IRINKERINDO NINU IGBO ELEGBEJE By D.O Fagunwa (HardCover)
The Fagunwa Phenomenon
In 1938, a school teacher, David O. Fagunwa came out with a book entitled Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmale. In part because of its novelty, in part because of the richness of language, in part because it treated familiar themes and because it relied heavily on folklores with which people were familiar, Ogboju Ode was an instant success.
Fagunwa’s first novel, Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmale (1938; The Forest of a Thousand Daemons), was the first full-length novel published in the Yoruba language. Fagunwa’s works characteristically take the form of loosely constructed picaresque fairy tales containing many folklore elements: spirits, monsters, gods, magic, and witchcraft.
Also because of their classical nature, richness and because of the prolificity of its author, Fagunwa’s books (he wrote four others after Ogboju Ode) became so prodigious that they, for a long time, seemed to overshadow other writings in the same genre. Indeed, it is only recently that many, outside the circle of the educated Yorubas, are beginning to realize that there were indeed some other literary works of note before and during Fagunwa’s ‘reign’. Such was the intensity of leverage the Fagunwa’s works wielded.
The books, in order of publication are:
1. 1938, Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmale (Wole Soyinka translated the book into English in 1968 as The Forest of A Thousand Demons).
2. 1940, Irinkerindo Ninu Igbo Elegbeje (Expedition to the Mount of Thought).
3. 1946, Igbo Eledumare (The Forest of God).
4. 1949, Ireke Onibudo.
5. 1963, Adiitu Olodumare.
What a rare collection!
Besides assembling Yoruba folklores and weaving them together to form a composite narrative, Fagunwa, in each of his works, preaches ‘high morals’ from Yoruba cultural perspective as well as Christian ethos. The five works essentially deal with Yoruba traditional society. The first two works centre on how life was lived in pre-colonial Yoruba society. His latter works also consider the traditional society. But this time taking cognizance of the fact that real social and political power has shifted from Obas or traditional chiefs to the colonialists. The Fagunwa phenomenon thus represented the third landmark in the evolution of Yoruba literature.
“Because of its popularity, because of its depth and because of its uniqueness, D.O. Fagunwa’s writing is often regarded by many as the pioneer of Yoruba literature – especially the novels.”