The Politics Of Animal Stories – Chinua Achebe

In the work ‘What Has Literature Got To Do With It’ Achebe brings up a very pertinent question relating literature to creation. He asks whether ‘people create stories’ or ‘stories create people’ or rather ‘stories create people create stories’. To the question whether stories would come first or people would come first is connected the myth of the creation, to which is connected the remarkable Fulani’s story.’ It is a creation story about whether man came into being first or the story came first. The story goes that in the beginning there was a ‘huge drop of milk. Then the milk created stone, the stone created fire; the fire created water; the water created air’. Then man was moulded by Doondari out of five elements. But man had pride. Then Doondari created blindness and blindness defeated man. The story is about creation, defeat of man through hubris and redemption of man. These stories are not just restricted to creation, but have been imbibed in the history of man, social organizations, political systems, moral attitudes, religious beliefs and even prejudices.

The Igbo political system, prevails on the absence of kings. The word ‘king’ is represented more by different words. In the Igobo town of Ogidi kingship gradually went out of use, because the king had to settle a lot of debts, owned by every man and woman in the kingdom. In fact one who became a king held the people in utter contempt when he organized a ritual called ‘Kola-nut’ where he cracked the nut between his teeth and made the people eat the cola-nut coated with the king’s saliva. He was dethroned and the people became a republican. It was decided the the king should guarantee the solvency of the people. These mythical stories of kingship dwindled with the emergence of the British community when kingship merged with the British political legacy and gained new connotations.

Achebe mentions two animal stories the emergence of the British community when kingship merged with the British political legacy and gained new connotations.

Achebe mentions two animal stories which are short but complex enough to warrant them as literature. Once there was a meeting of animals, at a public square, when a fowl was spotted by his neighbours going in the opposite direction. The fowl explains that he had not gone to the meeting because of some personal matter. The fowl generously said that even though not present in body he would be present in spirit. It was decided at the meeting that a particular animal, namely the fowl would henceforth be regularly sacrificed for the Gods. And so the fowl had given its assent to be a sacrificial victim forever.

The second animal story was about a snake riding a horse. The snake could not ride very skillfully. A toad came by to show the snake horsemanship. The toad rode very skillfully, and came back and returned the horse to the snake. The snake smilingly said that it was better having than not having. He had the horse in possession. So he rode away with the horse in the same way as before.

These two stories have curious implications. The fowl story is a tale of warning to democratic citizens who do not take active participation in the democratic process. The second story has significations of class divisions. The snake is an aristocrat in a class society while a toad is a commoner with expertise whose personal effort does not matter because he does not have the necessary possessions. The snake possesses merit by birth or wealth and hence enjoys privileges whether he possesses skill or not.

The connection of these stories with literature is implicit. Literature offers scope for social transition and change. Literature can cause change in society. The king enforcing his subjects to eat the saliva covered nut is obviously an invitation to rebellion. The snake story is also a story of class division and privilege, but his seeds of revolution in it. The skilled have not may be incited to rise to rebellion by observing the undue privilege of the unskilled rich. The implication is the dissolution of an incompetent oligarchy. In fact the snake figure has been chosen because of its unattractiveness for ultimately it would become the target of revolution.

Literature is connected with social, economic and educational growth. Literature is related with the creation of human societies. Because Nigeria wants to grow as an independent nation, it needs the creative energy of national stories to support and sustain the growth of the nation.

In fact even if we look back to classical literature, it is seen that the portrayal of Achilles or Ulysses is indirectly connected to the growth of Greece as a nation. So also is the portraiture of Beowulf connected to the social, historical and national development of the Anglo Saxon society. There is a relationship between the Anglo Saxons sitting around the fire on the hearth rebelling against the cold and charting their own growth and psychoanalysis storytelling. Both have a psychological implication in them. When one tells a story to the psychoanalyst he actually tells a story. The connection between literature and psychoanalysis as Achebe puts it as ‘Literature can have an important and profound positive effect as well, functioning as a kind of bountiful, nourishing matrix for a healthy, developing psyche.’ Literature thus helps to counter psyche in real life helping in a discovery of the self that tables to cope with life. Literature through the symbol of the animal story connects itself with political uprisings, sociological and historical growths as well as psychoanalytic analysis of the self which helps in confronting reality and finding one’s own self.

Once Upon a Time in Africa – Stories of Wisdom and Joy (2004) By Joseph G Healey – A Review

This is a unique and intriguing book that remarkably captures the essence of African society in response to and in cooperation with Christianity, other religions, and foreign society. But this is not an academic book laden with complex and boring theories. Rather, the book contains close to 100 short stories that convey experiences of east Africans with christian missionaries from the west. Each story is unique and can convey an African parable, an abridged African story, an encounter with a group of Africans, missionary work in African schools, African response to death and dying, the extent to which Africans compete with each other relative to other world societies, the importance of Africans sharing and running together, how Africans perceive Christianity and foreign behavior, etc. Many of the stories are humorous, but the value message does not become lost. A Maasai moran wonders how great Jesus was. Relating to the Maasai aspect of recognizing greatness and manhood, the moran questions whether Jesus ever killed a lion and how many wives he had.

In a running competition, a nun wonders why the schoolgirls keep crossing the finishing line together. They tell her that they do not want to leave anyone behind, they want to finish together. Many of these stories convey African society as highly cooperative, not heavily dwelling on a person outpointing and crushing the other and taking the spotlight. Africans traditionally do not want to be separated from each other, and will work hard to stay together even when threatened by differences in religious belief. They are far less materialistic than many other societies of the world, they can achieve joy and happiness in the face of poverty and misfortune; they are generally not imbued with that western spirit of materialism, monopoly, and selfishness.

Africans believe in re-incarnation, believing that the spirit of a good person always returns to earth through a newborn, dead ancestors are guardian angels. African societies are shown to have their accounts of creation. African proverbs are numerous and tell a lot about Africans. In the book, Africans are portrayed in their homes, the gardens, in church, in prayer, in hunting, at work, etc. This is indeed a book about African joy and wisdom concisely illustrated with short significant stories, tales, proverbs, encounters and happenings.

Father Joseph Healey, who is originally from the United States and has operated in east Africa for several decades, managed to compile a gem of a book that one never gets tired of reading. Healey’s extensive practical familiarlization with many African languages and ways of life made him the ideal candidate to compile this heart-warming and objective volume. More than any other text, the book illustrates joy and wisdom in the day-to-day basic lives of Africans and their response to a new world that gets smaller and smaller and becomes more connected. The contents also illustrate how people from other parts of the world practically respond to and perceive African life. The stories in this book are short, but their messages are very powerful. Lessons on Africa are conveyed through aspects of adventure, ministering, religion, folklore, prayer, stories, African culture, poetry, spirituality, and tales.

Types Of Stories For Kids

Stories are an inseparable part of our life. Everyone of us love to listen or read the tales. No matter what is our age, our fascination and craving for tales remains intact. Stories are categorized into bedtime stories, jungle stories, funny stories, moral stories, short stories, courage stories, fairy tales and more. Just choose the tales as per your age, reading time, moral or theme and satisfy your craving for stories.

These short tales are not only for entertainment and fun but also teach the little kids about several things and imparts knowledge. By reading the tales, kids can improve their vocabulary, speaking skills, reading skills, thinking capacity as well as build values. It is one of best and interesting ways to teach your little ones about good morals and values. Some of the stories are brimming with lessons, thus helping the kids to be a good human being.

Types of tales to read and enjoy:

Bedtime stories

There are plenty of bedtime stories to amuse the little kids. These tales are usually simple and fantastical in nature. As kids listen to bedtime stories, they are transported to a land of fantasy and imagination, where everything is mysterious and anything is possible.

Moral Stories

Moral stories includes moral messages, which young children remembers for rest of their lives. People of all ages enjoys reading these tales and also passes on to generations. When tales with moral lessons are introduced to children, they understand good values and right conduct. So groom your child into a better and skilled person by introducing short moral stories to them.

Funny Tales

Funny stories are hilarious tales, read for giggles and will have you laughing for days. Irrespective of age, these stories are read and enjoyed during the leisure hours. Reading funny stories not only enliven the child in us but also help in beating the stress and anxiety. For all these reasons, never hesitate to take up the opportunity to read funny stories.

Short Stories

A short story is an excellent piece of prose fiction, which can be read and enjoyed during the leisure hours. In the short stories, a small cast of named characters are featured. These tales emphasizes on self-contained incident to evoke a single effect or mood.

Fairy Tales

Fairy tales are the short and interesting tales, featuring folkloric fantasy characters, such as elves, fairies, dwarves, elves, giants, goblins, mermaids, unicorns or witches. These tales transports you to an unreal world that has no definite locality or creatures. This imaginary world is full of jaw-dropping surprises that will keep the kids entertained.