Significance of Trickster in Igbo Folktales in Education of TheChild: A Lesson to all Nigerians


Janet U. Ogbalu

Folktale is universal. It is found in all parts of the world. One of the outstanding characteristics of folktale is the possession of trickster. Trickster has different name in the tales of different ethnic groups of the world. In Hausa,he is “ereke”, in Yorubahe is “ijapa”, in Ashanti (Ghana) he is “ananse”, in Trinidad, he is fox, in other parts of Europe, he is either rabbit, monkey or hare etc. A trickster is often something of a rogue. He manages to extricate himself from intrigue and sometimes saves himself from dangerous situation by a display of mental ability. The trickster of the folktales of the Igbo people of Nigeria is tortoise ‘Mbe’. Tortoise is not an outstanding animal. In the case of gathering of animals, he would least be noticed. There are large, ferocious, and beautiful animals that would make the presence of tortoise unnoticed. But when it comes to folktales, tortoise is the smallest among the characters. He so much defeats other characters by his deceptions. His greatest weapon is lies. Most of Igbo folktales are moral tales. They teach moral, yet trickster plays prominent role in the tales of Igbo people. In other words trickster is used in the education of the young. The writer investigated to find reasons for such development through reading books and journals relating to the topic.She studied six Igbo folktales and also through oral interviews of some prominent Igbo people of ages ranging from 20-70 yrs of age. The writer found out amongst other things that Igbo world view on life is responsible to the use of tricksters in their education of theyoung.


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