A Modern History of the Somali: Nation and State in the Horn of Africa
Long before people could turn to books for instruction and amusement, they relied upon storytellers for answers to their questions about life. Africa boasts a particularly rich oral tradition, in which the griot — village historian — preserved and passed along cultural beliefs and experiences from one generation to the next. This collection of 30 timeless fables comes from the storytellers of Nigeria, whose memorable narratives tell of promises kept and broken, virtue rewarded, and treachery punished. Ajapa the Tortoise — a trickster, or animal with human qualities — makes frequent appearances among the colorful cast of talking animals. In "Tortoise Goes Wooing," he learns a valuable lesson in friendship and sharing. Ajapa's further adventures describe how, among other things, he became a chief, acquired all of the world's wisdom, saved the king, tricked the lion, and came to be bald. Recounted in simple but evocative language, these ancient tales continue to enchant readers and listeners of all ages.