Why the Moon and the Stars Receive Their Light From the Sun:
Oh, a dragon in an African tale! I didn’t expect this. I wonder how this dragon differs from the typical image of the European dragon. It does breathe fire, which is pretty typical. What other monsters appear in African folklore?
I really like Kweku because he has all of the attributes of a trickster: he’s clever, quick-thinking, and bold. However, he makes wise decisions and uses those traits to keep his father from screwing things up. However, it still seems like he loves his father, even though he’s a troublemaker.
This story has an interesting way of incorporating the gods in a way that hasn’t been done before. Why do they choose to hold onto the rope? It would be interesting to have more details about them.
I love how Kweku stops the dragon from climbing up the rope by distracting it with food and music.
“Thereafter, it was Kweku Tsin’s privilege to supply all these with light, each being dull and powerless without him.” This is definitely a laugh-out-loud moment with the subtle jab at Anansi.
I wonder if this story is supposed to be “the end” of Anansi stories, since he’s turned into the moon. I’m not really a big fan of that ending; it seems strange that the nameless gods would turn humans into celestial bodies just for escaping a dragon.
How the Tortoise Got Its Shell:
I love it when the myths that explain how things came to be start with situations vastly different from real life. Like in this story, the tortoise is tall, fast, and an excellent warrior, which we would never associate with turtles.
“The amount which he had drunk, however, made him feel so sleepy and tired that he could not walk fast with his load.” This is a clever detail that explains why turtles are so slow.
The Hunter and the Tortoise:
I like that this story includes a song that contains hints about what the story will be about. It reminds me of books that have short poems, riddles, or songs in them that eventually come to mean something to the story. I’ve always wanted to try including one of those in a story, but I’ve found it difficult to plan it well.
West African Folktales by William H. Barker and Cecilia Sinclair with drawings by Cecilia Sinclair (1917). Web source.
Image 1: Waxprints in a West African shop. Source – Wikipedia
Image 2: Kweku distracting the dragon. Drawing by Cecilia Sinclair. Source – West African Folktales
Image 3: An African spurred tortoise. Source – Flickr.