Monday, December 23, 2019

Familiar discoveries (Following folktales around the world 136. - Mozambique)

Today I continue the blog series titled Following folktales around the world! If you would like to know what the series is all about, you can find the introduction post here. You can find all posts here, or you can follow the series on Facebook!

This is the last post in the series before a short winter break. We'll be back after the holidays!


Makua Tales 
Second Series
H. W. Woodward
Bantu Studies 9/1, 1935.

Since I could not find a book for Mozambique, I dug up an article from the Bantu Studies journal. It contains 25 Makua folktales in the original language and English mirror translation. The Makua are a Bantu ethnic group who mostly live in Mozambique (and some of them are scattered in Tanzania). The end of the article also contains a series of riddles, but they are very hard to guess for someone not familiar with Makua culture (or local flora and fauna). Most of the tales in the article belonged to familiar types, but it was nice to see them again.

Highlights

The story of Narikosha was simple and lovely. A handsome man decided not to pick a beautiful girl from among the ones that competed for him; instead, he picked a girl he loved, even though she was covered in sores.

Connections

I knew the story of The monkey's heart from many places (including Columbia). Here it was a catfish who got tricked by a monkey. The mutual invitation story, where neither host allowed the guest to eat at their party, here featured Tortoise and Monkey. There was a "flying turtle" tale as well, where turtle was being carried over water by his friend Falcon, but couldn't resist speaking, so he got dropped in the river - that's why turtles live in water.
I was happy to see my favorite "bystander intervention" folktale again - this time Rabbit tried to trick Dove into giving him her children, but Falcon showed up in time to tell her not to believe the empty threats, Rabbit can't actually hurt (or reach) her.
There was a short animal bride folktale featuring a civet cat that secretly turned into a woman when no one was looking, and cleaned a hunter's house..
The resident trickster is Hare, who usually tricked Hyena - for example, in the popular African tale type of going to visit relatives, and tricking his companion on the way multiple times. There was also a "deadly rock" type story; here Hare lured animals into a hollow log, and killed them when they got stuck (until Eland tricked him). In another story Hare kept scaring people, and eating their food when they ran away - until they caught him with the usual Tar Baby trick. On the other hand, it was also Hare who tricked the ungrateful Leopard back into the trap he had been saved from, saving Deer's life. And he also featured in a "silent princess" tale, where he made her speak by showing her a catfish in a cat trap, and a cat in a fish trap.

Where to next?
The Comoros!

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