Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Trickster in Epics: Sundiata

I haven't posted in a while. Apologies to my readers for the recess. I have been reading old epics, which are a branch of mythology and folklore, with their own tricksters in both human and animal forms. Consider The Epic of Sundiata, for instance, the exchange of words between Sundiata and Soumaoro before the two can fight each other. It seems to me that a great hero in the epics is in fact one who embodies trickster qualities: magical powers, wit and endless tricks up his sleeve. Alliances are also crucial. Sundiata is able to defeat Soumaoro because his sister, Nana Triban, at one time Soumaoro's favorite wife, managed to tease out of him the secret of his magic power. It is this knowledge that will equip Sundiata with the right weapon to beat Soumaoro. Here is a link to my other blog with an excerpt that befits the trickster tradition.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ashanti Trickster: Anansi Tries To Steal All The Wisdom In The World

A long time ago, Anansi the spider, had all the wisdom in the world stored in a huge pot. Nyame, the sky god, had given it to him. Anansi had been instructed to share it with everyone. Every day, Anansi looked in the pot, and learned different things. The pot was full of wonderful ideas and skills. Anansi greedily thought, "I will not share the treasure of knowledge with everyone. I will keep all the wisdom for myself." So, Anansi decided to hide the wisdom on top of a tall tree. He took some vines and made some strong string and tied it firmly around the pot, leaving one end free. He then tied the loose end around his waist so that the pot hung in front of him. He then started to climb the tree. He struggled as he climbed because the pot of wisdom kept getting in his way, bumping against his tummy.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Chinua Achebe injects a Trickster in "Things Fall Apart"

Jabuti the tortoise
I was recalling writers who have used trickster stories within their stories, when it occurred to me that Chinua Achebe's most famous novel, Things Fall Apart, contains the very tortoise who cracked his shell, only the story is told differently compared to the wedding one I posted a few weeks ago. An Igbo variation perhaps, which is why the variety of trickster stories across languages and cultures interest me greatly, and how they continue to feature in modern storytelling/writing or as independent oral narratives.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Instead of Mr. Hare, Mr. Tortoise is the Trickster

In the previous story, instead of Mr. Hare renaming himself "Everyone" in order to get all the food, it's Mr. Tortoise who does, and his misadventure is the reason he has a hard shell today.

African Spurred Tortoise
So the story goes that Mr. Tortoise, along with the animals of the jungle were invited to the sky to attend the wedding of Mr. Hippo's daughter who was marrying the son of the sky god. On their way to the sky (dispatched on a rainbow) Mr. Tortoise told all the animals that it would be a good thing to rename themselves with cool, funky names and impress the sky dwellers. For himself he picked, "All of you" but the other animals only laughed, seeing no cool point.

Mr. Hare becomes "Everyone"

Normally the title of this story would be something like: How Mr. Hare Became "Everyone," or "How Mr. Hare renamed himself to get all the food" but for this blog I've revised it a little bit. In other versions, "Everyone" is replaced with "All of you."

hare & moon
Once upon a time, Mr. Hare and the animals of the forest were invited to a wedding in the sky. The daughter of Mr. Hippo had fallen in love with the son of the sky god, and the ceremony was to take place in the heavens. All the earth creatures were invited to the wedding. A rainbow was organized to fetch them from earth up to the sky and also return them safely to their homes once the celebrations were over. While the animals were heading to the wedding, Mr. Hare devised a plan.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Omugane gwokubanza: Ishe Katabazi 1

Midi pic
I've been debating if I should share these stories in my mother tongue--Rukiga--or English. I might end up doing both. I would like to maintain the Rukiga structure and if I translate them into English, I may play with form, aiming for brevity, cutting out repetitions, and perhaps even writing in a more epic poetry manner than oral story. I might also put a modern spin on both and see how that goes. Be my own trickster on what was and now is or could be. This being a project in the making. Anyway, decisions aside, here's the first story involving a character named Ishe-Katabaazi.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Stylistic Practices of Trickster storytelling

The trickster figure Reynard the Fox from the wiki

Before I share a number of trickster stories allow me first to delve into their development and some of the qualities that stand out as stylistic conventions in my traditions.

Beginning of Digital Humanities Project

Coyote from the wiki

I didn't fully realize what I was up to when I started taking a tutorial on Digital Humanities and had to come up with a project. After some thinking it occurred to me that it would be a good idea if i start blogging about the stories my family and community members told me when i was growing up.

My favorite stories are in the trickster tradition. We didn't have the coyote or Ananse, but we had the hare, sometimes called Kalulu, sometimes just Mr. Hare.In the stories he is celebrated for outwitting everyone. Sometimes he falls short but is quick to get himself out of the trap. Always a he. Crafty, cunning, cheating. Perhaps that says something about my community; what males were more likely to do compared to females since there is a belief that animals symbolize humans. This site for a start aims to share trickster stories across cultures and languages.