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Home | Facts about Africa | Folklore

African Folklore and Legends

Passed down from generation to generation...

African folklore is passed down from generation to generation and the stories are very important to the traditions and customs of all African people.

Tricksters and animals play a common role in their folklore. The stories are not only entertaining but serve to teach a lesson as well, sometimes of a moral value and other times of survival.

West Africans have many tales about a wandering trickster spirit who is associated with change and quarrels. In some stories, he is the messenger between the world and the supreme god.

Among the Fon people of Dahomey (Benin), Legba is the guardian and trickster of crossroads and entrances. He speaks all languages and has the power to remove obstacles and provide opportunities. All ceremonies begin and end with Legba because no communication with the gods can exist without first consulting him.

African folklore tales about animal tricksters often describe how helpless creatures manage to outwit fierce animals. One of the most important animal tricksters of West African legends is Anansi, who acts on behalf of the sky god, Nyame. Anansi became the King of All Stories after proving to Nyame that he could trick a jaguar, hornets and a fairy. Anansi is often depicted as a spider, a human or a combination of both. The name translates literally to "spider".

Other animal tricksters common in African legends include the tortoise and the hare. There are even stories of animals who help humans. According to the San Bushmen, the praying mantis gave them words and fire. The Bambara people of Mali claim that an antelope taught them agriculture.

Animals play an important role......

In other African Legends, animals play an important role in how death came into the world, such as the tale of the lizard that carried the message of death to mankind or the hyena that severed the rope between heaven and earth.

Many stories are based on talking animals with human characteristics, such as greed, jealousy and loneliness.

More Folklore and Legends to read ....

Hippos Don't Eat Fish

Nyami Nyami - The Zambezi River God

The Tortoise and the Birds

African King - This Is Good!

Faithless One

Guinea Fowl Child

How the Ostrich got his long neck

Many more folktales are available on this wonderful website WildMoz

Click on the links below for detailed information on these topics relating specifically to Zimbabwe..



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