African folk tales are full of unlikely but wonderful friendships. The stories feature friendships between children and animals and also friendships between very different animals Most of the stories are about unexpected friendships and almost always tell a lesson.
A Cat in Search of a friend by Meshack Asare
A honey-colored cat goes out in search of a friend who can protect her in the wild woods. She first asks the playful monkeys if they will be her friends and they agree, telling the cat, "You will never find better and stronger friends than us." But the monkeys run away in fear, when the chimpanzees come. So the cat plays with the chimps until the gorillas come.
The cat makes friends with bigger and bigger animals, until finally she discovers that even the largest beast, the elephant, is afraid: of the man with the gun. The cat then follows the man home, convinced he would be a good protector. Until ... the man reaches his hut and the cat watches the angry wife chasing her husband with a wooden spoon! "The woman is stronger than the strongest man," the cat decides, and stays in the hut. Only when the cat finds out what frightens the woman, and that the cat, herself, can make the woman feel safe again, she discovers: "My friend can be anybody. I alone am my own master."
Meshack Asare features in his book the value of self-representation and respect. Ages 3-5. Full colour
Sosu's Call by Meshack Asare
The story tells of Sosu, a young disabled boy who cannot walk. Sosu misses going to school and all the activities of the other children. Some people feel that he will bring bad luck to the local fishing industry or are terrified of his appearance. His only friend is his dog Fusa, who is around him all day. His village is on a lagoon, and one day when everyone is away fishing, working in the fields or at school, he raises the alarm with his drumming, and saves the village from total destruction by the sea.
The book is one of four children’s books that were included in the list of Africa’s best 100 books of the twentieth century. It also won first prize for UNESCO’s Children’s and Youth’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance.