The next time you see Ọpẹẹrẹ, the bird, if you listen carefully, you will hear him saying: “Kòfo! Kòfo! Kòfo!”
In Yorùbá, Kòfo means ‘empty’.
This is the story behind his famous cry.
Ọpẹẹrẹ was bereaved. All neighbouring birds went to commiserate with him. Agbe went. Aluko was there. Odidere was not left behind. They pleaded with Opeere to eat something. For four days they pleaded. For four days he ate nothing.
On the fifth day, someone observed that Awoko, Ọpẹẹrẹ’s best friend had not come to visit his friend. They all decided to visit Awoko to find out why he hadn’t come to commiserate with his friend.
Awoko was shocked to hear the news. He told them he had just come back from a journey. He was even more shocked when they told him that his best friend had not eaten anything for days. He thanked them and promised to do something about it.
He went to the forest. He picked six fat grasshoppers, six red nuts, and six juicy grains. He went to Ọpẹẹrẹ’s house. After the customary grieving, he laid the grasshoppers, the nuts and the grains before his friend.
He was about to start pleading with Ọpẹẹrẹ to eat when he saw that Ọpẹẹrẹ was already devouring the food and was smacking his lips.
“But I was told you refused to eat?” Awoko asked.
Ọpẹẹrẹ took time to finish the grasshopper he was holding before asking: “Who told you?”
“Well, Agbe, Odidere, and Aluko, your neighbours just left my house. And they all said that for four days they have been pleading with you to eat but you refused.”
He took another grasshopper and finished it before responding:
“Don’t mind them. It’s true that they asked me to eat. They were saying: ‘Jẹun! Jẹun!’ (Eat! Eat!) But did they give me any food? How could you be saying ‘Jeun, Jeun’ with empty mouth ‘ Enu kofo, kofo, kofo?”
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