A Hausa taledescribes how a man married an antelope woman who, when her hus-band reveals her secret, returns to the forest with her children. He is patient, he is not angry. The love for the chief is proclaimed by repetition. Osaw took the ears and made a great juju, and by reason of this a strongwind arose and drove the boy earthward. SoOduduwa, among the Yoruba, descends to earth on a chain, and amongthe Ndorobo God himself climbs down to earth on a rope with thefirst men. His eye is full of joy. In yet another account Tortoisefights with Dog, gets his shell broken, and has it fixed by a passingtraveler.

Arnott, writing about Fulani riddles, mentions that “the’question’ consists of a brief description of some phenomenon and its. In a well-known plot Hare induces Hyena and Ostrich to tie up theirmothers and beat them. They were story-tellers, actors, acrobats and buffoons,privileged to mock and criticise their superiors. Ogbe was hunting in the bushHe was told to sacrifice lest he should meet disaster there. African oral poetry, however, is not used merely as a vehicle of emo-tion, for often a more complicated and significant meaning has to beexpressed. ANupe myth depicts how the women were lured by honey and sugar-cane to the village of the men and how they learned about sex. Because the function of legend is often so blatantly etiological in itsmost restrictive sense, it is only in the legends of hunters, warriors, andthe relatives of gods that the hero comes into his own. He rests in the sky like a swarm of bees.

What one does find a great deal of are “hero tales,” which recountthe adventures of a single person as he attempts to overcome varioustasks and quests, etiological tales, which attempt to explain natural phe-nomena, and fables, which are animal stories with a moral purpose. Some make thepoint even more obviously; a Kikuyu proverb warns that “one’s bodyis not a banana leaf which should be rent.

He is dead,He becomes a lizard that feeds on the walls. But it constitutes aminoritythe major part of oral African song is praise poetry.

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The daily life of the tribal African shows theinteraction of mores, economic demands and religious ceremonials withartistic expression. Obatalawho turns blood into children. In these stories a certain fortunate pattern ofevents follows a certain action, and later another person fails to carryout the precise instructions, suffering as a result.

Could younot put down the bottle of thoughts that you might cross the tree andthen take it up again?

Live to a good old age. Even the sunonce lived on earth, according to a “Bushman” myth, but the GreatMother instructed her children to lift it up into the sky to give light tothe “Bushmen. Therefore at this momentin African history it is not too difficult to make the distinction betweenoral and written literature, since the oral is still being passed down fromone generation to another.


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Morris states that there is a type of praise song, the ebyevugo,which “deals with exploits in battle and records not only the composer’sheroism but also that of his companions. Do you believe God is dead? The signs making up the Nsibidi script are fairly conventional, con-sisting mainly of bent or straight lines in a number of combinations. Very soon the water was knee-deep, so he asked the sun if it was stillsafe, and the sun again chimaa, “yes” so more water came in.

By way of conclusion, it should be emphasized that riddles constitutean important asafir in the oral literature. The Bagam script, which is the written form of theEyap language, has been summarily dismissed by L. Those who are poor owe their property to him. Chimx “romanticism” is notgenerally the case, however; there is praise but very rarely adoration. In a Sierra Leonean story Hare discovers away of getting food by taking blows from a tree.

I have only one cloth to dye with blue indigo,I have only one headtie to dye with red camwood,But I knew that you keep twenty or thirty children for meWhom I shall bear. The love for the chief is proclaimed by repetition.

May years be added to your years. Often no moraljudgment is made; the consequences are only the result of the natureof circumstances. He shifts fromrole to role with fluidity and grace. This rigidity of structure will again be observedin other sacred songs. He then returnsalone and ferries across the corn, leaving the fox on the other side ofthe river. If there is little of the epidode in African folktales,and consequently little of the true Mdrchen, then those tales that arefound should be classified as belonging asator the “novella” where “actionoccurs in a real world with sn time and place and though marvelsdo appear, they are such as apparently call for the hearer’s belief in away that the Mdrchen does not.

Live to a good chjma age, chief,The Earth Amponyinamoa says,She showers her blessings on you,Live to a good old age. Recently two scripts were invented in Somaliland; both are writtenfrom left to right choma the older, invented about by Isman YuusufKana, owed little to Arabic.

His eye is full of joy. He has acarved wooden board covered with white flour, and ne nuts. A raconteur revealed his verbal virtuosity in the wayin which he adorned the bare substance of his recitative.

As in the een song, this one ends with a reference to children. There is no overlapping of heroes and, with fewexceptions, there never is more than one hero in the same story. Dis girl done do fo’ married, but no man dewey able fo’ married um, because de mammy no’ gree.

Instead of triumph, there is bathos. The Basumbwa in East Africa havea story in which Death appears to a man and shows him two sidesanugly and a beautiful,21 and the Yoruba tell the tale of Eshu and his hatwith three colors which set three farmers arguing. The triumphs at the end of some legends are not always obvious; ina story from the Bosso-Sorokoi people in Niger, a sorceress namedPa-sini-Jobu resurrects a ram and then fights three water spirits to helpher epislde Queen Namanj.


It has a definite structure, divided into fivesections”a pithy saying which is conveyed in verse,” a story which is”the kernel of the recital from the point of view of divination,” a liturgywhich is the “means of communication with the object of worship,”songs, and proverbs.

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The actions of Tortoise demonstrate certain aspects of the tale. This is dpisode tradition that did not surviveamong Blacks in the New World, since there was no functional needfor it. Thanksare also due cuima the University of Wisconsin and The Ohio State Uni-versity for small grants that aided me asatkr compiling this work. Let stream to earth the thundercloud,give life to us. The water’s politeness and the grim obstinacy of the sun are apparenthere, as is the myth’s general meaning that the truest and fullest life isclosely bound to the earth; it is folly that forced the sun into the sky.

He takes from the rich and gives to the poor. A note of pathos is struck in theBaganda one which affirms that “death is like a wild animal,” as wellas in the Ga proverb that states cryptically aastir dry leaf falls and thegreen leaf falls. Nketia goes a little further and claims that”the use of proverbs is not confined to the poem; they are quoted inmany situationsin the home, at work, at the court.

I am so stricken with weakness,I thirst and I hunger. The flood occurs for no important reason; among theGogo, it was simply because they never had any rain and the frogsstarted croaking. The intention is the samethe flippant reference shocks the listenerinto a new awareness. I am not the heir to wealthI am only good at travelling in time of fortune. Tortoise features in another kind of tale in which cumulative inci-dents add up t a significant whole.

Here, quite naturally, since this is the art of a pastoralpeople, the cow is equated with the divine:. Most myths describe the timewhen the sexes lived separately; the women have to be lured away. In theworld of African myths, nothing is assumed; neither death nor evil isseen as just one thing or the other.

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