Tuesday, April 23, 2024


Iwa Af’owo Fa (YORUBA)

(An evergreen counsel from the late Yoruba author, poet, educationist, politician, and statesman, Chief J.F. Odunjo. This cautionary poetry comes from one of Odunjo’s famous series, Alawiye.)

Eda ti yio ba fa ‘jongbon,

Bi a ba daa lekun, se ko ni i gbo,

Ohun t’o fe se nii kaa l’ara.

Aye gb’ekulu odan,

O nfe n’ipon l’aya bi ira,

Olowo jeun yo tan, o nwa-ku ki’ri.

Ire yo tan, o be ra re n’ikun,

Aya yo tan, o nse kondu-kondu s’oko,

Aye gba ‘wofa tan,

O npe olowo re ni were,

Omo yo tan, o npe baba l’eranko.

Oya yo tan, o nwo ode sun-un l’akitan,

O ni ki aja ode o maa ka’lo,

Se oro ko dun gboro,

Bi a fe e ni aaro a si ru l’ale.

Esin yo tan, o nta olowo re ni kete,

Afo’pina sun ara re jo reu-reu,

Omo ina ni i wo ina lo fun’ra won.

Ta’bi e ko mo pe ise ki i wa eniyan?

Eni t’o nlo wa ise l’o nfe’yonu.

Osi nta aja, o npo ara re mo eeru,

Osi nta ewu ala, o mba epo wo iya ija,

Osi nta elede, o f’ara s’ekuru de’le jigbini,

Oluwa k’o so ni lowo ori inu eni.

Iwa af’owo’fa nii fa osi f’eda;

Iku t’o npa olukaluku l’aye,

O nbe l’orun ara won.


The one who would initiate conflicts,

Is never pleased when we appease him,

What he wants to do exhilarates him.

Deer flourishes in the prairie,

And craves a broad chest like a horse,

The rich eats to his full, and searches for death everywhere.

Cricket eats to its full, and ruptures its own abdomen,

The wife eats to her full, and disrespects her husband,

The pawn becomes unrestricted,

And calls his master a deranged person,

The child eats to his full, and calls his father an animal.

The hedgehog eats to its full, gazes cheekily at the hunter by the dunghill,

And dares the hunter’s dog to follow.

Pumpkin is not pacified by words,

Like it (or not) in the morning, it would sprout in the evening.

The horse eats to its full, and spurs its owner,

The moth burns itself into ashes,

The offshoot of a fire burns deep inside the fire.

Don’t you know that misery doesn’t seek humans?

It is he who seeks misery who desires anguish.

The wretched dog dips itself in ashes,

The wretched white-garment enters into a somber fight with palm oil,

The wretched pig embeds itself in the miry earth,

May God deliver us from the debauched thoughts on our minds.

It is self-affliction that invites paucity for humans;

What kills every mortal,

Hangs around the neck of everyone.

IMAGE: Later version of JF Odunjo’s popular series, Alawiye.


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