he orphan in Esan (Nigerian) folktales is a personality that transcends all ages. She/he signifies many phenomena ranging from the scapegoat, the underdog, the metaphysical colossus, the benevolent personality and the king. Man is in the world to communicate and the orphan in tribal folktales communicates many types of behaviour that make it necessary for humanity to really sit back and ponder over who the orphan really is, even in contemporary performance discourse. Therefore, this paper argues that the orphan is more than the hapless fellow we observe on the surface. It uses two Esan performance folktales, The Orphan and the Water-Devils and The Orphan and the Old Woman to ponder over whether mankind abuses the orphan for want of adequate knowledge of her/his various manifestations or what law governs the life of the orphan in Nigerian folktales and what the orphan signifies. It is in an attempt to provide answers to the above questions and others that this study is divided into background, the nature of Nigerian folktales about orphans, thematic concerns of Nigerian tales of orphans, analysis, findings, narrative/stylistic devices and conclusion. In the end, some recommendations are made: that government at various levels, tribal or cultural aficionados should evolve deliberate plans and programmes to address the plight of orphans, that the aesthetics and lessons of Nigerian folktales on orphans should be studied, performed and enjoyed in the different tribal areas of the country and that the orphan should be given assistance to actualise herself/himself and live a psychologically balanced life in the society......... more
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