Monday, December 9, 2019

Tales, word for word (Following folktales around the world 134. - Zambia)

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!

Folktales ​from Zambia
Texts In Six African Languages And In English
Dorothea Lehmann
Dietrich Reimer, 1983.

The book contains nineteen folktales, collected in the 1960s by a German linguist who was researching the languages of the newly independent country. The introduction tells us about the types and language of the stories, the context of collecting them, and the way they were transcribed from the original by students who spoke the native languages. There was also a lot of information about the storytelling tradition - for example, a taboo against telling stories in daylight (otherwise the teller's father turns into a monkey, and their mother into porridge).
The story texts appear on the same page, one column in the original language and the other in English, in very punctual mirror translation. The book also contains a bibliography and a map.


I have seen the story of the selfish husband before, but I really liked the version in this book. During a famine a family moved into the bush. The husband found lots of honey, but hid it, and refused to share with his children, even when they begged. Finally the mother went out to hunt, and killed a large animal, but could not drag it home. The village came to her help, gave her flour and corn, and now that she had support, she divorced her selfish husband.
There was also a classic shapeshifting story about a hunter who turned into a lion. There really is not much happening in the story, other than a hunter turning into a lion, and his companions pissing themselves in fear. The lion didn't hurt anyone, though, and eventually changed back.


The magic ring was an Aladdin-story, but here it was the mother-in-law who stole the ring, and an eagle and a rat helped to get it back. I have already seen a tale similar to The hornbill and the hare once; here, the bird threatened the hare into working for him, claiming his beak was red hot and dangerous. Once he fell asleep, however, the hare found out the truth about the beak being harmless.

Where to next?

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