadcasting Corporation of
Oyo State (BCOS) for the permission granted me to observe live broadcasts and access recorded
ones. Initially, Tope Salawu of BCOS facilitated my meeting with Mrs Dasola Akinlabi and Mr
Lekan Babatunde, producers of Odẹ Akọni and Odétèdó respectively. My debt to Kola Akintayo,
Olabisi George Gbamolefa, and Yahya Lateef, who volunteered to be my informants in Oyo and
Osun States without charge, is enormous. I am no less grateful to Mrs Akinlabi and Mr Babatunde
for guidance and information. The hunters who provided me the data and insights are just too
numerous to list.
My residency at the International Institute for the Advanced Studies of Cultures, Institutions