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  • 7/30/2019 eseu mitologie engleza







    MATRIC NO: 07/15CD152





    MAY 2011.

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    . .


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    This project is dedicated to God Almighty, and to my

    parents for the love and care.

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    I give special thank to God who created me and who has

    made it possible for me to get to this stage of my life.

    My profound gratitude and appreciation goes to my

    supervisor Dr. Mrs. Ibrahim for her scholarly guidance and

    advice which greatly helped in writing this long Essay. May God

    continue to protect and lead her aright in all her endeavours.

    My thanks also goes to Dr. Alanamu for his financial

    support and for always being there.

    I say a big thank you to Tobi Olushola Rowland for his

    moral support and also financial support, God will continue to

    bless you.

    Lastly, I say thank you to my parent Mr. and Mrs. Onabiyi

    and my Junior ones Abiola and Damilola for their love and

    prayers. Thank you all and Godbless.

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    This project explores the Amos Tutuolas Palm Wine Drinkard

    in terms of its use of mythological icons. In particular, theproject seeks to explore the novel as an important artifact and aliterary product of social existence. It examines howauthencity is signified in The Palm Wine Drinkard as it iswritten by a native artist. In doing so, the project seek todemonstrate that it is an ambivalence over the value andsignificance of The Palm Wine Drinkard. Instability is alsoprovoked and acute cultural anxiety is shown in the work of anatural artist such as Amos Tutuola in this case.

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    Title Page i

    Certification ii

    Dedication iii

    Acknowledgement iv

    Abstract v

    Table of Contents vi



    1.1 The Meaning of Mythology 1

    1.2 African Belief System and Myth 5

    1.3 The Yoruba Perception of Myth 8

    1.4 The Purpose and Significance of Study 10

    1.5 Aims and Objectives 12

    1.6 Methodology 14

    1.7 Scope of Study 15

    1.8 Playwrights Autobiography 16

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    2.1 Nature of Myth 20

    2.2 The Influence of Mythology on African Creative

    Writers 44

    2.3 Essence and Function of Mythology in the African

    Society 45








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    Mythology is a collection of traditional stories that express

    the belief of values of a group of people. The stories often focus

    on human qualities such as good and evil.

    Myths often tell the story of ancestors, supernatural

    beings, heroes, gods, or goddesses with special powers

    sometimes myths try to describe aspects of customs or explain

    natural events such as the sun or lightning. These stories

    sometimes contain mythical characters such as mermaids,

    unicorn, or dragons. All cultures have some type of myths for

    example, the classical mythology of the ancient Greeks and

    Romans is familiar to most people. The stories of nature

    American people are also well known. The same myths can

    often be found in different part of the world. For example

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    creation stories related to plants, animals and people are

    common among may cultures.

    The study of myth is called mythology and myth belongs

    to the sphere of will. It does not have a single form or act

    according to the simple set of rules, either from epoch or from

    culture to culture. Most mythical stories concern divinities

    (divine beings). These divinities have supernatural powers

    powers far greater than any humans beings has. But, in spite of

    their supernatural powers, many gods, goddesses, and heroes

    of mythology have human characteristics. A number of mythical

    figures even look like human being and in many cases, the

    human qualities of the divinities reflect society idea. Good gods

    and goddesses have the qualities a society admires and evil

    ones have the qualities the society dislikes.

    An old theory, and myth that has enjoyed considerable

    vogue, holds that myth is oral narratives which explain the

    essences and sequences of ritual performances, thereby

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    preserving the memory of these elements for posterity such that

    myth is second to rituals, in terms of evolution. Myth is usually

    divided into two groups, the creation and explanatory myths.

    Creation myths try to explain the origin of the world, the

    creation of human beings and the birth of gods and goddesses

    and this type of myth is developed by the early societies.

    Explanatory myth, in its own case, tries to explain natural

    processes or events. Many societies have developed myth to

    explain the formation and characteristics of geographical

    features such as lake, rivers, ocean, etc. Some myth through

    the actions or particular gods and heroes, stress proper

    behaviour and this has to do with the ancient Greeks strong

    belief in moderation; that is nothing should be done in excess.

    Thus, one notes that myth involves living and this clearly

    indicates the element of struggle in human nature. For

    thousands of years, mythology has provided material for much

    of the worlds great art. Myth and mythological characters have

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    inspired masterpieces of architecture, literature, music etc.

    Mythical beings fall into several groups, these include

    anthropomorphic divinities, which are called from Greek

    expression meaning in the shape of man, these divinities were

    born, fell in love, fought with one another and generally

    behaved like their human worshippers. Another group of myth

    beings include gods and goddesses who resemble animals and

    these characters are called Theriomorphic which mean in the

    shape of animal and many of these occur in Egyptian


    The third group of mythical beings has no specific name;

    these beings were neither completely human nor complete

    animal. An example is the famous sphinx of Egypt who had a

    human head and a horse body. Human beings play an

    important part in mythology as myth deals with the relationships

    between mortals and divinities. There are two ways in which the

    presence of myth in any society may be explained; one is by

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    the way of diffusion and the other is through the independent

    working of imagination.

    Myth hides nothing and flaunt nothing: it distorts; it is

    neither a lie nor a confession; it is an influxion.


    A wide variety of mythologies have developed among

    many people that live in Africa; and some of these mythologies

    are simple and primitive while others are elaborate and


    African mythology is a living chronicle in the minds of

    people. Myth expresses the history, culture and the experience

    of the African man and it portrays his wishes and the fears as

    he gropes to understand the unknown by disserting and

    remolding it to fit his frame of reference. In the study of myth,

    the Africans metaphysics is created and his beliefs are

    constructed. African mythology as every other form of African

    conceptual pattern, emphasise human interaction in life itself. It,

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    thus, explains the context of various African cultures and norms

    though spiritual communication which often occurs in African

    myth as a means to uplift the living from the sorrows of their

    entanglements in the here and now philosophy. A myth is

    created to enhance this and this is done through reincarnation.

    Perhaps the best known African mythologies are those

    of the West African Ashanti, fon, and Yoruba people. Nyame is

    the Ashanti sky and fertility god, the rain source for his wife

    Arase ya, the earth itself. It is the culture hero trickster Aranse

    the spider who acts as the gods connection to human beings.

    Essentially, Arranse corrects the mistakes of Nyames creation,

    convincing the god to send rain to counteract the extreme heat

    of the new sun, and river and ocean banks to contain the water

    that would otherwise have flooded the world. Aranse also lives

    up to his trickster reputation by succeeding in marrying the high

    gods daughter.

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    Among the fon the supreme deity is Nana Buluku, his twin

    children Mahu and Lisa female and male, earth and sky,

    fertility and venality establish balance in the world. Their son,

    Dan, maintain life by controlling the deities who embody aspect

    of nature.

    The Yoruba sky god is the aloof Olorun, who load children

    by the primordial waters, Olokun. These were Obatala of the

    sky and Odudua of the earth. Some their union came dry and

    wet trail, which produced Orungan, who made live to his

    mother, producing the later Yoruba pantheon. The gods of this

    pantheon represent various phenomena and human activities.

    The concept of African mythology is to justify the African

    wisdom and thus the African scholars find their creature

    impetus in myth, history and customs. In the light of this

    mythical concepts, Africans have been able to find their world

    view and have made intellectual attempt to understand the

    phenomenon with which they continually live as Africans. The

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    imprint of myth in the African worldview cannot be obliterated; it

    educate African about the details of African cosmological

    beliefs, their meaning and their origins.


    The Yoruba cosmogony revolves essentially around the

    belief in gods, ancestors, spirits and taboos. For a typical

    Yoruba man, most of the divinities are supposed to have been

    men and to have been exhausted for their heroic deeds to the

    admiration and effection of the people. Therefore he believes

    that in order to maintain societal status quo, there is need to

    maintain a perfect and cordial relationship between himself and

    the gods, it is this realization that brings about deification.

    The Yoruba society like any other African society

    comprises mainly of farmers and hunters whose means of

    livelihood depend mostly on proceeds from the land and forest.

    And they being aware of both physical and natural threats like

    war, farming drought, flood etc, realize the need to appease

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    and propitiate the spirits and gods of the land at the appropriate

    time, for good harvest fruitful hunting, and protection from their


    In their bid to achieve all these, they developed festivals

    and rituals which most of the time involves a symbolic

    enactment of the life of some of the gods. The rituals mostly

    contain sacrifice, which is the acknowledged means of

    propitiation and purification. Sacrifices are made to the gods

    with things that are peculiar to each of them, ranging from in-

    animated to animated things. It is the priest or priestress as the

    case may be, that heeds in the ritual act. The people regard the

    priests and priestesses as representatives of the gods.

    Modern African playwrights in their bid to present what

    can be characterized as a true African drama dive into the

    history and background of the people which are manifested in

    their myth, legend, folktales, taboos, proverbs, songs etc. They

    attempt to depict the sociological, religious, political, economic,

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    cultural and ethical beliefs of the people vis--vis their norms

    and values. One example of such playwrights is Amos Tutuola,

    who, making perfect use of his knowledge about the Yoruba

    cosmos, wrote The Palm-wine Drinkard.


    The importance of studying this text is based on

    mythology. The Palm-wine Drinkard uses mythology and

    symbolism to explore various aspect of death. One definite

    theme is that death is not an end but a transition. The drunkard

    faces death many times and in many ways but lives through the

    experiences. In fact, early in the story be pays Death himself a

    visit and tricks Death into falling into a net, so that Death can

    not go back home again. So since that day that I had brought

    Death out from his house, he has no permanent place to dwell

    or stay and we are hearing this name about in the world

    (Chapter 1, p. 199).

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    It is usual to hear that these tale express the traditional

    sensibility of an African world view and offer a window into

    the inchoate and frightening world of the primitive imagination.

    So general statement would be quite misleading. The story and

    the narrative and visionary techniques reflect one particular and

    identifiable aspect of a complex and sophisticated tradition.

    In the oral tradition the folktale - a rural and cautionary

    story but clearly recognized as fiction and entertainment had

    free range of this random and arbitrary world. Because they

    were intended for entertainment and instruction, these tales

    could be as horrific, frightening and bizarre as the inauguration

    could render them. They require the willing suspension of


    The Palm-wine Drinkard tells the story of a young man

    whose sole occupation is in drinking palm-wine, and lots of it.

    His father provides him with a palm-wine tapper who keeps him

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    supplied when the palm-wine tapper dies, the palm-wine

    drinkard decides to undertake a journey to find him.

    Through his journey he tricks men, gods, and ghosts,

    saves many people, and ends up meeting all kinds of different

    ghosts and creatures. The story is fantastic and well worth the


    The story is told in Nigerian English as it existed when

    Tutuola wrote the book. The writing style gives it a very unique

    and different feel which really adds to the folktale feel and

    makes it seem more real.


    The most significant aim of myth is based on the element

    of supernatural and mysteries. This is done to create fear in

    bath the minds of the reader. In traditional African literature

    most of things done are shrouded in mysterious. Thus modern

    African playwrights rely heavily on these apparatus to create

    the desired effects in their text. African modern literature in its

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    attempt to capture the mystic effects of the traditional literature,

    relies on costuming which has to correspond with the culture

    and belief of the Africans.

    The former aim at the most general statement, focus on

    myth as one general factor in human thought, the teller

    emphasise the variety of myths. Efforts are made on one hand

    to father the inner meaning of myth because of the

    authoritative, indeed revelatory function they have for human

    existence, while on the other hand, there is tendency to deal

    with myth in term of general theory of man that may be inspired

    biologically, psychologically or any other way.

    The original Greek term for myth (mythos) denotes word

    in the sense of a decisive, final pronouncement. Myth present

    extraordinary events without trying to justify them, people have

    sometimes assumed that myth are simply unprovable and false

    stories and thus have made the word a synonym for fable.

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    However, through indept study of myth was discovered that

    there are distinct differences between myth and fable.

    All survey of myth scholarship done by inquests,

    anthropologists, folklorists and literary critics reveal that a

    concensus of what the term myth means has never seen

    achievement within any of these fields let alone among them.

    Even a simple rehearsing of the arguments that has taken

    place would lead us far away from our topic, so we will need to

    accept for the time being the working definition of myth in this



    The study is purely applied research, it is based on an

    extensive library research of published and unpublished

    materials. There is no doubt, however, sharing the same socio-

    cultural background with the playwright, the present researcher

    has a good insight into the study. This, in fact, does not make

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    the study a basic research rather it is an applied research of

    critical examinations of Amos Tutuolas mythic text.


    This study, however, shall focus on Amos Tutuola myth.

    One of his text, The Palm-wine Drinkard shall be critically and

    analytically examined base on the above topic, mythological

    icons in Amos Tutuolas The Palm-wine Drinkard. To really do

    justice to this pre-occupation, the present researcher shall also

    adopts a form of comparative study of the text.

    The study shall be divided into four chapters: Chapter one

    states the rationale behind the study and it also spells out the

    scope, organization and methodology of the study. Chapter two

    is review of relevant literature on nature of Amos Tutuolas text,

    whilst in chapter three we shall examine the mythological

    element in Tutuolas work. Chapter four, the last chapter,

    concludes the study.

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    Amos Tutuola was born 1920, Abeokuta, Nigeria. He was

    a Nigerian writer. He had only six years of formal schooling and

    wrote in English and outside the mainstream of Nigerian

    literature. His stories incorporated Yoruba myths and legends

    into loosely constructed prose epics that improvised on

    traditional themes. His best known work is The Palm-wine

    Drinkard (1952), a classic quest tale that was the first Nigerian

    book to achieve international fame. His later works include the

    tale The Witch Herbalist of the Remote Town (1981), Yoruba

    Folktales (1986), and Village Witch Doctor (1990). Tutuola

    hoard his first folk stories at his speaking mothers knee when

    he was about 7 years old, one of his fathers cousins took him

    to live with F. O. Monu, an Ibe man, as a servant. Instead of

    paying Tutuola money, he sent the young boy to the salvation

    Army primary school. He attended tages High School for a

    year, and worked as a houseboy for a government clerk. His

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    father Died in December 1938, Tutuola had to end his studies.

    He tried his luck as a farmer, but his crop failed and he moved

    to Lagos in 1940, during World War II he worked for the Royal.

    Air forces as a blacksmith, and stores a number of other

    vocations, including selling bread, and messengering for the

    Nigerian Department of Labour. In 1946 Tutuola completed his

    first full length book, The Palm-wine Drinkard, within a few

    days I was a story teller when I was in the school, he later

    said. Next year he married Victoria Alake.

    The Palm-wine Drinkard and His Dead Palm in Tapster

    in the Deads Town by Amos Tutuola is the novel that gained

    Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola acclaim in the west and criticism

    at home. The book was based on Yoruba folklore, but was

    largely his own.

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    Amos Tutuola achieved only sixth grade education due to

    financial constraints following his fathers death. He later tried

    his hand at farming without success, then pursued the

    blacksmith trade. He served as a coppersmith in the West

    African Air Corps of the British military in World War II. After the

    War Tutuola had to take a job as a messenger, and it gave him

    time, between errands, to write down stories he had heard. His

    first novel, The Palm-wine Drinkard and his Dead Palm-wine

    Tapster in the Deads Town, became the subject of much

    controversy because of its frequently ungrammatical, though

    stylist and vivid, writing. A landmark work, it was the first novel

    to be published by a Nigerian author, and also the first novel by

    a black African to be written in English. The work is classified

    as a novel, but there has been some debate about whether this

    designation is accurate, since The Palm-wine Drinkard

    incorporates so much oral tradition. Indeed, this novel has

    provided many with their first glimpse into Yoruba folklore The

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    Palm-wine Drinkard draws heavily on traditional folktales,

    which has been another source of controversy, prompting some

    claim that the work plagiarizes the intellectual property of the

    Yoruba people.

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    Distinguished philosophers and folklorists represent

    opposite extremes in the study of myth. The Oxford English

    Dictionary defines myth as a purely fictitious narrative usually

    involving supernatural persons, action, or events and

    embodying some popular idea concerning natural or historical

    phenomena myth is a collective term used for one kind of

    symbolic communication and specifically indicates one basic

    form of religious symbolism as distinguished from symbolic

    behaviour (cult, ritual) and symbolic places or objects. Myths in

    (plural) are specific account concerning gods or superhuman

    beings and extraordinary events or circumstances in a time that

    is altogether different from that or ordinary human experience.

    Myth occurs in the history of all human traditions and

    communities and it is a basic constituent of human culture.

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    Wole Soyinka describes it as a continuous source of the

    knowledge needed for critical problems in mans existence: war

    and peace, life and death, truth and falsehood good and evil.

    Every myth presents itself as authoritative and always as an

    account of fact no matter how completely different they may be

    from ordinary world. It is properly distinguished from legend and

    allegory but often used vauely to include any narrative having

    fictitious elements.

    1Rigther Williams in Myth and Literature, says that myths

    are accounts with an absolute authority that is implied rather

    than stated; they relates events and states of affair surpassing

    the ordinary human world, yet basic to the world. The time in

    which the related events take place is altogether different from

    the ordinary historical time of human experience (and in most

    cases in un arrangenable long ago). The actors in the

    narratives are usually gods or other extra ordinary beings such

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    as animals, plants or specific of real men who changed human

    condition with their deeds.

    2Frazer in the Golden Bough says that myths are

    reenactment in figurative language of events once acted out in

    magical ceremonies. Echero attaches much importance to

    myth partly because it gives form and meaning to experience.

    Myth he argues, gives clear outlines to dramatic action whose

    sequence of events is invariably of a deliberate kind from this

    talk of a pattern of ordered events. It is obvious that he is

    concerned with the Aristotelian unified plot structure, with

    logical cause and effect progressive in time.

    3 Butcher also says that:

    Myth is the unwritten literature of an early

    people whose instinctive language was poetry.

    It has their philosophy their history and it is

    enshrined in both their conscious and

    unconscious theories of life. It recorded all they

    know about their own past, about their cities,

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    families, the geographical movement of their

    tribes and the exploits of their ancestors.

    According to G. S. Dirk, myths are of vague and uncertain

    category and one mans myth is another mans saga, legend or

    folktale. What we need to decide is the basis upon which the

    term myth need to decide is the basis upon which the term

    myth can be applied to general consent and that will entail

    separating instances for which doing other terms are

    preparable description. What remains may turn out to be a

    class of phenomenon grouped formally, by the possession of a

    particular narrative quality to tendency to be experienced on

    special kinds of occasions rather than by something essential to

    the concept of myth itself.

    One of the theories about myth is that all myth are about

    natural phenomenon; that is the sum, the moon, wind and

    earth. The greatest exponents of this theory is Max Muller who

    thought that myth were found through a misunderstanding of

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    names especially those attached to celestial objects. It may,

    however, seem absurd, yet it is obvious that some myth are

    concerned with such matters. The myth of the sky being forcibly

    separated from the earth, that the world might exist between

    them is an example of nature myth.

    Isidore Okpewho in Myth in Africa: A Study Its Aesthetic

    and Culture Relevance; strongly objected to the theory that

    myths are allegories of nature. He proposed that myths should

    be considered as characters for customs, institution, or beliefs.

    By this theory Okpewho meant something close to explanation

    in a loose sense but devoid of theoretical qualities what this

    theory implies is that in a traditional society every custom and

    institution tends to be validated or confirmed by myth which

    states a precedence for it but does not seek to explain it in any

    logical sense.

    It is possible, however, to stress the scared character of

    myth and therefore its uniqueness. It is also possible to

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    describe and list theories of various accounts and thus place

    myth and other narrative side by side. Which ever way one

    learns, in the delineation of myth, it is useful to venture

    comparison and contrast with other manifestation of oral

    literature, like fable, fairy tales, folktales, saga, legends etc.

    Many of which shares in one or more of the features of myth

    without being mythical.

    Fairy tales or folktales tell of extraordinary being and

    events and in that respect, resemble myth, though differ

    remarkably in other respects. The time suggested by fairy tales,

    is the time of mans ordinary experience. Whereas the typical

    fairy tales or folktales open with Once upon a time the

    typical myth begins with in the beginning folktales

    carry no authority like myth and even if sometimes a moral is

    presented, the outstanding quality is entertainment thus we can

    see that these narrative differs from myth even though they also

    allude to some supernatural things.

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    Folktales are concerned essentially with life and problems

    of ordinary people, they are not aristocratic in nature. They are

    not concerned with target problem like the incentaility of death

    or institution matters like the justification of kingship, their social

    pre-occupation are restricted to the families for entertainment

    and in some cases didactic that is importing some moral


    Fable on the other hand can be referred to as fictitious or

    untrue story about animal and other animated things. Like myth,

    it originated from Greek word (mythos) prominent among the

    Yoruba is the fable about tortoise and its cunning ways. Saga

    are tales with claim to truth and in that respect, they resemble

    myth. The time of action, however, is a specific time in the past

    (not unspeaed as in fairytales, nor altogether different times as

    in the case of myth). The protagonists in saga are usually great

    ancestor of the race or rotation.

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    The nature of myth was simply that the gods become

    more and more like human beings and were supposed to be

    more directly involved in human affairs. Myths make use of

    magical features to influence the world. They are ultimately,

    ancients of deep complex and half felt elements of human

    nature and that is why they are told against a distant

    background. All myth offer a cause or explanation of something

    in the world.

    In a typical African society, the natural, social, cultural,

    biological and spiritual facts are explained by myth. The

    function of narration and explanation go together. The beliefs

    and values of the society the entrenched in myth thus, it is

    significant in traditional system of education. Myth represents

    an historical inner reality of the people, though that reality is

    necessarily revealed in objective correlatives tens that we can


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    Furthermore, a great number of myths answer question

    about nature and foundation of ritual and cultic customs.

    Dynasties and ruling families of the world found justification of

    their position in myth, which state that they originated in the

    sacred world of the gods. The descriptive function of myth

    linked with the authoritative presentation of facts that transcend

    ordinary reason and observation. Myth can describe that origin

    of the world, the end of the world. Thus myth is capable of

    describing when persons using reason and observation can

    never see for themselves.

    5Jason weaver says;

    Aside from the transmogrifield strangeness of

    folk and fairy tales, Amos Tutuolas 1952 novel

    The palm-wine drinkard is unlike almost

    anything else in print. Nebulous comparisons

    naught be made with Orids metamorphoses,

    Kafkas inconclusive parable or Alice in wonderhand. But things behave very differently from

    even these European garquyles in Tutuolas

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    twilight world. I know nothing about the authors

    own relationship to Nigerian culture I would

    rather meet him as a stranger on the road;

    enchanting and a little spooky.

    What everyone knows is that David Byrne and Brian Eno

    named their album of bricotage and technological tribalism after

    Tutuolas second novel My life the Bush o9f Ghost both

    claimed they had never actually read the book, but it would

    have been a wholly appropriate influence in Brians stop making

    sense lying and the circuit breaking Eno.

    What is so vital about the palm-wine Drunkard is

    Tutuolas absolute dedication to the fantastic. All laws of the

    probably are flauted and everything is elastic. Details are hasty

    and sketched and sentence often end with a blunt etc. Thing

    are most often described by the element s that mark them out,

    make them what they are for brently, places and things are

    named by their description. The Red-people in the Red Town

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    or rather wonderfully. The skull as a complete Gentleman. The

    latter is a bore cranium that lures body parts and a nice suit and

    poses in the market place as a kind of Bryan Ferry in order to

    lure pretty young women. Events are compressed, time

    collapses, a decade passes in a sentence. It is, appropriately, a

    drunken logic.

    6Dylan Thomas Says;

    The hero of this brief, thronged, grisley and

    bewitching story, is a devoted drinker of palm-


    So devoted that drinking palm-wine is his only occupation his

    father lures an expert tapster to supply his son with drink, and

    before long he is drinking (with some help from his friends) a

    total of 225 kegs of palm-wine a day, one day disaster strikes.

    The tapster dies in a fall from a palm tree, and our hero is

    unable to find a suitable replacement. When I saw that there

    was no palm-wine for me again, and nobody could tap it for me;

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    then I thought within myself that old people were saying that the

    whole people who had died in this world, did not go to heaven

    directly, but they were living in one place somewhere in this

    world. So that I said that I would find out where my palm-wine

    tapster who had died was.

    So begins this unusual small epic, written by a civil

    service messenger with six years of elementary education,

    steeped in Yoruba story telling traditions but peppered with

    modern-day references, crowded with strange monsters and

    improbable event told with perfect sincerity, and entrenched

    with psychologically charged imagery that would make even a

    non-Freudian sit up and take notice, this tale violates dozens of

    grammatical rules and novelistic conventions yet provides in

    abundance the one indispensable quality of literature: it is alive.

    7David Amason says;

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    Tutuolas style was the chief appeal to

    outsiders, and that he was read with


    The Palm-wine Drinkard burst onto the world literary scene in

    1952, and was an immediate and smashing success. This was

    balanced by Tutuolas cool reception by Nigerian critics.

    Most western critics deny that they treat Tutuola and

    condescendingly, and attempt to prove their point by treating

    Nigerian critics with condescension, making their aspirations

    toward progress.

    8Paul Edwards says;

    [The Palm-wine Drinkard] is more commonlyadmired for its free running fancy than for

    anything that could be called its structure, and

    apart from its archetypal form of the quest,

    there might appear to be little evidence of


    Indeed what seems to be a clear instance of the absence

    of form is the introduction of the tale of the quarrel between

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    earth and heaven into the novels closing pages. But I suggest

    that it might be less arbitrary than it appears.

    9 D. a. n. Jones says;

    Tutuola was like a seventeenth century

    Welshman who had just discovered the

    sweetness of the English tongue.

    Anyone who enjoys Nigerian writing in English must

    salute Amos Tutuola, the man who made the breakthrough in

    1952 with The Palm-wine Drinkard. It is appropriate that the

    founder of a literature should be a working class man, an early

    school leaven, making poetic use of the idioms of the

    unlettered.10 Layren Grantz says;

    Tutuolas novel also marks the emergency of

    debates about what African literature should be


    Western literary figures most significantly Dylan

    Thomas, who pushed for the novels publication praised

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    Tutuolas unique prose style and use of Yoruba oral tradition.

    The exoticism of The Palm-wine Drinkard made it a

    phenomenon throughout Europe, where it was road in over a

    dozen languages. However, in Tutuolas native Nigeria, the

    novel gained more critical responses. Tutuolas use of pidgin

    English, superstition, and a protagonist who claims to drink

    Palm wine from morning till night led some Nigerian

    intellectuals to worry that the book fell into European

    stereotypes of backward and shiftless Africans. Despite this

    initial controversy, later Nigerian writers such as Chimia Achebe

    embraced the text and encouraged leaders to reconsider the


    Tutuolas work depicts the travels of its titular character,

    the self-described palm-wine drunkard. For those unfamiliar

    with the beverage, palm-wine is an alcoholic drink made from

    the sap of palm tree, which must be collected by a tapper.

    Tutuolas protagonist was such a tremendous thirst for wine

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    that he must employ an expert palm-wine tapster who taps

    over two hundred kegs of the drink per day. Unfortunately for

    the drinkard, one day his tapster falls from a palm tree and dies.

    No other tapster can satisfy his thirst for wine, so the drunkard

    seeks the wisdom of the elderly in his village who were saying

    that the whole people who had died in this world, did not go to

    heaven directly, but they were living in one place somewhere in

    this world. Believing that his tapster resides in Deads Town,

    the Drinkard summons all his juju, or magic, and set hoping to

    find and re-employ the dead man. Early readers focused

    extensively in Tutuolas use of the English language, debating

    whether or not it was appropriately literary. While Dylan

    Thomas called Tutuolas prose a Young English and

    enthusiastically endorsed the text, Nigerian critics considered it

    broken English that merely reinforced conception of African

    primitive. To be sure, when compared to the works of other

    Anglophone African authors such as Achebe or Wole Soyinka,

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    Tutuolas prose does ring strange. However, this reviewer

    agrees with Michael Thelwells suggestion in his introduction to

    Tutuolas novel that the author employs an English whose

    vocabulary is bent and twisted into the service of a different

    languages nuances. As readers grow accustomed to the

    prose, it becomes clear that Tutuolas is neither a young nor a

    broken English, but rather a Yoruba English that operates

    with a rhythm and interval logic all its own. This makes for

    fascinating read, and students of linguistics or oral literatures

    would likely find this aspect of Tutuolas novel fruitful for


    Tutuolas Yoruba English is also significant given that it

    speaks to the blending of cultures and languages that

    permeates the novel as a whole. For while most of the text has

    its grounding in traditional Yoruba tales, there are also

    numerous moments that reveal the colonial situation from which

    the novel emerged; comparison utilizing twentieth century

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    military technology such as bombs and planes, and references

    to the Christian god merge readily with Yoruba inspire spirits

    and duties. Writing almost a decade prior to Nigerias

    independence, Tutuola appropriates from various vocabularies

    as best serves his purpose, crafting a tale that offers a glimpse

    into Nigerias traditional heritage and its then colonial present.

    While it has been nearly sixty years since its original

    publication, The Palm-wine Drinkard still proves a rich text for

    analyses by students of African and post-colonial literatures.

    Tutuola became the first Nigerian writer to achieve

    international recognition. This adaptation of Yoruba folktales

    into nonstandard English represents one of the first works of its

    kind, and Tutuola is credited with founding a uniquely African

    literary form. Influencing critical reception of the Palm-wine

    Drinkard was the early appearance of a laudatory review by

    Dylan Thomas, and the ensuing critical attention gave Tutuolas

    work a cultlike status in the western world. Nigerian critics,

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    however, were skeptical of Tutuolas skill and complained that

    his work was both ungrammatical and unoriginal, being unduly

    similar to the work of D. O. Fagunwa, a Yoruban chronicler of

    tales in the vernacular. Tutuolas next five works, all derived

    from oral tales and written in English, received comparatively

    less attention but established him as a consistently skillful story

    teller. After his fifth work, Ajaiyi and His Inherited Poverty

    (1967), Tutuola did not publish until the recent appearance of

    The Witch Herbalist of the Remote Town (1982).

    Tutuolas works usually concern a nave or moral weak

    character who is either inspired or forced to embark on a

    spiritual journey. During this journey, he often encounters

    danger, confronts spirits from the underworld, and has sudden

    insights which enable him to live a more pious life. Because of

    the spiritual themes, allegorical characters, and symbolic plots,

    Tutuolas works have been called mythologies or epics rather

    than novels. An early Tutuola critic, Gerald Moore, analysed

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    Tutuolas use of mythology, comparing mythological patterns

    occurring in literature throughout the world. Other critics have

    also recognized in Tutuolas literary quests elements similar to

    those of 10John Bunyans pilgrims progress and other important

    quest literature says;

    Since Tutuola was formally educated only

    through the six grade, most critics consider a

    conscious emulation of world mythology

    unlikely. Rather, they attribute these similarities

    to Tutuolas knowledge of Yoruban oral tales,

    which have universal themes as their basis.

    It is his reliance on traditional stories which prompted well

    educated Nigerians to question Tutuolas originality. However,

    other respected critics maintain that Tutuola adapts and

    expands the legendary sources to create original versions.

    In The Witch Herbalist of the Remote Town, Tutuola

    again follows the mythological pattern of the quest theme. The

    storys protagonist, in search of a potion to render his wife

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    fertile, meets with children from the spirit world. The protagonist

    undergoes mental changes which Tutuola depicts through

    physical transformations and allegorical confrontations between

    the protagonist and the various aspects of his personality.

    There is overwhelming agreement that Tutuola has here

    maintained the philosophic, symbolic, and imaginative qualities

    of his first works.

    African bush, wild, shrubby landscape through which the

    drinker of palm-wine (a naturally alcoholic beverage that is

    tapped directly from trees) travels during most of the novel.

    Occasionally, he and his wife discover a road, but they are

    soon driven back into the uncharted bush. The setting is never

    specifically stated, but it may be inferred. The author is

    Nigerian, and he incorporates Yoruba myths and legends into

    his loosely connected narrative. The setting is either West

    Africa or a magical landscape that physically resembles West

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    Africa. Though Tutuola did not consider himself a writer, more a

    collector of stories.

    When I started reading the story itself, I found a

    class of literature that was completely different

    from East and West.

    This is not merely a folk tell, the writer has got

    unimaginable way of thinking in his brain. When you read the

    first paragraph of the text you will find you are shocked. The

    book is so interesting that you cant stop reading until it is


    The Palm-wine Drinkard is a myth and cannot really be

    read as a novel. It is in style and contexts very similar to the

    numerous myths relayed by Joseph Campbell in his volumes of

    mythology, the masks of God. But Amos Tutuola offers no

    explanations and so the reader is left in the dark.

    Wole Soyinka and Femi Osofisan are into the African past

    with different attitudes to myth and history. Their works portrays

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    a deep concern and yearning for myth as an instrument and

    source of inspiration for example Wole Soyinka draws

    inspiration from myth of Ogun while Femi Osofisan concerns

    him self with reinterpreting myth for revolutionary purpose, that

    is trying to find solution to the vices in the society. This is shown

    in all their text.

    J. P. Clark uses myth as a way of confirming or

    reaffirming the authencity of mysterious surrounding the gods

    and supernatural powers that are beyond the control of ordinary

    human being. In some of his works he perfectly brings out the

    relationship between human beings and gods. He portrays how

    human beings are just tools in the hands of the gods and vividly

    shows that mans destiny is controlled by the gods.

    Margaret Laurence notes that the book has been

    compared to orphans in the underworld, to Bounyans pilgrims

    progress, to Drante, to the journey of Odyseus.

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    Gerald Moore says that all of the authors heroes or

    heronries follow out one variant or another of the cycle of the

    heroic monomyth, departure, initiation and return.

    11 Chinua Achebe (in the frist Equiano Memorial lecture)

    calls Tutuola the most muralist of all Nigerian writers. The

    Palm-wine Drinkard describes the consequences of inverting

    work and play, and though the events are grotesque and

    surreal, there are always boundaries to a monsters power.


    arrarchy is held at bay and a traveler who

    perseveres can progress from one completed

    task to the domain of another and in the end

    achieve the creative, moral purpose in the extra

    ordinary but by no means arbitrary universe

    of Tutuolas story.

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    African creative writers have equally felt the urge to utilize

    this cultural phenomenon and amongst these writers are Amos

    Tutuola, Wole Soyinka, Femi Osofisan, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Olu

    Obafemi, Niyi Osundare, Isiodore Okpewho, etc. Each writers

    has a pattern of examining the African mythology.

    Amos Tutuola uses myth to explain happenings in

    everyday life in the society Soyinka moves from historical

    contemporaries into myth. In Osofisans use of myth and legend

    become elastic, transmitted and completely created to suit

    contemporary events. Amos Tutuola squeezes myth, legend

    and history to extract only the tangible aspects as can source

    his own vision.

    Myth therefore, provides an avenue for illustrating the

    contradictory aspects of society, both from the positive and

    negative perspectives.

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    Myth is very essential to human race and it is globally

    accepted by all cultures. By studying myth, one can learn how

    different societies have answered basic questions about the

    world and the individuals place in it. It is through this that

    people learn how a particular or significant societal system with

    its custom and beliefs. The following might be suggested as a

    simplified not working typology and mythical functions. The first

    type is primarily narrative and entertaining; the second is

    operative, iterative and validatory and third is speculative and


    That this typology is schematic is obvious enough, and it

    is clearly shown in the first type because all myths are stories

    which depend heavily on narrative technique for their creation

    and preservation. These techniques together with the artists

    creativity cause them to be more entertaining for any purpose

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    that they are meant for. The second typology, in its own case, is

    usually rare because it belongs to the special genre of folktales

    and legends and it is preserved as relics of the past.

    Mythical stories could be compared on the basis of its

    generic, genetic, or historical relationships. Generic

    relationships among such stories are based on the way people

    react to common features in their environment. Genetic

    relationships is the case whereby a large society may develop a

    particular myth then, for some reasons, the society breaks up

    into several separate societies, each of which develop its own

    version of the myth. The last, in the companion of myth, is the

    historical relationship and this occurs when similar mythical

    stories develop among cultures that do not share a common

    origin. Various myth of different cultures are compared so as to

    discover how cultures differ and how they resemble one


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    Myth is very essential to the human community because it

    happens to be the invincible foundation of social life and

    cultural continuum. It educates the world about the details of

    various cosmological beliefs, their meanings and their origin.

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    Traditional African societies have by and large normally

    been referred to as primitive societies by the western scholars.

    Some of the reasons adduced for this biased assertion

    indude the belief that African societies are devoid of

    complexities and challenges of life due to lack of western

    education. But contrary to this erroneous belief is the fact that

    African, are rich in complex symbolism and wide scope for the

    individual to express his own insight and awareness of human


    Past and present literary works by African writers shows

    that the cultural, political, sociological economic and ethical

    welfare of the Africans are entrenched in these systems and

    beliefs which revolve around myths. Myths occur in the history

    and traditions of the African communities, they are the basic

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    constituents upon which it existence is based. They also act as

    continuous source of the knowledge needed for actual

    problems in the peoples day to day activities, war and peace,

    life and death, truth and falsehood good and evil.

    Among the Yorubas there are various types of myths

    created to bridge the gap between the early race and the

    present generation. Essential there are myths about the

    creation of earth and all the living things. There are also myths

    defining the relationship between the people and the gods,

    ancestors and other supernatural beings. Myths are also

    created to institutionalized events and issues so as for them to

    have permanent effect in the people. Virtually all facets of

    human endeavouring and linked with one myth or the other.

    Literarily, myths play important role in Africa. Most of the

    past and present African plays and prose brave there root in the

    antecedent myths and ritual performances. African playwright

    employ the use of myths acts to pass their message across to

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    their readers. Not only thus, myth act as embellishments used

    in bringing out the desired aesthetic values in the text.

    Some African writers have been able to perfectly make

    use of myth to present their works. Amos Tutuola is one typical

    example of these African writers. As a traditionalist, he relies

    heavily on myths to creatively present the past deeds and

    events in his text. In most of his work he vividly brings into

    focus the beliefs of the Yorubas as regards their relationship

    with the gods. He present the relationship as one that need

    almost loyalty and denotion from the people to the gods.

    While exolting the sacred nature of the gods, he also in

    some of his work portrays them (the gods) as not being free of

    fraulities that are known with lesser beings. In The Palm-wine

    Drinkard Amos Tutuola present the mortal tendencies in the

    immortals. He presents the human sides of the gods, plague

    with strife, struggling for supremacy. In the text the writer show

    us that even though the god possessed supernatural powder

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    that makes man to be subservient to them, they (the gods) are

    not free or immune against some of other human vices.

    The text The Palm-wine Drinkard is based on the myth of

    how gods came from somewhere to inhabit the earth with the

    people. The Yoruba believe that the gods were ones men who

    have got deified because of their past heroic deeds and

    actions. In death, these men become gods and the people now

    turn to them for protection and guidance.

    A general overview of the Yoruba cosmogony shows that

    the gods are attributed with specific and peculiar deeds.

    Coupled with this is the placing of the gods in hierarchical order

    according to their status and functions. The Yoruba believe that

    Obatala is the most senior of all the gods. This deity is ranked

    next to the supreme being because of the function of moulding

    human beings that is attributed to him. They also believe that

    he has power to shape mans destiny.

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    A seldom discussed aspect of cultural anthropology is

    the metamorphosis of our fairy tales the imaginative

    currency of early youth which are passed on through family and

    social structures alike. In America, characters like witches,

    ghosts, and other creatures have their genesis in Europe, or

    can be traced even further back to ancient Indo European

    cultures (of course, we have our own indigenous tales as well).

    These characters and stones have became so diluted over the

    years, that theyve lost a lot of their original cultural meaning or


    The Palm-wine Drinkard is an African tale in it pure

    unadulterated form. And its not something youd want to hear

    before bedtime! Amos Tutuola writes an English which lends

    the narration a wide eyed, almost childlike voice yet in the

    face of wild, horrific imagery (e.g. armies of dead babies) the

    words are unflinching.

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    Tutuola Amos also used folklore in his text. Folklore is the

    traditional beliefs, practices, customs, stories, jokes, songs (etc)

    of a people, handed down orally or behaviourally from individual

    to individual. It is also known as folklife.

    Some African writers are greatly influenced by the cultural

    and traditional system of the Africans. In their works, attempts

    are made to project and exalt the customs and beliefs of the

    Africans. These writers in their attempt to depict the lives of the

    people, dive into their past using myth, folktales, legend etc as

    guide. Myth is particular acts as a channel through which the

    past is being linked with the present. With myth, the writers

    creatively fashion but the relevance and usefulness of peoples

    past events.

    Amos Tutuola as an African playwright derives his

    inspiration from the culture and tradition of the Africans in

    Yoruba context. In almost all his works he exalt the virtues and

    values inherent in the peoples beliefs and norms. He

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    emphasize the use of myth to unravel the mysteries

    surrounding customs and traditions of the Africans. Through

    mythology he is able to dive into the background of the Yoruba

    cosmogony thereby bringing out the gesthetic value inherent in


    He employs the use of mythology to portray the beliefs

    and relationship of the people with gods and ancestors.

    The Yoruba cosmogony is rooted in the belief in gods and

    other supernatural being. In a typical Yoruba setting, the gods

    and supernatural beings are hold in great reverence. They

    believe that the gods act as intermediary between them and the

    Supreme Being. Divices like rituals sacrifices, rites festivals are

    the various ways the people employ to get in contact with the

    gods. The Yorubas look up to the gods for guidance, blessing

    and protection against all natural and physical threats. The

    nature and characteristics of these gods are explicit in the

    peoples mythology. He emphasizes the supremacy of the gods

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    over human being. In some of his text like The Palm-wine

    Drinkard, The Witch Herbalist of the Remote Town and so on,

    he asserts the vulnirality of both the gods and the people.

    The subtitle pvodies an accurate glimpse into this strange

    book, which describes an epic quest with mythic elements

    drawn from Yoruba folktales. The heros name is father of gods

    who could do anything in this world one day he sets out to find

    out whereabouts was my tapster who had died. Thus begins a

    surreal journey through an African underworld. The Palm-wine

    Drinkard rescues a beautiful woman from a complete

    gentleman with rented body parts. After he marries her, the

    woman who gives birth to a fully grown child from her thumb.

    He turns himself into a canoe, which his wife paddles across a

    river. They sell their death and lend out their fear. They are

    captured by a giant who tosses them into a bag when they

    finally arrive at the Deads town, the tapster gives them a

    magical egg. They return to the land of the living when the hero

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    changes himself into a pebble and throws himself across a

    river. At home they put an end to a famine.

    The journey is so phantasm gone that the imperfect

    English becomes a key element. If the languages were brushed

    up, the book would not be the same. Heres a typical passage:

    His finger nails were long to about two feet, his

    head was bigger than his body ten times, he

    had a large mouth which was full of long teeth,

    these teeth were about one front long and as

    thick as a cows horns, his body was almost

    core red with black long hair like a horses tail

    hair. He was very dirty. The Palm-wine

    Drinkard is an excellent example of the heroicjourney informed by traditional African story

    telling and folktales.

    What is so vital about The Palm-wine Drinkard is

    Tutuola;s absolute dedication to the fantastic. All laws of the

    probable are flouted and everything is elastic. Details are hasty

    and sketched and sentences often end with a blunt etc.

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    Things are most often described by the elements that mark

    them out, make them what they are. For brenty, places and

    things are named by their description: The Red People in the

    Red Town or, rather wonderfully, The Skull as a Complete


    The plot such as it is, follows the eldest of eight children.

    His work, as he puts it, is to drink palm-wine. He is an expert

    and drink 225 kegs of it a day. He cannot even drink plain water

    any more. The drunkard is supplied by a tapster who falls fatally

    from a tree and because nobody can tap palm-wine as well as

    this character, the narrator sets off for Deads Town to find his

    posthumous incantation. On the way, the drinkard finds up a

    wife, uses all kind of Juju and meets incredible characters such

    as The Invisible Pawn, The Hungry Creature and The

    Faithful Mother in the White Tree is a kind of hotel cum

    hospital with a great ballroom. Scale is immaterial in the bush. It

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    is like a mutilated episode of In the Night Garden or an

    adventure from The Mighty Bush.

    The transmission of folktales follows evolutionary

    principles. Oral traditions enforce that each retelling of a story

    will mutate it according to personal and local bias and that the

    most mnemonic elements will carry from one teller to the next.

    The hero of this brief thronged, grisley and bewitching

    story, as the Poet Dylan Thomas called it, is a devoted drinker

    of palm-wine. So devoted that drinking palm-wine is his only

    occupation. His father hires an expert tapster to supply his son

    with drink, and before long he is drinking (with some help from

    his friends) a total of 225 kegs of palm-wine a day.

    One day disaster strikes. The tapster dies in a fall from a

    palm tree, and our hero is unable to find a suitable

    replacement. When I saw that there was no palm-wine for me

    again, and nobody could tap it for me, then I thought within

    myself that old people were saying that the whole people who

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    had died in this world, did not go to heaven directly, but they

    were living in one place somewhere in this world. So that I said

    that I would find out where my palm-wine tapster who had died


    The Palm-wine Drinkard, armed with a supply of juju, sets

    out from village to village in search of his tapster. After seven

    months he meets an old man who is actually a god, and who

    promises to tell him where his tapster is if he will find the house

    of Death and bring him back in a net. When I reached his

    (Deaths) house, he was not at home by that time, he was in his

    yam garden which was very close to his house, and I met a

    small rolling drum in his verandah, then I beat it to Death as a

    sign of salutation. Annoyed to be visited by a living man, Death

    commands the drum strings to tighten around the drunkard

    retaliates with his juju by making the ropes of the yams in his

    garden tighten around Death. They released each other, and

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    Death seeming to relent shows the drinkard around his property

    and gives him a bed for the night.

    After surviving another attempt to kill him the drunkard

    succeeds in capturing Death and hauls him back to the village

    of the old man, who had hoped to get rid of the drunkard and is

    shocked to see him still alive. Death escaped, and as a result

    has no permanent place to dwell or stay, and we are hearing

    his name about in the world.

    Many more adventures follow the drunkard rescues a

    beautiful young woman from a skull who has equipped himself

    as a complete gentleman by renting body parts from various

    other creatures. The drunkard marries the young woman, and

    before they reach the Deads Town they face dangers and

    challenges on wraith Island, in unreturnable Heavens town,

    and with the Red People of Red Town. They are helped by

    faithful mother and by the benevolent creatures Drum, Dance

    and Song and threatened by the Invisible Pawn, the hungry

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    creature, and by the eeric sight of 400 dead babies marching

    down a road with sticks in their hands. This odd and fascinating

    story sends the imagination in unexpected directions.

    While distinctly African, the novel bears some

    resemblance to the magic realism work of South American

    writers such as Juan Rulfo and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In all

    of these works the tone is mystical and pre-modern, but told in

    the form of a narrative novel which is in essence a modern

    form. This contrast is a manifestation of the transition between

    traditional culture and the global trend towards modernity.

    In the archetypal journey, the hero wins a boon through

    succeeding with his quest. The heavenly gift has regenerative

    power for the hero and the rest of the world when he returns

    from his guest. In the instance of The Palm-wine Drinkard, the

    great gift is an egg which would grant desires, this is a mighty

    gift which the protagonist wisely uses to combat the famine in

    his home, but the greed of the community eventually damages

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    the magic egg. Before he succeeds his guest a symbolic death

    and return occurs when the hero and his wife sell their deaths

    in the white tree. This kind of death sets the stage for

    miraculous rebirth and awakening into a new life from this point

    on, the protagonist acts in even more heroic ways and has the

    strength to continue his journey because he has been given a

    guarantee in his life. Symbolically, the drunkard has overcome

    his concerns about mortality before he re-enter the world on his


    When the drunkard repairs the egg, he uses it to punish

    the people for their destructiveness and gluttony Tutolas story

    is understandable to many people because it employs an

    archetypal story of the heroic guest and uses many universal

    images. At the same time, the setting is distinctly African.

    Folktales are always tweaking the seeds. Tutuolas writing

    seems inherited from an oral background. It shares the same

    splashy colour, the incredible and the memorable. The Palm-

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    wine Drinkard is an intensely visual story, a vivid engagement

    with the imagination. One impossible to convey in any other

    medium, even anime. The sparseness of descriptive details

    works on the reader, like a parasite working on the cortex to

    produce vivid hallucinations.

    Despite its compansons with other oral traditions, The

    Palm-wine Drinkard is a text, very much a work of printed

    fiction, rather than transcription. The book makes great use of

    parenthesis, abbreviation, appeals to the reader and a series of

    charming and sometimes baffling banner headlines (WHO


    TERRIBLE CREATURES IN BAG). These stylistic ties give the

    novel an even greater personality and (to this reader) more

    mystery and vitality. Within this overarching narrative are two

    main story lines, the first concerning the attainment of the

    magic egg: the second, its use and abuse. Traditional African

    themes of fertility, reciprocity, and destruction, specifically as a

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    direct result of greed are all on display here without the

    harshness of a work. Tutuola manages to integrate his

    Christian beliefs into his Yoruba heritage and work through

    problems of ethical reciprocity. For example, in WE AND THE


    KILLER, there are clear echoes of Jesus triumphant entry into

    Jerusalem before the sacrifice of the crucifixion. Then we

    mounted the horse. After that they were following us about the

    town, they were beating drums, dancing, and singing Yet

    the story is also purely African, set firmly in the bush.

    There are many mirror elements in the narrative such as

    the Tohosu baby following the marriage of the narrator and

    another that follows the recalibrating of that marriage. Since the

    Yoruba believe that life is preserved through children, a

    monstrous child that turns the natural order upside down is a

    striking and dramatic element. The tohosu baby born from a

    thumb rather than womb is voracious, stronger than the whole

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    town and a threat to the existence of every one the tohosu

    meets. This is one of the strongest ways that greed leading to

    destruction is illustrated and is retold in a different form near the

    end when the towns people become demanding, voracious for

    the food produced by the magic egg.

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    By definition, traditional African society refers to the

    indigenous African community as distinct from the European

    Influenced town or city in Africa today.

    The population of the indigenous village society is usually

    homogenous, usually comprising only one ethnic or sub

    linguistic group. This is opposed to the towns and cities which

    have a mixture of ethnic populations. In traditional African

    society, the inhabitants are usually farmers, fishermen or

    livestock keeper or hunters, depending on the natural

    geography of the location. There is division of labour usually

    according to sex.

    However, in spite of any such division of labour, there is

    homogeneity of ideas, customs and habits which are

    manifested in the attitudes of the people to supernatural forces,

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    social relation, entertainment and warfare. This means that the

    sense of community is very strong and every effort is made to

    keep it so and this is accomplished mainly through taboos. It is

    such attempt to preserve the culture and identity of the group,

    that has linked the contemporary traditional African society with

    the founding ancestors.

    In Africa, there is no appreciable gulf between the world

    of the living and that of the dead. They believe for instance that

    Abiku or Ogbanje (child born to died repeatedly) could cross the

    threshold between life and death at will. As far as an African is

    concerned there exists a constant communication between

    these stages. He believes that when an old man dies, he simply

    moves away from the living into the world of the spirits, he thus

    become an ancestors to be worshiped. Religion, which is strict

    adherence to ancestral traditions, and their concept of

    supernatural, happens to be an important feature of the

    traditional African society. Every socio cultural phenomenon

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    is usually conceived as originating from the ancestors or gods

    or at least requiring their sanction or approval. These ancestor

    or gods as the case may be perform, the function of

    intermediaries between the Africans and the Supreme Being

    who they regard as the creator of the universe and everything


    The belief in the ancestors and the power is shaping even

    contemporary traditional African behaviour can be presented in

    much clearer terms. The prevalence of religious myths and

    rituals represent a reaction to the realities of living for the

    traditional African society. The economic, social and moral

    persuits of people in these societies are objective in these myth

    which the priests and elders control. The African overview is

    based on their (Africans) general ideology, which encompasses

    set of values, representations and beliefs system and all other

    parameters which sustain the society to all ramifications. In

    other words these values belief systems of representations in

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    firm or dictate the kind of economic, social, religious and

    political formation of the society. They also more essentially

    dictate the nature artistic production.

    As a means of livelihood Africans are generally agrarian

    in nature. This to a great extent influence their day to day

    activities. It also brings about a traditionally based ideological

    concept amongst the Africans. It incorporates values such as

    communism which has to do with the way people interrelate

    and there is only the idea of mythological modes which is also

    close to legend, folktales, proverbs, poetry, dance, song, etc.

    The mode of literary production implies the assemblage of

    materials and social relations as forces necessary for the

    transmission of literary experience to the audience. The mode

    of transmission in traditional African setting is oral in nature.

    Oral literature is by definition dependent on a performer who

    formulates it in words on a specific occasion. Apart from this

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    oral nature or artistic production, there is no other way in which

    it can be realized as a literary product.

    African society being a traditional one, comprised mainly

    of farmers and hunters whose livelihood depend mostly on

    proceeds from land and forest and they (the Africans) at the

    same time, aware of their immediate and external environment

    which consist of both physical and natural threats, considered it

    pertinent to appease the supreme being through the gods and

    seek for protection and guidance.

    African literature reflects the view of Africans about the

    world and can be appreciated and understood better when

    studied and placed within an African context and situation.

    African literature seeks to capture and mirror the life of the

    people as it relates to their norms and values. It also depict the

    sociological, religious, political, economic, cultural and ethical

    beliefs of the African. In traditional literature the composition

    and performance both occur simultaneously.

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    African literature also can be said to evolve from oral

    tradition of the people. It finds its subject mainly in folklore

    which include traditional belief and values of the African society.

    Folktales are popular stories handed down orally from past

    generations. They are tales of adventures, heroic deeds of

    some people, about mysteries and some other supernatural

    things. Oral literature can be said to be dependent on

    performers who formulates it in word on a specific occasion,

    thereby bringing out the dramatic effect of it.

    The fact that African literature finds its subject mainly in

    folklore, (that is an aggregate of myth, legends, proverbs etc)

    has a number of consequences for it. Primarily it establishes

    the fact that African literature is a different land from those

    hither to encountered. It differences arises not because it find

    its origin in myth but as a result of the nature of the African

    society in particular which in itself differ from the greek and the

    European societies.

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    A fact holds amongst the contemporary Nigerian, writers

    that they share common background. That is, they move back

    to their original culture and exploit their resources to produce

    work of great vitality. This development, however, is not

    unconnected with the new trend that permeates the whole of

    African written literature as affirmed by Anodiya:

    Certainly the most dominant trend in

    contemporary African literature is that of writers

    going back to their traditional roots to borrow

    from oral literature to enrich written literature.

    Like their predecessors, the contemporary Nigerian literature

    have their text firmly rooted in Nigerian oral tradition still

    obsessed with mans need to redefine himself within his

    environment and to conquer and tame nature, they largely

    deploy the ancestral aspect of oral tradition to envice their

    diverse social vision and ideologies. Myth and culture, the basis

    of ancestral literature, have been good weapons in their hands

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    via which they prode the activities in their societies as captured

    by Danmade that:

    Many African works are myths reinterpreted

    imaginatively. African writers observe keenly

    the events of our society and refrat them

    through the mirror of ancient mythologies. They

    deploy myths that are particular to their

    localities and those that with time, have

    assumed continental status.

    For our better understanding of the above assertion, suffice it to

    define at this stage what mythology is;

    Mythology is the study of myths, and myths

    themselves, which are stories told as symbols

    of fundamental truths within societies having a

    strong oral tradition. Usually myths are

    concerned with extraordinary beings and

    events. They have been one of the richest

    sources of inspiration for literature and art

    throughout the world.

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    Noteworthy, however, in the above definition of mythology, is

    that: myth are central to mythology and myths serve as means

    of giving explanations to every inexplicable event in the society.

    Hence, myths are the means of conceptualizing and resolving

    all possible, unlike able social relationships and thus present

    the fundamental structures of human thought. Thus the

    contemporary Nigerian literature, like other African literature,

    deploy myths as mirror to reflect the social vices in Nigeria.

    Quote obviously, the two literary generation literature in

    Nigeria, in term of ideology, are poles apart, this ideological

    disparity, not withstanding, the two generations share what

    Obafemi referred to as the common backcloth of the traditional

    theatrical performance. Mean while, unlike their predecessors

    (i.e. vernacular dramatists) their exploration of myths are in

    thienced, to a greater extent, by the Western education they

    have acquired and this, in no small measure, dictates their

    social vision and ideological beliefs.

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    The first generation literature, on the one hand, tends to

    offer metaphysical and tropic interpretations of social and

    mythical material. These they do by making conscious efforts

    to propose a tropic mytho-ritual vision for society through art.

    On the other hand, the second generation literature

    writers anchor their writings based on the contemporary social

    problems in Nigeria with the aim of raising mass awareness of

    a positives revolutionary alternatives to the present decadence

    sequal to this, they articulate in their text a dialectical

    materialists perspective of art and society via an exciting view

    upon a critical relationship with indigenous culture. Indicating

    their ideological disparity Obafemi says:

    What distinguishes these younger writers from

    their predecessors is their emphatic dedication

    to a revolutionary aim towards raising mass


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    Without a shadow of doubt, the two generations, in social

    vision and ideology, are distinct but the point still holds that they

    share the same Nigerian mythic background.

    One may expand on this lea by taking a look at Soyinkas

    and Osofisans view on myth in dramatic texts. Wole Soyinka,

    an epitome of first generation writers says that the major duty of

    a playwright is to interpret myths for social awareness. This

    duty, he must do even if politician are exploring propaganda to

    obscure mythic existence and meanings:

    The role of the artist, Soyinka argued, is not to

    make myths, but to interpret them, not to give

    society an identity but to make it aware of its

    essence, however offuserated that essences

    has been by the politicians metoric.

    Conversely, Femi Osofisan, an epitome of second

    generation, holds the view that an artist can only discharge his

    artistic obligation to the society by making new myths:

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    The role of a truly committed artist is to forge

    new myths to reflect wholesome revolutions in

    the society. In Ososfisan, secular myths seem

    to be favoured. The world is damped on the

    shoulders of man who accepts the challenge by

    creating a new social order where there in be

    no room for oppression and injustice.

    That the two playwright deploy myth in their works to

    reflect the Nigeria social vices is an indisputable fact. While

    Soyinka deploys myths interpretatively, Osafisan explore the

    same myth re-interpretatively. However, it must be noted that

    neither of them present the exact old myth of Nigeria.

    Delineating this fact, Ibidokun observes that:

    Religion is an opium to the mind and so could

    religious myth be, to the serious drama of

    reality and history. While Soyinka moves from

    historical contemporaries ness into myth,

    Osofisan undertakes the very oppositetrajectory. As Soyinka centre the dramatic

    conflict within Elesin Obas soul, Osofisan

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    pitches his own right in the society. But both

    debunk the myths they use.

    Further our argument from the aforementioned point, we

    can borrow Buttmann Rudolfs theological term to categorize

    the two types of mythic interaction in Nigeria. Buttman Rudolf a

    German theologian, in 1941, proposed the term

    demythologization when he radically maintained that the trask

    of Christian faith is to reject the mythological setting of the

    Gospel and to recover the meaning hidden within the myths.

    That is to interpret, according to the categories of existentialist

    philosophy the essential message in mythical term. Thus:

    ..demythologization refers to the conscious

    efforts people make to purify a religious

    tradition of its mythological elements.

    Applying Buttmarns propostion to Amos Tutuolas

    mythological new, we can propose that Tutuola uses myths


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    Yoruba religion is intertwined with history, with Yoruba

    charming to decend from dimities, and some Kings becoming

    deified after their deaths. Itan is the word for the sum of Yoruba

    religion, poetry, sing and history. Yoruba divities are called

    Orisha and make up one of the most complex pantheon in oral

    history. Ifa is complex system of divination, involves recital of

    Yoruba poetry containing story and proverb bearing on the

    divination. A divination recital can take a whole right. The body

    of this poetry is vart and passed on between Ifa Oracles.

    The first novel in the Yoruba language was Ogboju Ode

    ninu Igbo Irumole (The forest of a Thousand Demons). Written

    in 1938 by Chief Damelo Fagunwa (1903- 963). It contains the

    picaresque tale of a Yoruba hunter encountering folklore

    elements, such as magic, monster, spirits, and gods. It was one

    of the first novels to be written in any African language.

    Fagunwa wrote other works bared on similar themes, and

    remains the most widely read Yoruba language author.

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    Amos Tutuola (1920-1997) was greatly inspired by

    Fagunwa, but wrote in an intentionally ramblings broken

    English, reflecting the oral tradition. Tutuola gained fame or the

    palm-wine Drunkard (1946, published 1952), and other works

    based on Yoruba folklore.

    African literature mostly possess its own specific

    character like other literature regims or continents, specifically,

    we had literature of the ancient Greece. (The pussical literature)

    the Roman literature of the middle ages, the renaissance

    literature, the modernist and vamus type of literature which

    have bean created in recent time. African literature was it own

    distinct period (literary) for instance the older literary production

    which most people would tag as residual literature. There is a

    type recognized as dominant, and them , the emergent species

    of literature. Across this forms of African literature the oral

    tradition his been employed to give a distinct African content

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    and aesthetic convention to what the literature of Africa most

    necessarily be.

    Mythology is an essential