Tales of Aetiology - a review of Pamela Kola's 'East African When Stories'
One day, in a time of reasoning, a vulture, an eagle and a crow, took the initiative, formed a diplomatic triumvirate, and went to see the Hare. Hare? When did he get elevated? Whether he's Sungara of the Swahili, Kalulu of the Bembe or whichever culture has the hare as trickster, he's usually described with words such as cunning, shrewd, clever, manipulative, less so as wise! He's the consummate hustler. But in this tale - I don't know from which people in
The preceding gives an insight into the first story – When Birds Began To Live In Trees – of a small collection of five, entitled East African When Stories. Tales of aetiology: original beginnings. The Caribs also have a 'when' story, around a flood and the animals, featuring Irraweka the monkey
When Death Began tells us of that infamous decree - when we first began to pass way - which is found throughout sub-Saharan
Then we have a tale of intended infanticide. About a well of salvation; the good spirits, who remind me of the Nunu, referring again to the Zulu; and as in many stories around the world, a prince who saves and marries her, in the story When People Stopped Killing Twin Girls.
As a lover of citrus, I was glad to read the next one, where the writer, Pamela Kola, had chosen a member of this family, the orange, to represent, in the tale, When People Began Growing Fruits. One of those tales that tell of honesty and the reward it brings. Wish the chosen member of the family had been lemon!
The first one began with a flood; the last, interspersed with song, tells of a famine. Its one of those stories about a domino effect and the results of the chain reaction: When The Guinea Fowl Stopped Living With People.
Because I've enjoyed this quintet, I look forward to reading other stories written by the author, published by the East African Educational Publishers, based in
For more on this book, see the African Books Collective