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Elephant And Frog



Central Africa

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The Dog And Kingship








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Elephant And Frog tells tales and stories that originate in Central Africa.

Like all human cultures, African folklore and religion represents a variety of social facets of the various cultures in Africa. These particular folktales are from Central African regions such as Uganda and the Congo, and they play an important role in many of these Central African cultures. Stories reflect a group's cultural identity, and preserving the stories of Africa helps to preserve many aspects of diverse and intriguing cultural groupings. Storytelling affirms pride and identity.

In Africa, stories are created by and for the ethnic group telling them. Different ethnic groups in Africa have different rituals or ceremonies for storytelling, which creates a sense of belonging to a cultural group. To outsiders hearing an ethnic group's stories, it provides an insight into the community's beliefs, views, and customs. For people within the community, it allows them to encompass their group's uniqueness. They show the human desires and fears of a group, such as love, marriage, and death.

Folktales are also seen as a tool for education and entertainment. They provide a way for children to understand the material and social environment. Every story has a moral to teach people, such as goodwill prevailing over evil. For entertainment, stories are set in fantastic, non-human worlds. Often, the main character of the story would be a talking animal, or something unnatural would happen to a human character. Even though folktales are for entertainment, they bring a sense of belonging and pride to communities in Africa.

There are different types of African stories: animal tales and day-to-day tales. Animal tales are more oriented towards entertainment but still have morals and lessons to them. Animal tales are normally divided into trickster tales and ogre tales. In animal tales, a certain animal would always have the same character or role, so the audience does not have to worry about characterisation. The Hare was always the trickster, while the Hyena was always tricked by the Hare. Ogres are always cruel, greedy monsters. The messengers in all the stories were the Birds. Day-to-Day tales are the most serious tales, never including humour, that explained the everyday life and struggles of an African community. These tales take on famine, escape from death, courtship, and family matters, using a song form when the climax of the story was being told.

African stories have certain common structural devices associated with them. Villagers would gather around a common meeting place at the end of the day to listen and tell their stories. Storytellers had certain commands to start and end the stories, "Ugai Itha" to get the audience's attention and begin the story, and "Rukirika" to signal the end of a tale. Each scene of a story is depicted with two characters at a time, so the audience does not get overwhelmed. In each story, victims can overcome their predators and take justice out on the culprit. Certain tools were used in African folktales. For example, idiophones, such as drums, were used to make the sounds of different animals. Repetition and call-back techniques in prose or poem were also used to get the audience involved in the stories.

One feature in this collection is a preponderance of tales from the region around the great central lakes. In particular, the culture of Uganda is made up of diverse ethnic groups. Lake Kyoga forms the northern boundary for the Bantu-speaking people, who dominate much of East, Central, and Southern Africa. In Uganda, they include the Baganda, mentioned in several of these tales. The Baganda are the largest single ethnic group in Uganda. They occupy the central part of Uganda which was formerly the Buganda Province. They are a Bantu-speaking people and their language is called Luganda.

In the north, the Lango and the Acholi peoples predominate, who speak Nilotic languages. To the east are the Iteso and Karamojong, who also speak a Nilotic language, whereas the Gishu are part of the Bantu and live mainly on the slopes of Mt. Elgon. They speak Lumasaba, which is closely related to the Luhya of Kenya.


The Lion And the Wild Dog

The Lion said to the Wild Dog that he did not fear anyone in the forest except these four, viz., tree-leaves, grass, flies, and earth, and when the Wild Dog said, "There is certainly one stronger than you," the Lion replied to the Wild Dog, "I kill the young ones of the elephant, the wild cow, and the leopard, and bring them to my children to be eaten. If I give one roar, all the beasts of the forest tremble, every one of them, on hearing me roar. None is greater than I within this forest."
The Wild Dog said to the Lion, "As you say that you fear not any one in this forest, so let us go and show me your house, and I will come and call you, in order to show you a place where a black bird comes to eat, as soon as I shall see him again."
The Lion took the Wild Dog with him and showed him his house, and then the Wild Dog went home.
The next day, when a hunter was come to the forest the Wild Dog, on seeing him, went to the Lion's house, and said to the Lion, "Brother Lion, come, and follow me, and I will show you something which I have seen."
The Lion arose and followed the Wild Dog, and when they were close to where the hunter was, the hunter saw them and prepared himself. He had put on his forest garment, had sewn the bill of a long bird to his cap, and put it on his head, and he walked as a bird. The Wild Dog, seeing him, said to the Lion, "Brother Lion, yonder is that black bird. Go and catch him, and when you have caught him, please give me one of his legs, for I want it for a charm."
The Lion attended to what the Wild Dog said, and went softly to where the bird was, but the Wild Dog ran back.
The Lion went, thinking, "I will kill the bird," but he did not know that on seeing him the hunter had prepared himself, and taken out his arrow. So, as he thought, "I will go and seize the bird," and was close to the hunter, the hunter shot an arrow at the Lion and hit him. Then the Lion fell back, and having got up and fallen down three times, the arrow took effect and he felt giddy. In the same moment the hunter had made himself invisible using magic tricks, so that Lion saw him no more. Then the Lion recovered his courage and went very gently home.
On his arrival at home the Wild Dog said to him, "Brother Lion, as you said to me that you are not afraid of any one in the world except our Lord, tree-leaves, grass, flies, and dirt, why did you not catch that black bird which I showed you, and bring it to your children?"
The Lion replied, "This man's strength is greater than mine."
Then the Wild Dog said again, "You said that you fear no one, except grass, flies, earth and tree-leaves. You fear, lest when you enter the forest, that the leaves of trees should touch you, or lest grass should touch your body, or lest flies should sit on your skin. You also fear to lie upon the bare earth, and you fear our Lord, who created you, all these you fear, 'but not any other I fear within this forest,' you said, and yet I showed you a bird, which you could not kill, but you left it, and ran home. Now tell me how this bird looks?"
The Lion answered and said to the Wild Dog, “Wild Dog, what you said is true, and I believe it. A man is something to be feared. If we do not fear a man neither shall we fear our Lord who created us."
Now all the wild beasts which God has created hunt for their food in the forest, and eat it, but as soon as they see one man standing, they do not stop and wait, but run away. Now the following beasts are dangerous in the forest, viz., the leopard, the lion, the wild cow, the wild dog and the hyena, but when they see a man, they do not stop and wait. As for the dispute which the Lion and the Wild Dog had, the Wild Dog was right, and the Lion gave him his right. Then they shook hands again, and each went and ran to his own home. This fable, which I heard, respecting the Wild Dog and the Lion, is now finished.

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