Saturday, April 27, 2013

Storytelling tradition from Kenya

I really like the lecture by Professor Ochieng in the way he presented the folktale and storytelling tradition from Kenya in diverse forms. He combined telling folktales, presenting information and performing song/dance in an appropriate way that the class could take part in various activities and learn about Kenyan folktales from different aspects and perspectives. 

He told many folktales which originated from peasant culture. The stories evolve around daily activities of people and also mention domesticated animals that are close to human. He told stories by using his voice and body language, which expressed the difference of oral tales from those told by other means. Oral stories in Kenyan community are usually told by one person, gathering around is the audiences. They are set at night when everything is shadowed that the tellers can convey the entire details and messages. African folktales illustrate the community’s origin, social foundations and reasons behind all of their beliefs, and particularly, folktales in the oral form help audiences appreciate the whole stories better. 

As knowing those African tales by listening directly, I feel that the stories are more imaginable and realistic. Especially, that Dr. Ochieng asked us to dance and sing which made people closer and somehow brought the atmosphere of the setting where the Kenyan folktales are told to the classroom.
Not only having an idea about how the storytelling tradition in Kenya is, I also know about the significances of stories. They all celebrate wit and quick thinking, raise the awareness of community’s and people’s history. Besides, they are also used for explaining some phenomenon. But on top of that, they always teach people some lessons about morality, ritual, values, attitudes or beliefs.
Overall the storytelling tradition in Kenya is very interesting to me that there is an interaction between the storyteller and audiences. Folktales are not only to convey lessons but also to connect people in the community together.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Native American Folktales

Native American Folktales are different from stories originated in Europe in the way they put an emphasis on illustrating their tradition and custom. In many stories, they portray the way of surviving through hunting by men or embroidery by woman. They distinguish men and women, as in “How Men and Women Got Together”, men were stronger and taller, and they had sharp sticks to get more food, while women had fine tipis made of tanned buffalo hide and had beautiful clothes. It is quite obvious to see in many Native American stories that there exist many elements related to nature (plants, animals) as they were what people stay close with all the time. 

The magic element is mostly based on their belief. For example, they believed in another life after dead, and the soul transferred from the body of one to another. The spirit was the centre of their belief and had a great power and guided people to the right way of living. In Deer Hunter and White Corn Maiden, the spirit governed the life and dead of people, decided destiny and punished those whom were against the tradition. However, the magic did not dominate in any story that most of stories bring reader back to the reality in the end.
Many stories’ endings aim at explaining some nature phenomenon. The ending that Deer Hunter and White Corn Maiden were turned into two stars is to explain the origin of two stars in the west sky that they saw in the evening. The ending of “How Mosquitoes came to be” explains why those creature sting people to get blood and they begin the scratch themselves.
Native Americans live according to the tradition. For most of people, the tradition is the basis for them to live. Any story always involves a strong sense of community. People in Native American Stories live in a group, go on a journey to get recognition of the community or live for the benefit of other people in the community. This is also to pass down lesson and maintain the tradition so that young generation was aware of their ancestor and continue their way of living.