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Africa culture/tradition folklore Igbo culture

Tradition: Storytelling

The African Storytelling Tradition

When I, the storyteller say: Ifochakpii! You the audience will reply: Waa!! (Pronounced as ‘War!’) This is Igbo people’s storytelling tradition. There are different ways of introducing a story to the audience. To the Igbo people it’s starts with a chant-like ranting that tries to capture the attention of all present. So the storyteller greets his audience in that manner as they reply him in excitement. The storytelling mood is a lively one and such introit may play a role in keeping the mood so.

Storytelling is a unique culture in Africa. Storytellers are revered across the land. We may compare them to the present day actors because they actually act. I can compare storytelling to the modern day stage drama. Storytelling is respected because it passes ancient knowledge and wisdom from one generation to another. It’s a time when everybody, young and old gather to listen and learn about the tradition of a place and life’s virtues through stories told by their ancestors. Though much of these stories have been lost or modified with time, the morals, which is the crux remain intact. Sometimes they act as bedtime stories meant to aid or lull people to sleep. All over the world storytelling precedes reading.

Tortoise: Main Villain & Hero
Growing up in West Africa I came to learn that Tortoise is the dominant character in most stories. He is called Mbo or Mbe in Igbo. Some clans gave him, his wife and children other names. His wife is called Alibo in Ovim. I can’t remember his son’s name but it may not matter for now. The Tortoise play funny and shrewd roles. He is generally perceived as a cheat who goes about causing mischief for others. Sometimes he gets to win, other times he is a loser and a lesson for the little ones. The Tortoise has been featured in many stories, few I can remember myself. He has duped the Boar in one story, deceived the host of birds that lent him a feather each, cursed the spider that saved him from the ghost town and dealt with spirits. In fact he is a star in the African folklore scenario.

Yet why he was chosen for these wonderful roles is what I have not been able to understand. We have bigger, faster, smarter and funnier animals but the Tortoise was picked to play lead roles in most of West Africa’s traditional folklore. Naturally the Tortoise is a slow, lazy and seemingly dumb animal but in tales he is a kingmaker, a genius or the wise one. Looks are truly deceptive in African folklore.

Why should we preserve stories?

Apart from the Tortoise that fell from the birds’ firmament party, no one in reality and fiction had the privilege of falling from the skies. What I mean is that nothing just happens. Every story serves a purpose, be it fact or fiction. And no society is complete without a history, a story. So stories are careful documentations, written or oral. We have histories and traditions to discuss today because people had kept accounts and details of them. I’ll write more on this topic in a separate blog post.

For now, can you tell me which African story is your favourite?

Categories
Africa, Poetry and Love nature poems Poetry

Shadows – Poetry

When shadows are seen around
It shows gathering or dispersing,
Dancing or wrestling, singing or talking.
Shadows clone for good or evil
As a hefty hoe till the soft soil
Her shadow strikes things dead
Under the moon’s watchful eyes on this land,
Shadows of branches on the ground
Were green trees during the noon
Timid skies tower over all, they shine on fair nuns
But they become darkest of witches in the night
Fruits on trees seem round like metal pots,
Suspended from tree branches
Its shadows draw teen pregnancies
Yet life is magnified under the shadow;
A reality or farce, made of a shadow’s sorrow

Categories
Africa, Poetry and Love Inspiration/Motivation lifestyle opinion reflection

Happy Belated Friendship Day

– Friends are family we chose for ourselves.

Didn’t forget

I didn’t forget about the World Friends Day. I do write about friendship because it’s dear to me. I was extremely busy with personal and family errands. I also volunteer online for a company based in North America and so had little time to pen my stories, thoughts and poems. At the end of each day I’m left weak and tired. So I sleep earlier nowadays.

Friends are Family…

I’ve so many friends. Strangely, my friends are not limited to street, school, church pals or any human acquaintance made. I’ve adorable friends too: babies and little children, dogs, birds, ants, even plants and trees. To me friendship goes beyond the physical. It’s a mutual thing ordained with understanding, respect and loyalty. It falls in-between trust and love. True friends can give up anything even their life for one another. Take for instance the story of Antonio and Bassanio in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.

Everybody is capable of friendship

Someone, somewhere look up to you. It might be a person or a pet. It might be the old milkman walking by your window to see you smile and say good morning. It might be a pair of rose flowers dangling in a vase waiting for its daily dose of water and care. It could be anyone.

I ask that you check on your friends. Times are tough. A simple call or chat can bring back hope to the heartbroken or depressed. Hope is a strong force. Remain a loyal and trustworthy friend to someone. You might be the reason someone looks forward to another day.

Here is to wish you my friends and family what I should have these past few days: Happy belated Friendship Day. And I love you so much. Stay safe.

Categories
Love and Christianity Pastoral Poetry reflection rhyme Series tips

August Poem

august

August is a beautiful month and my month of birth. In seven days time I’ll be a year older. Have a beautiful month!