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Arokin Tales



West Africa

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Anansi Runs On Water








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Africa is, of course, wildly diverse in every aspect, and African culture and storytelling reflects that diversity. Whether you look at creation and flood myths, or at the wonderful tales rooted in animism, these stories are always a delight.

Folktales reflect a group cultural identity and storytelling affirms pride and identity in a culture. For those of us for whom Africa is a foreign land, these stories provide insights into community beliefs and customs. For people within those communities, storytelling allows them to encompass and express their group's uniqueness.

As with so many cultures, folktales are also seen as a tool for education and entertainment. They provide a way for children to understand the world around them and their place within it. Most stories here have a moral, and are often set in fantastic, non-human worlds. The main characters in many of these stories are talking animals, reflecting close relationships with nature, and even though folktales are for often told for entertainment, they also bring a sense of belonging and pride to communities in Africa.

Animal tales are often more oriented towards entertainment, but still have morals and lessons to them. Animal tales are normally divided into trickster tales and ogre tales. In the animal tales, a certain animal would always have the same character or role in each story so the audience does not have to worry about characterization.

The Hare was always the trickster, clever and cunning, while the Hyena was always being tricked by the Hare. Ogres are always cruel, greedy monsters.

Day-to-Day tales are the most serious tales designed to explain everyday life and struggles in a community. These tales take on matters such as famine, death, courtship, and family matters, sometimes using a song form when they reach their climax.

Some of these themes are also prevalent in traditional religious beliefs. Animism, for example, facilitates many of the core concepts of traditional African religions, including the worship of tutelary deities, nature worship, ancestor worship and the belief in an afterlife. While some religions adopted a pantheistic worldview, most follow a polytheistic system with various gods, spirits and other supernatural beings. Many traditional African religions also have elements of fetishism, shamanism and veneration of relics.

Traditional African religions can be broken down into linguistic cultural groups, with common themes. Among Niger–Congo-speakers is a belief in a creator God, force or higher deity, which is considered by some to be a widespread and ancient feature of Niger-Congo-cultures

Traditional African medicine is also directly linked to traditional African religions and storytelling. The belief in spirits and ancestors is an important element of African religions, where Gods were often self-created or evolved from spirits or ancestors. That being said, in more recent years it is also true that African folk religions were strongly influenced by non-African religions, mostly Christianity and Islam and have, therefore, evolved and may differ from the more ancient forms. However expressed it remains important that ancestral ghosts and spirits are an integral part of reality.

The ancestors are generally believed to reside in an ancestral realm or spirit world, while some believe that the ancestors became equal in power to deities.
The defining line between deities and ancestors is often contested, but overall, ancestors are believed to occupy a higher level of existence than living human beings and are believed to be able to bestow either blessings or illness upon their living descendants. Ancestors can offer advice and bestow good fortune and honour to their living dependents, but they can also make demands, such as insisting that their shrines be properly maintained and propitiated. A belief in ancestors also testifies to the inclusive nature of traditional African spirituality by positing that deceased progenitors still play a role in the lives of their living descendants.


Anansi And Baboon

Anansi and Baboon were disputing one day which was fattest. Anansi said he was sure he was fat, but Baboon declared he was fatter. Then Anansi proposed that they should prove it; so they made a fire, and agreed that they should hang up before it, and see which would drop most fat.
Then Baboon hung up Anansi first, but no fat dropped.
Then Anansi hung up Baboon, and very soon the fat began to drop, which smelt so good that Anansi cut a slice out of Baboon, and said, “Oh, brother Baboon, you're fat for true.”
But Baboon didn't speak.
So Anansi said, “Well, speak or not speak, I'll eat you every bit to- day”, which he really did. But when he had eaten up all of Baboon, the bits joined themselves together in his stomach, and began to pull him about so much that he had no rest, and was obliged to go to a doctor.
The doctor told him not to eat anything for some days, then he was to get a ripe banana, and hold it to his mouth; when the Baboon, who would be hungry, smelt the banana, he would be sure to run up to eat it, and so he would run out of his mouth.
So Anansi starved himself, and got the banana, and did as the doctor told him, but when he put the banana to his mouth, he was so hungry he couldn't help eating it. So he didn't get rid of the Baboon, which went on pulling him about till he was obliged to go back to the doctor, who told him he would soon cure him, and he took the banana, and held it to Anansi's mouth, and very soon the Baboon jumped up to catch it, and ran out of his mouth, and Anansi was very glad to get rid of him. And Baboons to this very day like bananas..

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