Worried by the real possibility of the Yorùbá language becoming endangered as a result of the following reasons (among others):
Folktales serve as an important means of handing down Yorùbá traditions and customs from one generation to the next, and they are passed down by words of mouth. Today, however, the tradition of oral story-telling is vanishing in the Yorùbá society.
Yorùbá children are no more accustomed to gathering together by moonlight to be told stories that centre on human and animal character types by the adults, and by that reducing to a great extent their connection to the cultural values of the Yorùbá people. The rationale for the choice of folktales for the Centre’s cartoon project, therefore, is to help connect the kids (as well as adults) to the cultural values of the Yorùbá people.
Focus is on tortoise stories because the tortoise is an important and most recurring character type in Yorùbá folktakes.
The Yorùbá folktales about the tortoise on which suitable storylines are to be prepared for the Centre’s cartoon project include (but not limited to) the following:
The tortoise used his wiles to get the Elephant to town
The fight between the Tortoise and the Elephant
The Tortoise yanked out the Elephant’s teeth
The Tortoise and the Native Bitter Tomato Farmer
The Tortoise made Princess Bọla who was dumb able to speak
The Tortoise, Leopard and other Animals
The Tortoise and the Dog
The Tortoise and the Pigeon
The Tortoise and the Akara Hawker
The Tortoise and the Snail
The Tortoise and Three Sibling Brothers
The Tortoise and a Boy
The Tortoise and the Goddess of Agriculture
The Tortoise and the Monkey
The Tortoise and Kerebuje (a beautiful girl)
The Tortoise waged war against the Parrot
The Tortoise and the Snail set a Snare
The Tortoise and Jigo, the young Huntsman
The Tortoise and the Sellers and Buyers in the Market
The Tortoise used his Wiles to marry Three Princesses
The Tortoise and the Woman Selling Groundnuts
The Tortoise and the Turtle Dove jointly made a farm
The Tortoise and the Unripe Palm Fruit
The Tortoise and the Dog went to steal some yams by digging them up.
The Tortoise, the Farmer, and his Children
The Tortoise, the Ram, and the Calabash
The Tortoise went to the Dog’s Mother’s place to eat
The Tortoise and the Crab
The Tortoise, the Snail, and the Ọṣin’s Hunchback
The Tortoise, Asin (Rat) and the Squirrel
The Tortoise and the Red Colobus Monkey
The Tortoise stealthily drew water from a well dug by the Animals
The Tortoise and the Slender Edible Frog
The Tortoise and the Palm wine Tapper
The Tortoise and the Dog
It is anticipated that the Centre’s animated cartoon series will appeal to viewers of all ages worldwide. They will also make a huge impact on the teaching and learning of Yorùbá language not only at the pre-primary, primary, and secondary levels of education but also as a second and a foreign language. Besides, they will act as a catalyst for changing the people’s negative mindset (especially the elite class) regarding the use of Yorùbá language in various communicative domains and specialized fields.
The Centre for Yoruba Language Engineering (CEYOLENG), University of Ibadan, Nigeria, is currently using animated cartoons, purely in the medium of Yorùbá, as an instrument for Yorùbá language revitalization, and vigorously applying digital technology as a strategy for preserving, protecting and promoting Yoruba folktales as a vital form of the Yoruba people’s indigenous knowledge system and living cultural heritage.
CEYOLENG’s animated cartoon series are also a useful audiovisual tool for teaching and learning Yorùbá language and culture at the pre-primary, primary, and secondary levels of education, and as a second or a foreign language.
The first five episodes of the folktale entitled ‘Ìjàpá tan erin wọ ìlú’ (The tortoise used his wiles to get the elephant to town) are now available on Youtube – click on ceyoleng.
The episodes are characterized by traditional narrative techniques of the Yorùbá people, funny animal character types mingling with humans, rich vocabulary and good diction, beautiful songs, lyrics and melodies, an informative traditional mode of administration, instructive morals or lessons, etc.
The CEYOLENG Yorùbá cultural cartoon video project is in phases. Phase 1, with emphasis on folktales based on tortoise stories, intends to resurrect, in a digital format, the now virtually abandoned traditional practice of children gathering together by moonlight to listen to stories that centre on human and animal character types thereby intimately connecting them to the cultural values of the Yoruba people. Folktales as we all know, are important means of handing down Yorùbá traditions and customs from one generation to the next as well as a vital form of the Yorùbá people’s indigenous knowledge system and living cultural heritage. This explains, in part, why phase 1 of the project focuses on folktales. Also, emphasis is on tortoise stories because the tortoise is an important and most recurring character type in Yoruba folktales. In phase 2 of the project, digital technology will similarly be used as a strategy for promoting other societal issues embraced by the concept of the YORÙBÁ ỌMỌLÚÀBÍ as well as various modernistic issues. CEYOLENG is fully committed to the idea of using electronic or digital technology for executing its Yoruba language engineering and revitalisation agenda.