|Bukusu Folktales (Kenya Literature Bureau, 1986, 134 p.)|
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.