Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kenyan Folktales


     I thought that Dr. Ochieng's lecture on Kenyan folktales was fascinating and interesting.  Some of the stories teach children morals and explain interesting phenomena that happen in nature that the elders of a tribe could not explain since science was not available such as the story with the bat who has to come out at night because he is hiding from a tribe of rats.  The bat killed the rat by tricking him into bathing himself into a pot of hot water in order to make some good soup and as a result, the rats went out hunting for him and the bat realizes that if it he goes out at night then the rats won't find him.  These stories however are different from the fairy tales we have read so far because these stories don't contain princesses or heroes or castles or villains.  They contain animals and don't have the hero's journey really.  They seem to be more oral than written which folktales generally are.  Fairy tales are more written than oral.

     However, the Kenyan folktales seem to resemble a lot of the Native American folktales because both tell about the beliefs and traditions of each.  They are also wise and very entertaining.  They are also very imaginative.  The language in both the Kenyan and Native American folktales is very focused in imagery which makes sense since these are oral stories which means that the people listening would have to use their imagination to picture the creatures and events happening in the story.  I found his lecture and presentation more interactive than the one Dr. Alles gave on the folklore of India.  Also, the folklore of Kenya actually made more sense than the Indian ones.  I found I could follow and identify with the characters that Dr. Ochieng presented to us.  However, the Indian ones sounded random and like a drunk person's ramble (I apologize but that's really what it sounded like to me).  What I also liked about the Kenyan presentation was that we learned new words for mom or dad or wife while in the Indian presentation, we never really learned new words.  Also, it appeared that Dr. Ochieng's topic has been closely studied and presented by not just him before while Dr. Alles is the only one in the United States who is translating these Indian tales into English and presenting on them.

      Also, the presentation that Dr. Ochieng gave was more organized.  He knew what he was doing and didn't sound like he was laughing half-way through like Dr. Alles was sounding to me.  Dr. Ochieng also even told us the stories the way that the stories would be told in a traditional Kenyan tribe, making me feel like I was really there in Kenya listening to the stories being told.  I also liked the fact that he praised Chinua Achebe who's book, Things Fall Apart, I have read and loved.  This lecture on Kenyan folklore really enriched my knowledge of folk and fairy tales because I feel like I have gotten to see another culture and understand its own traditions and beliefs, many of which I share such as the value of thinking fast on your feet and being intelligent.  The Kenyans seemed to be very intelligent even if they didn't have modern technology and I feel that the British could have learned a lot from them just like the Americans could have learned a lot from the Native Americans.

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