Some weeks ago, I received a message from an American magazine:
Is this a working email address for you? I see you wrote a book of Yoruba folk tales and there’s something I’m trying to find out about that tradition and wondering if you would know: Namely, is there a trickster character in Yoruba folklore, a crow who goes by the name of “Jim”? People have claimed this, but I haven’t seen anything to confirm it.
(Big Editor )
Hi (Big Editor)
This is indeed one of my several working emails . I am more correctly an African folklorist and have so far written four collections of Yoruba folktales alone as well as other collections from all over Africa. To your question, Jim is not a Yoruba name and neither is it derived from any Yoruba name. The crow also is a carrion eating bird and it is associated with death and evil events in Yoruba folklore. The staple tricksters in Yoruba folklore are the tortoise and the fox even though the role of the latter as a trickster seemed derived from Western folklore.
I hope I have answered your question. If not please do contact me again whenever you wish,
Big Editor :
Thank you. That's helpful information. I wish there were such a character, but this helps me keep my article accurate.
The story: Jim Crow is a derisive description of a black man. Racist elements have somehow been trying to sell the suggestion that the name originated from Yoruba folklore and so was more complimentary than abusive. Somehow it has been difficult to find an African-American deep enough in African culture to challenge this error. This is the challenge that our mis-educated children are likely to face tomorrow. Strangers will be easily able to persuade them to accept what they do not deserve, out of mere ignorance.
Note to my people : To discover yourself is the highest form of freedom.