The concept of Ẹja N b’Ákàn? is a way of making an enquiry to know whether a situation is negative or positive. It is a story centered on two deities: Ọ̀rúnmìlà (the deity of wisdom) and Olókun (the deity of the sea) according to Ifá Britannica. The two deities were known to be intimate friends in the primordial era.
Olókun whose abode is in the sea borrowed iyùn bead (the most expensive bead) from Ọ̀rúnmìlà during her festive period and refuses to return it back to Ọ̀rúnmìlà, the rightful owner of the bead.
After a long period of time that the bead has been in the custody of Olókun, Ọ̀rúnmìlà thought of sending Ẹja (fish) one of Olókun’s offsprings to get his bead from Olókun. Ẹja hastily went on that errand. It was so unfortunate that Ẹja rudely approaches Olókun. This infuriated her and refuses to give the bead to Ẹja.
Ọ̀rúnmìlà was seriously bothered when he saw that Ẹja didn’t come with the Iyùn bead, which he also needed for his Ifá Festival. He now decided to send Akàn (crab), another offspring of Olókun. Akàn sluggishly walked down to Olókun and patiently demanded the bead.
Olókun was so delighted at the approach of Akàn. She gave the bead to him and sent a message to Ọ̀rúnmìlà that anytime he is in need of anything from her, he should always send Akàn, and not Ẹja the rude child. Ọ̀rúnmìlà was happy after collecting his bead.
It was from that time that Ẹja has been labeled negative; while Akàn has been positive in Yorùbá belief system.