My thanks to Dele A Sonubi for this translation into English of another poem from the verses of the Yorùbá religious corpus, Odù Ifá.
The 16 Major Odù of Ifá record the dialogues of Òrúnmìlà with each of his 16 disciples. In the following verses we hear the boastful self-praises of one of these disciples.
A Man With The Strength of Three
“I, a man with the strength of three men,
The wall that stands erect amidst raging fire,
A single elephant that rocks the jungle to its foundation,
I, who traverse across hills and slopes with the ease of one who eats honey,
There is no other character-type animal like the elephant in the forest,
Neither does a bird as colourful as the peacock exist in the Savannah,
I, who flatter others as though I would measure their values for profit,
I, the enormous elephant, who can’t go anywhere without being noticed,
A courageous man whom no one dares to slap in the face,
Even if a masquerade should dare such, daemons will unmask him!
People eye the Partridge hungrily, as though it would be prepared in an okra stew delicacy,
Fortunately, it is the bird’s guardian spirit that saves it from such fate,
The barbecue fire which was prepared to roast the Vulture meat,
Will eventually be used to roast another type of meat,
For reasons that,
— No one kills the Vulture,
— No one eats the Vulture and
— No one uses the Vulture to propitiate his/her guardian spirit,
He who predicts and eagerly awaits the descend of the butterfly
will watch as it soars unreachably into the bush,
Take heed, I am gone…
For the knitting needle would have passed through the fabrics
before its thread encounters any obstruction!”
Here is the same verse in the original Yorùbá.
“Èmi okùnrin méta,
Iná njó, ògiri ò sá,
Òkan soso Àjànàkú tí n m’igbó kìji kìji
Èmi tí n gùn’kè sòkalè bí eni tí n lá’yin!
Eranko bí Erin kò sí nígbó,
Béèni eye bí Òkín kò sí l’ódàn,
Èmi omo até’ni bí ajé,
Èmi, Àjànàkú t’ó kọ já mo rí nkan fìrí
Ògbójú akoni tí ò sé gbá l’étí,
B’éégún bá danwò, Ebora ní ó bo l’áso!
Ìwò tí wón w’àparò, bí k’áfi d’álá,
Àsé orí eye nhi ò p’eye.
Iná tí wón bá dá de Igún,
Eye ìmíì ni wón fi n sun,
— A kìí pa Igún,
— A kìí je Igún,
— A kìí fi Igún bo’rí,
Yó ba’lè, yó ba’lè,
ni Labalábá fi n wo’gbó
Káì… ofe, mo ti lo…,
Nítorí, abéré á lo
k’ónà okùn tó dí!”
Translation by Dele A Sonubi
from the Odù Ifá.
‘Délé A Sónúbi is a writer based in Lagos, Nigeria. He learned the art of philosophy from Professor Sophie B. Olúwolé who held a chair on African Philosophy. He researches mostly on Yorùbá indigenous drive, particularly the Yorùbá religion, oral legacies, and socialization principles through Yorùbá culture and its practices. He is utterly flabbergasted and fascinated by the sheer sagacity of the words and proverbs in the Yorùbá language, particularly when they are translated from Yorùbá to English. As a result, he is always eager to engage in exchanges over the enhanced meaning of Yorùbá phrases and world views.