The stories in this Anthology come from books in the public domain, meaning books no longer copyrighted because they were published before 1927. As such, these are racist books from colonial times, written for white audiences, and must be read with that caution in mind. At the same time, these old books provide precious written evidence of African storytelling traditions from a century ago, and those stories in turn connect us to the many centuries of storytellers who came before.

My hope is that this anthology of stories taken from the public domain will inspire you to keep on reading and to explore stories from contemporary sources, especially books by African and African American writers — books that are just a click away at the Internet Archive, and also in your local libraries and local bookstores too.

The stories are arranged in the order of the sources, with the first part of the story’s number referring to the item in the Bibliography portion of this book. So, for example, 19-1 here is the first story in the Anthology, and it comes from item #19 in the Bibliography portion of this book. I’ve edited the stories in small ways — trying to use a consistent punctuation style, resolving ambiguous pronouns, etc. — in order to make the writing more accessible to today’s readers. There is also a Notes section following the stories with some additional commentary. When the stories were illustrated, I have included the illustrations too.


Contents of the Anthology:

19-1. Ghana. How We Got the Name “Anansi Tales.”
19-2. Ghana. Wisdom and the Human Race.
19-3. Ghana. Thunder and Anansi.
23-4. Uganda. The Flame Tree.
23-5. Uganda. The Buffalo Maiden.
23-6. Uganda. The Elephant that Wanted to Dance.
24-7. Algeria. The Language of the Beasts.
24-8. Algeria. Half-a-Rooster.
25-9. Zanzibar. The Hare and the Lion.
25-10. Zanzibar. Goso the Teacher.
25-11. Zanzibar. Mkaah Jeechonee, the Boy Hunter.
27-12. Cameroon. How Mafani Earned His Bride.
27-13. Cameroon. How the Turtle Outwitted the Pig.
27-14. South Africa. The Punishment of the Turtle.
35-15. South Africa. Mantis and Will-o-the-Wisp.
35-16. South Africa. Mantis and Aardwolf.
36-17. South Africa. The Rooster’s Kraal.
36-18. South Africa. The Three Little Eggs.
41-19. Mozambique. How the Animals Dug Their Well.
41-20. Mozambique. Death of the Hare.
63-21. Sierra Leone. Cunning Rabbit and His Well.
63-22. Sierra Leone. A Ghost Story.
67-23. Nigeria. The Hunter and His Friends.
67-24. Nigeria. Of the Fat Woman who Melted Away.
67-25. Nigeria. The Leopard, the Squirrel, and the Tortoise.
68-26. Congo. The Spider and Nzambi’s Daughter.
68-27. Congo. A Different Story about Nzambi’s Daughter.
68-28. Congo. The Rabbit and the Antelope.
121-29. Mozambique. Motikatika.
121-30. Zimbabwe. How Isuro the Rabbit Tricked Gudu.
121-31. Lesotho. The Sacred Milk of Koumongoe.
121-32. Lesotho. The Jackal, the Dove, and the Panther.
128-33. Ethiopia. The Lion, the Hyena, and the Fox.
128-34. Ethiopia. How the Fox Followed the Elephant.
128-35. Ethiopia. The Debbi.
130-36. Zanzibar. The Elephant and the Rabbit.
130-37. Zanzibar. The Frog and the Chameleon.
130-38. Zanzibar. The Man and the Sheep.
138-39. South Africa. The Horns of Plenty.
138-40. South Africa. Tanga, the Child of Night.
138-41. South Africa. The Snake with Five Heads.
147-42. Gabon. The Leopard of the Fine Skin.
147-43. Cameroon. Tortoise in a Race.
147-44. Equatorial Guinea. A Chain of Circumstances.
191-45. Nigeria. The Spider Passes on a Debt.
191-46. Nigeria. The Hyena and the Spider Visit the King.
191-47. Nigeria. The Woman who Bore a Clay Pot.
197-48. Congo. How the Gazelle Won His Wife.
197-49. Congo. How the Fox Saved the Frog’s Life.
197-50. Congo. How the Squirrel Repaid a Kindness.


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A Reader's Guide to African Folktales at the Internet Archive Copyright © 2022 by Laura Gibbs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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