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AFRICA - AFRICAN - AFRICANS
Stories, Fairy Tales, Folklore, Fables, Nursery Rhymes,
Myths, Legends, Bible, Classics, Facts and Fiction

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Books about Africa - Children
SOS - Searching Out Stories/Info about Africa
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers,
Teachers and Librarians

 

 

BOOKS ABOUT AFRICA AND AFRICANS- CHILDREN

Book titles are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
To retell any stories, obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience and to save you research time.

African Folktales (Pantheon Fairy Tale & Folklore) by Roger Abrahams. (1983 - Ages 9-12)
Nearly 100 stories from over 40 tribe-related myths of creation, tales of epic deeds, ghost stories and tales set in both the animal and human realms.

Book of African Fables (The) (Studies in Swahili Languages and Literature, 3) by Jan Knappert. (2001)
This work gives examples of the interplay of animals and human beings in the folk tale. The aspects of behaviour of the animals represents the character of a human being. These tales are those specifically for children, and can be classified on the basis of their purpose.

Favorite Folktales from Around the World (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library), selected by Jane Yolen. See Talk, p. 246. (1988)
Storytelling, the oral tradition that springs directly from folk archives, is well served in this one-volume collection culled from Pantheon's folklore series. The 160 tales are grouped thematically in 13 chapterse.g. "The Very Young and the Very Old," "Fooling the Devil" taken from a variety of cultures: Eskimo, Irish, American Indian, Afro-American, Chinese, etc.

Talk, Talk: An Ashanti Legend (Legends of the World) by Deborah M. Chocolate. (1998 - Ages 9-12)
Jumaani thinks he's heard a yam talk, and now he's off to the village to tell the chief in this delightful Ashanti legend. The Legends of the World opens readers' minds to the diverse cultures of Native America, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and the Americas through enchanting tales passed down through countless generations.
Contains geographical, historical and cultural information.

Too Much Talk: A West African Folktale by Angela Shelf Medearis. Illustrated by Stefano Vitale.
(1995 - Ages 4-8)
When the yam he is digging up talks back, the farmer can't believe it. His fisherman neighbor is equally skeptical until his catch gives him some lip. The pattern is repeated with other members of the community. However, when the group tells its collective tale to the chief, he dismisses it until he is taught a lesson by his talking throne.

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SOS - SEARCHING OUT STORIES AND INFORMATION ABOUT AFRICA - AFRICAN STORIES
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians

(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

Book titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Story and song titles are in quotation marks.
To retell any stories, obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
Posts are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World.

1) You can have students design kente cloth and actually weave strips of the different colors through black paper, design an African mask, collect leaves and put them in a plastic bag overnight, dew or water sets on them and shows how the humid weather makes some moisture on the leaves for them to suck, science experiment I found in Susan Millard book. Story I like best is "Why Frog and Snake Don't Play Together." Be careful about asking them if they could think of another ending. Last time I told it someone said the frog could jump on the snake and bite off the snake's head. See what TV message gets to the kids.


2) I am not sure if any of these will work for your needs but take a look.
Click here: CCC - Multicultural Sample Unit 2 - Suggested Activities - School District of Philadelphia Curriculum

SCORE Teacher Guide: African Folktales
http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/afolk/afolktg.html

Activities for African Folk Tales (Lesson Plan)
http://www.teachervision.com/lesson-plans/lesson-3721.html

CIMC Integrated Units: "Anansi the Spider"
http://libweb.uncc.edu/cimc/integration/Units/Anansi.htm


Ghana: Welcome to KidsGardening! Garden Resources, Gardening for Families, Teacher's Garden and Shopping for Gardening
http://www.kidsgardening.com/ambassador/ghana00/theme5.asp


3) There is a brief reference to a story called "One Stick, Two Stick" in Women Who Run with the Wolves. It is an African story (what country it does not say). Basically an old king calls all his people together and has them each take a stick, then try to break it. Alone each person can be easily broken. Then each person takes another stick, then puts them together in bundles of 2 or 3. Of course, no one can break them. When we stand together we cannot be broken.

RESPONSES:

a)
Basically, an old king calls all his people together and has them each take a stick, then try to break it. Alone each person can be easily broken. Then each person takes another stick, then puts them together in bundles of 2 or 3. Of course, no one can break them. When we stand together we cannot be broken.


b)
Chaucer uses a version of this tale in "Troilus and Cressyde" but I can't remember how much of it he uses. Doesn't Aesop use it as well? I seem to recall he does. And of course Ben Franklin was frightfully fond of it, as I seem to remember Maybe it's one of those universal stories!


c) Eh, that's a good one, Johnny, but it ain't the way I heard it.... Three sons stood around the deathbed of their father. Just as he knew he was to die, he sent his servant to get the family goblet. This goblet was made of gold, jewel encrusted and had been passed down through the generations for hundreds of years. The father ordered the goblet to be filled with wine and signaled his sons to come closer to his bed. "My sons," he said in a voice barely above a whisper, "this goblet is the pride of our family. When you drink from it, always drink from here." He feebly indicated the point closest to his lips. "But father," the oldest son asked, "why would you have us drink only from that side of the goblet?" "Did I raise fools? You drink from this side because if you drink from the far side the wine will spill down your shirtfront!" And so it is and so it will ever be.


4)
The story of "The King's Drum" from The King's Drum and Other African Stories, Harold Courlander 1962 and reprinted in: A Treasury of African Folklore: The Oral Literature, Traditions, Myths, Legends, Epics, Tales, Recollections, Wisdom, Sayings, and Humor of Africa by Harold Courlander, Marlowe & Company 1996.

As far as compilations of oral literature from subsaharan Africa goes, this is one of the best. The problem is there aren't very good ones to compare it too. The translations are weak, in that they are vague and incomplete. The author reduces the African stories to the simplest sentences in order to be as brief as possible. Surely the story teller, in story telling mode, were more eloquent and elaborate. However, this is lost because the book is more concerned with giving accounts of numerous African stories rather than giving detailed accounts of just several.

Also, the colonial mentality of the author, though not as severe as his European contemporaries in the early 20th century, shines through. Thus even by around 1972, when this compilation was completed it was largely based on stories collected and written by the author and other European oral collectors decades earlier, during colonialism.

Bones of "The King's Drum":
The King wants to hold court, but it takes everyone a long time to get there - the news spreads too slowly. Anansi's idea is to make a special drum. When the royal drum is heard, everyone must come at once. Work squads are formed, and everyone has a turn at making the drum. But Anansi sees that Monkey is shirking. When the drum is made, none of the animals want to be the one who has to carry it. Everyone suggests someone else. Anansi suggests that since no-one wants to carry it, that the laziest of all should carry it. All eyes gradually turn to Monkey. Monkey states emphatically that under no circumstances would he ever carry the drum. "But no-one asked you to..." Monkey's own refusal revealed him to be the laziest, so it's his own fault that he now has to carry the drum. Serves him right, the little tyke.


5) One of the highlights of my trip to the Okavango Delta in Botswana was hearing some traditional African stories. On the second night in camp, Thaba (the main mokoro guide and headman of the village 300 yards away from our camp) brought over his homemade setekane (thumb piano or mbira) and started playing it. After he stopped, I told him I knew a story about hyena and a mbira and told a version of "The dancing hyena". He got a huge smile and then told us this story about zebra, crocodile, hyena, and hare. It's one I had never heard before. I've tried to leave much of the story in his words.

And for the next 2 days, if there was a quiet spell while watching animals from cover of the reeds in the water, he would pole his mokoro closer to the one I was riding in so we could share more stories.

Thaba’s story of "Zebra and Crocodile":

A long time ago zebra and crocodile both lived in the bush. One day zebra went to drive water in the river. Crocodile saw her and said, “You are beautiful.”

Zebras drink once a day and live far away in the hot desert. The next day when zebra came to drink water again in the river, crocodile said, “Let’s get married.”

“But there’s a problem,” zebra said. “I live in the desert and I don’t want to live in the water.”

Crocodile said, “No problem, I’ll move with you into the desert.” Crocodile crawled out of the water and set off walking next to zebra into the desert. By 10 o’clock it’s hot and crocodile starts panting. By 11 o’clock, crocodile was very hot. He stopped and said “Enough!”

Zebra said, “My home still far away in the desert. It’s still a long walk.”

Crocodile said, “I’m not walking any more.” So Zebra said goodbye and left him behind.

Along came hare. Hare saw how hot and miserable crocodile was and told him to bury himself in the sand under an umbrella tree while he runs off to bring help. Hare dashed off to get hyena.

Hare asked, “Hyena, why don’t you carry crocodile back down to the river and put him in the water ? If you leave him there for 25 minutes, then he’ll be done. Then you will have a big meal.”

Hyena said, “I want to eat him now, he’s my crock pot, ready to go.”

Hare said, “No, that won’t work. He’s too dry. Do what I say and carry him back to the river.”

So Hyena picked up the crocodile and he walked and he walked and he walked -- all the way back to the river. But crocodile was very heavy and he kept slipping. Hyena slung him over his back and kept on pushing him up, pushing him up, pushing him up with his front legs.

Finally hyena arrived at the river and he laid crocodile back into the water.

Hare told hyena, “Come back in 25 minutes, I’ll watch over crocodile and I’ll make sure he is done.” Hyena left, planning on coming back when his meal is ready.

But Hare asked crocodile, “Are you okay? If you are – go, go. Leave now while you can.” And crocodile swam off.

When hyena came back, he asked, “Where’s my dinner? Where did crocodile go?”

Hare said, “He is gone, he swam away.”

And that’s why hyena’s front legs are so much longer than his back ones.
Batsy B. 8/19/09


6) Rene Guillot's African Folk Tales - Rene Guillot, illus. by Wm. Papas, selected and translated by Gwen Marsh. (1965).

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Created 2005; last update 8/24/09

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