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Storyteller Of The Week: Amos Tutuola, The Fantansy Storyteller Without Higher Education

“Storyteller of The Week” is a section of Station Magazine that brings to fore the weekly profiling of great storytellers in various creative endeavors. In order to celebrate great people living or dead who have or are making a difference in Africa storytelling.

These storytellers range from, Writers, to photographers, to filmmakers, to actors and actresses, creative artist, etc.

Today Our “Storyteller Of The Week” Is a writer and Fantasy novelist, Amos Tutuola.

Amos Tutuola (Station Magazine)

Amos Tutuola was born in Abeokuta Ogun State to cocoa farmers.

Best known for his novel ‘The Palm-Wine Drinkard’ and ‘His Dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Deads’ Town (1952), Tutuola is internationally acclaimed for his richly inventive fantasies.

Tutuola had only six years of formal school training at  Salvation Army primary school, sponsored by his master, an Igbo man, who he worked for as a servant.

Tutuola worked as a blacksmith, a trade he practiced from 1942 to 1945 for the Royal Air Force in Nigeria as a result of his father’s death.

Influenced by the works of D.O. Fagunwa, a Nigerian author who wrote similar folk fantasies earlier in Yoruba, and other works he came across, Tutuola started writing in the English Language, though his writings were not too good.

In 1946, Tutuola completed his first full-length book, The Palm-Wine Drinkard, within a few days. In 1947 he married Victoria Alake, with whom he had four sons and four daughters.

Tutuola is known for incorporated Yoruba myths, legends, and Yoruba Folktales into his prosaic narration as exemplified in his first novel ‘The Palm-Wine Drinkard’.

The Palm Wine Drinkard Book Cover
The Palm Wine Drinkard Book Cover

Not deterred by his limited education, Tutuola wrote in the English language. He joined the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in Ibadan, Western Nigeria as a storekeeper.

His next book after his first is ‘My Life in the Bush of Ghosts’, Simbi and the Satyr of the Dark Jungle (1955), The Brave African Huntress (1958), others include The Feather Woman of the Jungle (1962), Ajaiyi and His Inherited Poverty (1967), and The Witch-Herbalist of the Remote Town (1981).

His later works include Yoruba Folktales (1986), Pauper, Brawler, and Slanderer (1987), and The Village Witch Doctor and Other Stories (1990).

His most internationally acclaimed book, The Palm-Wine Drinkard is a classic quest tale in which the hero, a lazy boy who likes to spend his days drinking palm wine, gains wisdom, confronts death, and overcomes many perils in the course of his journey. The book has been translated into 11 languages.

The University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) at Ile-Ife hosted him as a research follower in 1979, while in 1983, The University of Iowa engaged him as an associate of the International Writing Program.

In 2015, the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, under the leadership of Wole Adedoyin, founded the Amos Tutuola Literary Society (www.amostutuolaliterarysociety.blogspot.com), aimed at promoting and reading the works of Amos Tutuola.

Amos Tutuola died at the age of 76 in 1998

About Author

Joshua Oyenigbehin is an introvert who is passionate about Storytelling, writing, and teaching. He sees his imagination as an unsearchable world, more magical than a fairyland. He has written a novel and working on another

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