Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Note to the Paperback Edition

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-viii

If the reader bears in mind the vast complex of cultures that makes up native Africa, he will understand why the folktales of many tribes have been omitted or given minimum representation. The number of examples from the Ashanti may seem disproportionate...

Contents

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pp. ix-xvi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-20

About few peoples are there more misconceptions in the minds of Western Europeans than there are about the aboriginal inhabitants of Africa. The reasons are, perhaps, easy to explain. African cultures belong to those which laymen, particularly in the...

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Prologue

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pp. 21-22

Mouse everywhere. Through rich men's houses she creeps, and she visits even the poorest. At night, with her bright little eyes, she watches the doing of secret...

I. The Universe and Its Beginnings

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1. How Spider Obtained the Sky-God's Stories

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pp. 25-27

Kwaku Ananse, the spider, once went to Nyankonpon, the sky-god, in order to buy the sky-god's stories. The sky-god said, "What makes you think you can buy them?" The spider answered and said, "I know I shall be able." Thereupon the

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2. The Separation of God from Man

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pp. 28-32

In the beginning of days Wulbari and man lived close together and Wulbari lay on top of Mother Earth, Asase Ya. Thus it happened that, as there was so little space to move about in, man annoyed the divinity, who in disgust went away and rose up...

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3. The Creator Nyame and His Four Wives

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pp. 33-35

Nyame was married to Akoko, the barn-door fowl, but after a while he took to himself four other wives. Akoko, of course, retained her rights as the head wife, and the...

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4. How Abosom, the Lesser Gods, Came into the World

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pp. 36-40

There once was a certain woman who bore eleven children. Every day when she got up and cooked food the children ate it all and the mother did not get any of it. She pondered long about the matter, and went off to the plantation and...

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5. Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky

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pp. 41-41

Many years ago the sun and the water were great friends, and both lived on the earth together. The sun very often used to visit the water, but the water never returned his visits. At last the sun asked the water why it was that he never came...

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6. The Sun and the Children

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pp. 42-44

Once some children, at their mother's behest, very gently approached the sun's armpit, as the sun lay sleeping. They were to lift up the sun's armpit. At the same time, another woman ordered her children to do the same thing. She told them that///

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7. The Brothers, Sun and Moon, and the Pretty Girl

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pp. 45-48

How did it happen? A wife was pregnant, she bore a child, Moon, to begin with. She returned, became pregnant again, and this time bore Sun. Far in the wilderness was a man, and he had a pretty daughter. Sun and Moon grew up and

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8. The Son of the Wind

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pp. 49-50

The son of the wind was once a man. When he was a man he used to go shooting and to roll a ball but later he became a bird and flew, no longer walking as he used to do when he was a man. When he had changed into a bird, he flew up and dwelt in...

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9. How the Stars Came

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pp. 51-55

Ebopp, the lemur, and Mbaw, the dormouse, were making a tour in the bush. They looked for a good place to make a farm. When they found one, they cut down the trees and took two days to clear enough ground. After this, they went back...

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10. How the First Rain Came

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pp. 56-59

Once, long ago, a daughter was born to Obassi Osaw, and a son to Obassi Nsi. When both of them had come to marriageable age, Nsi sent a message and said, "Let us exchange children. I will send my son that he may wed one of your girls, and you send your daughter...

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11. The Origin of Death

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pp. 60-61

Long, long ago there was a great famine in the world, and a certain young man, while wandering in search of food, strayed into a part of the bush where he had never been before. Presently he perceived a strange mass lying on the ground. He approached and saw that it was the body...

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12. The Origin of Death

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pp. 62-62

And how did it happen? It is God who created men. And since God had pity, He said, "I do not wish men to die altogether. I wish that men, having died, should rise again." And so He created men and placed them in another region. But He stayed at home. And then God saw the chameleon and the...

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13. The Origin of Death

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pp. 63-63

The moon, it is said, once sent an insect to men, saying, "Go to men and tell them, 'As I die, and dying live; so you shall also die, and dying live.'" The insect started with the message, but, while on his way, was overtaken by the hare, who asked...

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14. How Diseases Came to the Ashanti

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pp. 64-66

Now there lived Kwaku Ananse, the spider, and he went to Nyankonpon, the sky-god, and said, "Grandsire, take your sheep called Kra Kwame, the one which you keep to sacrifice to your soul on a Saturday, and let me kill and eat it, that I may go and bring you a beautiful...

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15. How the Mason-Wasp Fetched Fire from God

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pp. 67-68

Vulture, Fish-Eagle, and Crow were without fire, for there was no fire on earth. So, needing fire, all the birds assembled and asked, "Whence shall we find fire?" Some of the birds said, "Perhaps from God." Thereupon Mason-Wasp volunteered, saying, "Who will go with me to God?" Vulture answered and...

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16. How Kintu Was Tested before He Could Marry the Daughter of the King of Heaven

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pp. 69-72

When Kintu came first to Uganda he found there was no food at all in the country. He brought with him one cow and had only the food with which the animal supplied him. In the course of time a woman named Nambi came with her brother to the earth...

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17. The Son of Kimanaueze and the Daughter of Sun and Moon

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pp. 73-78

I often tell of Kimanaueze, who begat a male child. The child grew up, and he came to the age of marrying. His father said, "Marry." He said, "I will not marry a woman of the earth." His father asked, "Then whom will you...

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18. The Blue-Jay Who Married the Daughter of God

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pp. 79-80

Long ago Blue-Jay had a wife but after a time he went to God; he went to seek the Daughter of God also as his wife. God replied, "Since you ask for her, you must not take her to the earth, you must stay just here in the sky. Because, if you...

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19. Mantis Creates an Eland

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pp. 81-84

Mantis once did as follows: Kwammang-a had taken off a part of his shoe and thrown it away, and Mantis picked it up and went and soaked it in the water, at a place where some reeds grew. Mantis went away, then he came back again, went...

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20. Why the Chief of the Smiths Was Unableto Create Human Beings

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pp. 85-86

A very long time ago there was a king who called Walukaga, chief of the smiths, and gave him a great quantity of iron and said, "I want you to make a real man for me, one who can walk and talk, and who has blood in his body, and who has brains." Walukaga took the iron and went...

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21. How Spider Read the Sky-God's Thoughts

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pp. 87-90

The sky-god begat three children, who were Esum (Darkness), Osrane (Moon), and Owia (Sun). When his three children grew up, the sky-god made them go to separate villages. The first one built his village, the second one also built his village...

II. The Animal and His World

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22. Mantis and the All-Devourer

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pp. 93-99

Mantis was speaking: "Now I want you, Ichneumon, to catch some fat sheep for my father to cut up for us and hang up to dry near the house. I do not feel like cutting any up, as I am still writhing with pain. The swelling must first disappear, then I, too, can cut

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23. The Fox and the Wolf

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pp. 100-103

Once upon a time there was a wolf and a fox. The wolf was the master and the fox the servant. One day both were grazing their flock in the pasture and, as they were thus grazing, the wolf and the fox wandered off into the plains to dig up some wild onions. The sheep scattered....

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24. The Elephant and the Tortoise

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pp. 104-105

Two beings, Elephant and Rain, had a dispute. Elephant said, "If you say that you nourish me, in what way is it that you do so?" Rain answered, "If you say that I do not nourish you, when I go away, will you not die?" And Rain then departed...

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25. The Frog and Umdhlubu

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pp. 106-112

Once on a time, a king married the daughter of another king; he loved her very much. His other wives were troubled on account of his love for her. She became pregnant, and gave birth to a girl: the father loved her exceedingly. The child grew...

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26. The Caterpillar and the Wild Animals

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pp. 113-114

Once upon a time a caterpillar entered the house of a hare when the owner was absent. On his return the hare noticed the marks on the ground, and cried out, "Who is in my house?" The caterpillar replied in a loud voice, "I am the warrior son of the Ion^ one whose anklets have become...

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27. The Gazelle and the Leopard

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pp. 115-116

The Gazelle said to the leopard, "It is now the dry season, and we should be cutting down the bush, so our women may plant as soon as the first rains come." "Well," said the leopard, "I cannot go today, but you may as well go." The gazelle went; and all that...

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28. The Leopard, the Squirrel, and the Tortoise

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pp. 117-119

Many years ago there was a great famine throughout the land and all the people were starving. The yam crop had failed entirely, the plantains did not bear any fruit, and the corn never came to a head; even the palm-oil nuts did not ripen, and...

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29. The Hare, the Hyena, and the Lioness's Cave

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pp. 120-122

The hare once met the hyena and proposed that they should go for a walk. They went for a walk together and then separated, after which the hare went to the lioness's cave and found it closed. She cried out, "Stone, open," and the stone rolled away from the mouth...

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30. Nwashisisana, the Hare

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pp. 123-128

Hare, that wily trickster, went to live with Grey Antelope. One day he said to her, "Suppose we go and till our fields and plant some beans!" So off they went and set to work. Antelope stole Hare's beans, and Hare stole Antelope's beans, but Hare did most of the

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31. Master Rabbit and the Berries

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pp. 129-132

This is what Master Rabbit did: The beasts were dying of thirst. They dug a well, but Master Rabbit refused to dig, saying, "I have enough juicy food." He went and met the crane. They resolved to gather certain berries called...

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32. How It Came About That We Shall Always See Okra the Cat Lying on a Velvet Cushion, While Okraman the Dog Sleeps Among the Ashes of the Kitchen Fire

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pp. 133-138

They say that there once was a certain woman who was so unfortunate that whenever she gave birth to a child it died. So she set out to consult one of the lesser-gods about it and to tell him that she desired a child. The lesser-god said, "I shall give you one, but as for...

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33. How It Came About That the Hinder Part of Kwaku Ananse the Spider Became Big, at the Expense of His Head,

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pp. 139-140

They say that once a great hunger came, and that Kwaku Ananse, the spider, said he would go and search for meat and vegetable food and bring it that he and his wife Aso might eat. He went into a certain stream and there he met certain...

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34. Why There Are Cracks in Tortoise's Shell

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pp. 141-142

Mr. Tortoise, who was married to Mrs. Tortoise, had in Vulture a friend who was constant in visiting him. But, having no wings, Tortoise was unable to return the visits, and this upset him. One day he bethought himself of his cunning...

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35. Why Some Animals Became Domesticated

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pp. 143-143

In the olden days all cattle, sheep, and goats lived in the forests. Then, one day, Tororut called all the animals before him at a place in the jungle, and he lighted a large fire there. And when the animals saw the fire...

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36. How Honey-Guide Came to HaveAuthority over Honey

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pp. 144-145

Honey-guide and Capped Wheatear lived together in one place at first and ate out of one dish. Honey-Guide was the elder, Wheatear the younger. They set their minds on going to hunt for honey, and it happened when they arrived in the vicinity...

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37. The Bird That Made Milk

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pp. 146-149

It is said that there was once a great town in a certain place which had many people living in it. They lived only upon grain. One year there was a great famine. Now in that town there was a poor...

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38. The Man and the Snake

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pp. 150-152

A man once found some snakes fighting. As he came near and looked at them he saw that one snake had been killed. He reproved them. He said, "Go away." One snake gave him a charm, saying, "By means of this charm you will hear all things. When the rat talks, you will...

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39. How Elephant Married a Nama Womanand Was Deceived by Her

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pp. 153-154

It is said that Elephant fell madly in love with a Nama woman and married her. Her two brothers came to visit her secretly but, for fear of him, she told Elephant she wanted to fetch some wood and then went and hid the two in the...

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40. How Kwaku Ananse Got Aso in Marriage

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pp. 155-158

There once lived a certain man called Akwasi-the-Jealous-One, and his wife was Aso. He did not want anyone to see Aso or anyone to talk to her, so he went and built a small settlement for Aso to live in. No one ever went into that village. Now he, Akwasi-the-Jealous-One, could not beget...

III. The Realm of Man

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41. The Young Man Who Was Carried Off by a Lion

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pp. 161-164

A young man of the early race once ascended a hill in order to hunt. As he looked around for game, however, he became sleepy—so sleepy, in fact, that he decided to lie down. What had happened to him? he wondered, as he stretched himself...

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42. How a Hunter Obtained Money from His Friends the Leopard, the Goat, the Bush Cat, and the Cock, and How He Got Out of Repaying Them

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pp. 165-167

Many years ago there was a Calabar hunter named Effiong who lived in the bush. He killed plenty of animals and made much money. Every one in the country knew him, and one of his best friends was a man called Okun, who lived near...

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43. The Little Wise Woman

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pp. 168-170

A girl, it is said, once went to seek for onions. As she arrived at the place where they grew, she met several men, one of whom was half-blind, having only one eye. As she dug, the men helped...

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44. Zimwa-mbanje the Hemp Smoker

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pp. 171-173

There once lived a man named Zimwa-mbanje, the hemp smoker. One year there was a severe drought, and the hemp did not grow. He said to his children, "What am I to do? I have no hemp." They answered, "If you wish it, send us that we may search for...

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45. Konyek and His Father

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pp. 174-176

A big dance was once held at which many warriors and girls were present. Toward evening the dancers dispersed, and each warrior selected one or more of the girls to accompany him home. One of these men, a particularly handsome and well-built...

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46. The Lost Sister

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pp. 177-178

Once upon a time there were a brother and sister who lived together. The mother had died leaving many goats, and the brother looked after the goats in the daytime, but in the evening he went away from home, for he was very handsome, and...

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47. The Woman and the Children of theSycamore Tree

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pp. 179-180

There was once a woman who had no husband, and she lived for many days in trouble. One day she said to herself, "Why do I always feel so troubled? It is because I have neither children nor husband. I shall go to the medicine-man and get some...

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48. The Girl Who Stayed in the Fork of a Tree

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pp. 181-185

This is what a woman did. She was then living in the bush, never showing herself to anyone. She had living with her just one daughter, who used to pass the day in the fork of a tree making baskets. One day there appeared a man just when the mother had gone to kill

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49. How an Unborn Child Avenged Its Mother's Death

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pp. 186-189

A man had taken a wife, and now she had the joy of being with child, but famine was acute in the land. One day, when hunger was particularly severe, the man, accompanied by his wife, was dragging himself along in the direction of her mother's home in the hope of getting a little food...

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50. The Woman Who Killed Her Co-Wife

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pp. 190-192

Once a man made a double marriage, one with a superior and one with an inferior wife. The inferior one then prepared a drug and caused the death of her mate, the owner of the place. When she was dead, the people...

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51. The Slave Girl Who Tried to Kill Her Mistress

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pp. 193-196

A man called Akpan, who was a native of Oku, a town in the Ibibio country, admired a girl called Emme very much. She lived in Ibibio and he wished to marry her, as she was the finest girl in her kraal. It was the custom in those days...

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52. The Smart Man and the Fool

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pp. 197-198

Let us tell another story; let us be off!" "Pull away!" "Let us be off!" "Pull away!" There were two brothers, the Smart Man and the Fool, and it was their habit to go out shooting to keep their parents supplied with food. Thus, one day, they went together into...

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53. The Greed of the Old Man and His Wife

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pp. 199-200

There was once upon a time an old man who lived in a kraal with his neighbours. And this old man had a wife and a small child, and he possessed a very fine ox. One day he said to himself, "How shall I slaughter my ox?" And he said...

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54. How Contradiction Came to the Ashanti

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pp. 201-203

There was once a certain man called Hate-to-Be-Contradicted, and because of that, he built a small settlement all by himself and went to live in it. And the creature called the duiker went to visit him, and he walked with him and sat down at the foot...

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55. How It Came About That One Person Does NotReveal the Origin from Which AnotherPerson Comes

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pp. 204-206

There was once a hunter. After he got up in the morning he used to go to the bush to seek for game to kill so that he might get some to eat and some to sell. Now one day he went to the bush and he heard Kokotee, the bush pig, call out to its kinsman, "Kokotee Asamoa!" He replied, "Yes, brother, yes." Kokotee again called...

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56. Why a Girl Should Marry Him to WhomShe is Given in Marriage

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pp. 207-208

There was once a virgin named Kwaboaso. To whomsoever they gave her to marry she said, "I do not desire him." They gave her to a hunter, and she said, "Ugh! This man has ticks on him; I do not want him." One day she went off to the plantation, saying...

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57. How It Came About That Children Were First Whipped

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pp. 209-211

They say that once upon a time a great famine came, and that Father Ananse, the spider, and his wife Aso, and his children, Ntikuma, Nyiwankonfwea (Thin-Shanks), Afudotwedotwe (Belly-Like-to-Burst), and Tikonokono (Big-Big-Head), built a little settlement and...

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58. Why It Is That the Elders Say We Should Not Repeat Sleeping-Mat Confidences

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pp. 212-214

They say that once upon a time Nyanlconpon Kwame, the sky-god, cleared a very large plantation and planted okras, onions, beans, gardeneggs, peppers, and pumpkins. The weeds in the garden became thick and nettles grew up. The sky-god then made a proclamation by...

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59. Why You Should Let Your Kinsman Accompany You When He Asks to Go Along

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pp. 215-217

There was once a certain woman, and she bore three children. The youngest among them was suffering from yaws. The eldest of the brothers asked their mother to let them have gold dust that they might go trading. The youngest of them said he would...

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60. If Someone Does Good to You, You Should Do Good in Return

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pp. 218-220

It is said that once there was a female eagle and that in her wanderings she came upon a certain old woman who had a sore on her leg. And the eagle said, "Gracious me! That is an unusual kind of sore. With a sore like that, however hard you try, are you able to walk?" The old woman said, "Oh, just a very...

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61. Untombinde, the Tall Maiden

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pp. 221-226

The daughter of the king Usikulumi said, "Father, I am going to the Ilulange next year." Her father said, "Nothing goes to that place and comes back again: it goes there for ever." She came again the next year and said, "Father, I am going to the Ilulange. Mother, I am going to the...

IV. Man and His Fate

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62. The Wonder-Worker of the Plains

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pp. 229-234

Once there was a man and a woman to whom were born first a boy and then a girl. When the bride-price had been paid for the girl and she was married, the parents said to the...

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63. The Enchanted Guinea-Fowl

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pp. 235-236

A certain man once upon a time set his bird line and sent his daughter, saying, "Go and look at my line while I go to dig." So his daughter went to see the line. She found a guinea-fowl caught in it, and the guinea-fowl...

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64. The Adventures of Mrile

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pp. 237-242

In the course of time, a man had three sons. Once, the oldest one went with his mother to dig up eddo tubers. As they were thus occupied, he saw a seed-bulb. And he said, "Why, there is a seed-bulb as handsome as my little brother." But his mother...

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65. The Handsome Ogre-Girl of the Pool

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pp. 243-246

Some men once went out hunting. When they had walked some distance, they met a girl who was decked with chains that dangled to and fro. One of the men saluted her, and she returned the salutation. He said to...

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66. The Town Where None Might Go to Sleep

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pp. 247-249

A certain woman had two daughters. One was married to a man who lived in a town where no one was allowed to go to sleep, the other to one in a town where no one might spit.* One day the woman cooked a dish of sweetmeats to take...

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67. The City Where Men Are Mended

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pp. 250-253

All the girls of the town had assembled and had gone to the forest to pick herbs. While they were doing this, it began to rain; from the east it came, and they ran and got inside the hollow of a baobab tree, and the devil closed it up. When the rain had ceased, the devil said that each must...

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68. M'wambia and the N'jenge

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pp. 254-257

Once upon a time there was a man who married a woman, and she bore him a male child. Then he married a second wife, and she also bore him a male child. After a while the first wife died. Now the name of the eldest son was Mwambia...

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69. The Child and the Eagle

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pp. 258-259

A woman had a child.One day she went to work in the fields. While she was going to her work the child cried. When it stopped crying she suckled it, and after she had finished...

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70. The Fat Woman Who Melted Away

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pp. 260-261

There was once a very fat woman who was made of oil. She was very beautiful and many young men applied to her parents for permission to marry her and offered a dowry; but the mother always refused. She said it was impossible for her daughter...

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71. The Cherry-Pickers

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pp. 262-265

Once upon a time some girls went to pick cherries, and one of them said to one of her comrades, "Let us pick cherries with our eyes shut." Now the rest of her comrades picked without shutting their eyes, and they picked red cherries, but she picked hers...

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72. Ngomba's Basket

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pp. 266-268

Four little girls one day started to go out fishing. One of them was suffering sadly from sores which covered her from head to foot. Her name was Ngomba. The other three, after a little consultation, agreed that Ngomba should not accompany them...

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73. The Beautiful Girl Who Had No Teeth

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pp. 269-271

There was once a man who had three sons, none of whom had a wife. One day the father went out to see if he could find a suitable girl for his eldest son, and he found a beautiful girl at a village nearby. That night, when he returned home, he called...

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74. The Girl Who Was Sacrificed by Her Kin and Whom Her Lover Brought Back from Below

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pp. 272-273

The sun was very hot and there was no rain, so the crops died and hunger was great. This happened one year; and it happened again a second, and even a third year, that the rain failed. The people all gathered together on the great open space on the hilltop...

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75. The Wicked Girl and Her Punishment

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pp. 274-278

There was once a certain girl who loved a youth, but her parents said that they would not give her to him in marriage. He was always coming and begging them to let him marry her, but they would say, "We shall not give her to...

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76. The Old Woman Who Stole Milk

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pp. 279-284

There was in times of long ago a certain old woman; she was living with her daughter; she was the mother-in law. Her son-in-law offered her amasi, telling her to eat; for there was not much food, it was a famine. She refused the amasi. He offered her a cow, telling her to eat...

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77. The Wife Who Ate the Wrong Porridge

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pp. 285-288

What do you think? This is what they did. They went looking for wives, saying, "Let us go and try to marry." One of them went looking for a wife everywhere. Every one rejected him. At last he, too, like the others, succeeded...

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78. The Twin Brothers

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pp. 289-291

Once a woman, after prolonged labour, gave birth to twins, both sons. And each one, as he was brought forth, came into this world with a valuable fetish. One the mother called Luemba, the other Mavungu, And they were almost full-grown at their...

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79. Kenkebe

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pp. 292-295

There was once a great famine in a certain country, and the people were obliged to eat wild plants to keep themselves alive. Their principal food during this time was nongwes which they dug out of the ground. There was living at that place a man called...

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80. The Giant of the Great Water

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pp. 296-297

There was once a small boy who was herding the goats, and his father came and pointed out to him some long and luxurious grass and told him to take the goats there to feed. So he pastured them there that day and took them there again the day...

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81. A Woman for a Hundred Cattle

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pp. 298-304

Once upon a time there were a man and a woman. They lived for many days in the land of Pata, and a son was born to them. Their fortune consisted of a hundred cattle. Beyond these they did not have a single calf; they had nothing but the...

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Epilogue

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pp. 305-308

She was an old woman of a family with a long genealogy. Leza Shikakunamo - "The Besetting One" - had stretched out his hand against her family. He slew her mother and her father while she was yet a child; and in the course of the years all...

Sources of the Folktales

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pp. 309-312

Glossary

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pp. 313-320

Index

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pp. 321-322