AJÁ AND ÀGÙNTÀN
In the olden days, Aguntan, the sheep, was the most respected animal in the entire Yorubaland.
Aguntan was the embodiment of Iwapele (gentleness of character), suuru (patience) and iforiti (perseverance).
The entire world decided that Agutan was the best fellow to be crowned the king because of his wonderful character.
They made Agutan the king, and the world was happy and prosperous.
But Ijapa, the tortoise, did not like the idea.
Ijapa went to Agutan, and said, “Kabiyesi, you are a very bad person.”
Agutan, surprised, asked, “Why?”
Ijapa replied, “You know more than anybody that Aja, the dog, is very lonely.”
Agutan responded, “Well, he would have more friends if he would stop eating feces. Nobody likes anybody who eats feces.”
Ijapa, looking annoyed, said, “That is why you are such a bad fellow. Can’t you help Aja to change his ways? Can’t you just teach him to be like you?”
Agutan thought about it, then said, “You think Aja can change?
“Oh, certainly,” said the Agutan. “Anybody can change. Aja just doesn’t know any better. If Aja is given the opportunity to learn from you, then Aja could also be a better individual.”
Being such a kind one, Agutan agreed, thanked Ijapa for being so considerate, and sent a message to Aja to come to the palace.
When Aja arrived at the palace, Agutan asked him, “Will you be my friend, Aja.”
Aja was surprised. “Yes, but only on my own terms.”
Agutan, being a nice fellow, agreed. Agutan was sure he could persuade Aja to become a better individual. Aja would quickly understand and learn the difference between right from wrong, Aguntan thought, and turn into a fabulous being that everybody would admire. Aja might even be made the next king, Aguntan imagined, with a smile.
No sooner did Aja arrive did he begin to complain of hunger. Aguntan offered Aja a piece of roasted yam. Aja declined, saying he wanted his delicacy.
“Where is this delicacy?” Agutan asked?
“At the common refuse dump,” Aja replied.
“Is it feces?”
“Sure,” Aja replied. “Have you tried it before?”
“Áyàmá!” Agutan shuddered, “Olodumare forbid the thought!”
“My friend, you have no idea what you are missing,” Aja told Agutan.
“I don’t want to know,” Agutan responded.
“As my friend,” Aja said, “you could at least come with me to the refuse dump. I will eat my delicacy, and you could try it if you want. But I won’t be offended if you don’t”
“Fair enough,” Agutan said. “As a good friend, I will come with you.”
The refuse dump was at the other end of town and Aja with Agutan strolled down to the site.
People were horrified to see their highly esteemed Agutan strolling with the most despised Aja. They knew Aja was taking Agutan to the dump. But they kept their peace.
When Aja and Agutan got to the dump, Aja quickly found the delicacy he was looking for. “Ha,” said Aja, “this is the best.” Aja buried his head in it, lapping it up.”
Agutan looked on in disgust, saying, “It stinks to hell. Let’s get out of here.”
Aja said, “Won’t you try a tiny weeny bit?”
Agutan shook his head, saying, “Oh, no. I can’t even stand the look of it.”
Ijapa was watching them. He saw that Agutan declined Aja’s offer.
Ijapa quickly went to the center of the town, where the market was located, and started shouting at the top of his lungs, “Hey, everyone, Agutan and Aja are now the best of buddies.”
“Yes,” they responded, “We saw them going to the refuse dump.”
A moment later, Agutan and Aja were strolling back from the dump.
Ijapa said, “I told you so. Here they come. Àgùtàn tó bájá rìn á jẹ̀gbẹ́! When Mr. Sheep forms the habit of walking around with Mr. Dog, Mr. Sheep would learn the habit of consuming Mr. Dog’s delicacy!”
Everybody agreed. “Agutan is now a feces eater!” they shouted. “We don’t want a feces eater as our king!”
“But I have not even touched the feces,” Agutan protested.
Ijapa shouted again, “Impossible!. Àgùtàn tó bájá rìn á jẹ̀gbẹ́! When the Sheep forms the habit of walking around with the Dog, the Sheep would form the habit of consuming feces!”
That was the end of Agutan’s reign. He and his entire family and all their descendants were banned from ever wearing the crown.
That is the beginning of the proverb, Àgùtàn tó bájá rìn á jẹ̀gbẹ́.
When an industrious people, with a rich tradition of being hardworking, persevering, hopeful and gentle, willfully select or elect their leadership from a group that is associated with begging, not educating its youths and sending them to the street to panhandle and sleep in the forest, what will happen?
You must remember that when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the leader of the Yoruba Nation, the Yoruba people balanced their budgets, built the tallest building in Africa, and by 1959, had a television station in Ibadan, even ahead of many European nations.
Now where is the Yoruba Nation? Àgùtàn tó bájá rìn á jẹ̀gbẹ́