To Remember When, Means Folktale Time
Not all memories are worth a makeover?
It’s a trilogy! To most authors, that means good news. On my account, the books I write are somewhat short and three do not even constitute one whole book – 80,000 words. So the battle rages and we keep on, keeping on.
By now, most of our readers know a little of my bushveld background, but if not, you missed nothing. The reason I raised that subject is to explain why the African Folktales feature so prominently on Wildmoz.
Because of this bush background, as a child I had no choice but to listen to folktales or folklore almost every evening after dinner – usually in the boma. Some modern and some old. But it was the older ones that most enthralled me and it’s these that pricked my ears when I first heard them.
Life then happens and we move on, getting older until one day a child makes an odd remark. Suddenly, one is reeling back to your youth, with smoke coming from your heels as you screech to a halt.
Folktales! Of course, folktales… I remember folktales? What happened to all the folktales?
I began in earnest to rack my brains, that of many friends, family, the Internet and even old books. Nothing! Well, nothing worth writing home about anyway.
To my sorrow, I found out that we, as a people, had forgotten our folktale heritage and missed out on a great education. The folktales I found, which were recorded, were either shortened to suit the teller or rehashed in some alien way and I could not comprehend head nor tail of the tale in question.
I decided the time had come for someone to put their mind right and come up with the correct goods to set the record straight. Someone needed to write these folktales down for the future before they get lost to us for ever.
Most folktales are oral history, handed down from generation to generation. My feeling was, unless they were recorded, they would go missing for ever. The joke of the matter ended at my feet. Therefore, for better or worse, I became impelled to rewrite the African Folktales of old for posterity. How noble is that? Not in the slightest actually, but I’m in so deep I’m over my head with my commitments, but finish, I must.
When I began, I told my wife – who is a professional writer – to use her name as author and I’ll do the art. Cool, hey? Well that only lasted a few years, until two of our children insisted I get brave and sign my own books and write more while I was about it. And that is how the short story books on African Folktales were born.
Well a folktale is just a folktale, right? Indubitably not!
I like Albert Einstein’s reasoning when confronted with a woman wanting the genius physicist’s advice. This mother wanted to know, what books she should read to her young son to prepare him for being a successful scientist.
“Read him folktales,” was all Einstein suggested.
“Fine, but what else should I read to him after that?” the mother asked.
“More folktales,” responded Einstein.
“And after that?” she asked again.
“Even more folktales,” said Einstein, waving his pipe with a sweep of his arm in conclusion as he walked off.
What the man was meaning is that folktales inspire a creative mind, which is exactly what scientist feed on.
I would imagine another reference may be in order, therefore I have included that of J. K. Rowling, the author of ‘Harry Potter’ fame. She remarked to Oprah Winfrey in an interview at the Balmoral Hotel, Scotland, that she loved folktales and Oprah agreed, saying she did too.
Why did I reference these three celebrities? Because many people think reading folktales is dumb. It is not dumb, but a personal preference, which is sad, because folktales are some of the best material being used in schools today. They teach children morals, dialog and correct writing skills in a wonderful story.
In 2015, ‘How The Zebra Got His Stripes’ was paired up with ‘Watership Down’ – by Richard Adams – as a teaching aid for 6-8th grade literary composition across selected USA schools. I am pleased to say, the situation is ongoing and has been renewed every year. It is very rewarding to know one’s piece of literature is being used to teach better skills and I am pleased the long-form story (about 4,000 words) is now preserved.
Here then is our humble contribution to modern reading. In December, we at Wildmoz will be hosting a limited give away of free eBooks to our followers, so keep a lookout if you’re interested.