African stories and fables are full of magic, wonder and witchcraft. When the night comes, and the real world is vanishing in the dark the creatures of the fantasy land, the witches, magicians and monsters wake up. They are hunting through the forests, deserts and villages for the lives and souls of the human beings.
Tales of Amadou Koumba
is a collection of tales from Senegal, by Birago Diop.
Tales of Amadou Koumba, is a collection of short stories based on Senegalese folk takes. Diop claimed that Amadou Koumba was a griot, or traditional West African storyteller, that Diop had met on his travels. The tales of Amadou Koumba (Les Contes d'Amadou Koumba) feature a rivalry between hyena and a clever rabbit known as Leuk the Hare. In one story, Leuk urges the other animals to burrow with him one night to a nearby village called N'Doum, where he knows of an immense storehouse of food in a doorless hut surrounded by seven tall reed fences. The food has been stored there by King Bour, who also put his daughter there to see if she would become pregnant. "So Rat, Palm-squirrel, Civet-cat, Skunk, and the others burrowed all night till they emerged into the doorless hut, but as soon as they saw that the riches Leuk had promised them were guarded by a girl, they turned tail and fled," wrote Diop. "The memory of the misfortunes that had befallen their forebears came back to them. They remembered in time that in N'Doum girls were as skilful as boys in handling cudgels and huntingspears. So they all fled back to the bush, vowing to get their own back on Hare, who watched them scamper away."
Kwajo and the Brassman’s Secret
A tale of old Ashanti Wisdom and Gold, by Meshack Asare. April 2002, Sub-Saharan Publishers, Ghana.
Kwajo lives in Ghana, the country where the Ashantis live. Many years ago, Ashanti was a powerful kingdom. The Ashantis were and are famous as courageous warriors, merchants and artists, above all as woodcarvers, weavers, goldsmiths, drummers and dancers. In ancient times, the Ashantis owned a lot of gold. They paid with gold dust. The gold dust was weighed on scales. The weights consisted of small, exquisite figurines. Every figurine represented something different: a tree, a plant, an animal, people, a proverb or an old wisdom. These figurines were called gold wights and they were cast in bronze. People pay with money in Ghana today, just as they do in the rest of the world. But there are still artists who make gold weights. Kwajo’s father is such an artist. Through his father’s gold weights, Kwajo experiences a fantastic adventure. Kwajo's father produces traditional small figures. One day, he makes a little brass drummer. The figurine comes alive and takes Kwajo away into a land of proverbs and riddles. It is a land where the figures represent money, and the people are citizens in an old powerful kingdom. Kwajo is tempted by riches but must first decode a series of riddles and symbols. He falls at the last test, but nonetheless learns an important lesson. The Brassman's Secret won The Noma Award for Publishing in Africa 1982. It has become one of the most important children's books in Africa, and has been translated into several foreign languages. This edition is with full color-illustrations by the author.
Stories from a Shona Childhood
by Charles Muzuva Mungoshi, illustrated by Christian Kingue Epanya.
This is a collection of tales from Zimbabwe, who are generally told to children but are for all age groups. Charles Mungoshi tells fables from the oral tradition of the Shona, people who live in the today's Zimbabwe. “The human failures in understanding are a universal issue,” says Charles Mungoshi. The heroes in these stories are driven by dark intentions, by greed and cruelty. His stories tell about one ghost in the cinder, about the blind people in a village and a hungry lion who comes every night to eat up one of the blind, a bad boy and his old dog Dembo or the greedy Elephant and the hare Tsuro. As in almost all traditional African folklore animals are given human attributes which enables the reader to identity with them as if they were human characters. The stories have a compelling power which transports you to the world of myth so that you temporarily live in the world of African fantasy. All their adventures are entertaining and teaching the morals of the African societies. The heroes and animal characters are sometimes from the hereafter who demand justice and revenge, sometimes they are tricksters who play dirty tricks on others.