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close this bookBukusu Folktales (Kenya Literature Bureau, 1986, 134 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe Boy Who ate the Elephants' Rumps
View the documentThe Hare and the Leopard
View the documentMwambu and Sella
View the documentThe Story of Apelu
View the documentHare Steals a Hen
View the documentSimbi and Namakanda
View the documentKhole
View the documentWanakhatandi
View the documentA Father and His Son
View the documentAn Old Woman and Her Deformed Son
View the documentThe Dog and the Leopard's Children
View the documentNasio and her Brother
View the documentHare, Hyena and Lizard
View the documentKasawa and his Forbidden Pumpkins
View the documentA Woman and Her Daughter of Clay
View the documentHare leads Leopard to a Hive
View the documentHyena and Baboon
View the documentHare and Elephant Pay a Visit
View the documentLemata and Katamba
View the documentThree Men meet a Strange Old Woman
View the documentA Hyena Ate His Protector
View the documentThe Secret of a Murder
View the documentA Bull Newt Who Refused to heed his wife's advice
View the documentA Dying Old Woman earns Bridewealth for her Sons
View the documentFortuity is like Dew Drops
View the documentA Basket Maker Declares Himself Free from the Burden of Debts
View the documentThe Thirsty Intruder
View the documentBack Cover


Bukusu Folktales

Our ancestors transmitted their wisdom and traditions from one generation to another through the medium of folklore, which included folk-tales. They were able to informally educate their youth in the values of good morals and affairs of the wider world. It was the responsibility of elders to tutor young men with whom they came into contact at fireside gatherings, usually at night. Girls and younger boys received their tuition from grandmothers, more or less in similar circumstances. Besides instructional lessons, folk tales helped to divert the attention of youths from idle gossip, and in the evenings they were used for coaxing younger children to sleep, especially as the relaxed atmosphere in which stories were told was most conducive to drowsiness.

While some stories conveyed moral lessons, others provided humour and entertainment to the listeners. Basically, folk tales reflected the panorama of the habitat from which the storyteller drew his raw stuff. Animal characters represented in the tales were mainly those that were observed and studied very closely within a particular environment. Some animals were exalted for their wisdom and ruse while others were ridiculed for their greed and intolerance. For example, the wisdom of Hare stands out supreme in contrast to the strength of Elephant and clumsiness of Hyena. An exception to the animal creatures was the Ogre, which always represented mystery and terror. The existence of this half-human creature seems to be a legendary phenomenon.