Monday, December 16, 2019

Morals for the next generation (Following folktales around the world 135. - Malawi)

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! 

Malawi ​Folktales 1
Veronica Maele
AGLC Press, 2003.

The book contains fifteen folktales, collected by the author from her own older relatives. The goal of the book, according to the introduction, was to offer traditional stories to the next generation from their own culture, teaching them through morals that have not been passed through because of social changes between generations. To support this goal, the book has an educational chapter at the end, with questions and teaching help. There are also some black-and-white illustrations.


I really enjoyed the story of Kilapo and the witches. Kilapo was a sick boy (probably with leprosy), whom his own family wanted to exile into the wilderness, but he had one loyal friend who spent time with him even when he was not supposed to. He invited Kilapo along on a trip with other children, even though Kilapo waked slowly, and all the other kids made fun of them. The group ended up in a cave of witches, and, of course, it was Kilapo who saved everyone in the end.
The story of The woodcutter and the bird was also beautiful. The woodcutter found a beautiful rich forest, but every time he cut down some trees, the clearing disappeared by the next day. He eventually managed to catch a glimpse of a magic bird that flew in, and revived the trees with its song. The woodcutter gave up and moved elsewhere.
I also liked the story in which a kind bird gave wings to the grasshoppers so that they would not have to hop everywhere. Another pourquoi story explained why frogs look the way they do - and not the way they used to, back in the old days, when they had pretty horns and luscious white fur.


I was surprised to find a variant of the Ant and the Grasshopper - the moral was the same (gather food for hard times), but in the end the neighboring mouse took pity on the grasshopper, and gave him enough food to survive the winter.

The story of the red mangoes was similar to all the folktales about stolen golden apples, except here the youngest boy was very kind to the bird, and when his brothers wanted to take it from him, a wizard appeared out of nowhere, and chastised them. There was also a "kind and unkind girls" story.
I was reminded of a West African Anansi story by the tale of Lizard and his three wives. He won them by guessing their secret names - but in the end they ran away with other men, and Lizard was okay with it, as long as he could visit sometimes, which is why you tend to find lizards inside the house.
There was yet another "tricky invitation" tale where Tortoise and Monkey invited each other for lunch, but didn't actually get to eat any food; and also an ungrateful lion, tricked back into the trap by a clever Hare to help a medicine man.

Where to next?

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