The Dancing Palm Tree and Other Nigerian Folktales

The Dancing Palm Tree and Other Nigerian Folktales

The Dancing Palm Tree and Other Nigerian Folktales

The Dancing Palm Tree and Other Nigerian Folktales

Synopsis

Imagine yourself for a moment in Western Nigeria on a moonlit evening. The day's work has been done, and friends and neighbors have gathered. Suddenly one among the group turns to an older man sitting at the edge of the piazza. "Tell us a story," he begs. And he knows what he is asking. Many in the group can tell stories and very well indeed, for storytelling has been a tradition in Nigeria for hundreds of years. The old man rises and usually begins, "Far away and long ago in a small village…" Somewhat in each story there is likely to be a moral, a human truth that is taught through what happens in the story, for an important purpose of storytelling in Nigeria has always been to teach as well as to entertain. But you will find that the truths taught in these stories prevail not only in Nigeria but all over the world, truths that people must learn to live by, no matter what country they call home. Earlier versions of these eleven tales were told to Barbara K. Walker by Olawale Idewu, a Nigerian student in a midwestern American college who was lonesome for his homeland and its culture and who was willing to share some of the tales from that culture. Now, young Americans can enjoy a sampling of the tales still told on moonlit evenings in Nigeria.

Excerpt

The Dancing Palm Tree and Other Nigerian Folktales offers to children everywhere a little taste of the literary heritage shared every day by their counterparts in Nigeria. Village or hamlet, town or city, any locality where people can gather finds an eager circle of listeners ready to hear the tales that have come down from family to family there in West Africa for hundreds of years. And the old tales are just as entertaining and as instructive and as appealing today as they were when they were first told.

All the tales in this collection were told by Olawale Idewu, a young Nigerian student in an American college, lonesome for home and happy to share the stories that are part of his heritage. Ola's homeland is Western Nigeria, populated largely by a people known as the Yorubas, a proud, ambitious, sociable people that have long been among the leaders in Nigeria. And the influence of the Yorubas and other peoples of West Africa has spread farther than one might suspect, for most Afro-Americans who now live in the United States and in Latin America can trace their origins to exactly that part of Africa. Here, then, can be found some of the tales which are a rightful part . . .

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