Friday, September 29, 2006

Website Trends - April to September 2006

Here are some statistics for from April (when we signed up for Google Analytics) to September. It will be interesting to monitor the trend as time goes on. From the graph below, our traffic dropped in May and June before it started to pick up again. Several of those May/June visits can be attributed to myself - fixing, tweaking things and checking the pages - but I've applied the IP address filter in the analytics setting to avoid this in future. But I can't help but wonder what triggers the rise and fall in visits.

Here's another graph showing a graphical depiction of where our visitors are located. At least, where about 80% of our visitors are located (some locations could not be determined). What does it tell us? That people in the United States are most likely to be searching for folktales online? I don't know but again, it'll be nice to monitor the trend as time goes on.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

500 Gold Bars

A little digression here to talk about West African history.

I was chatting with a colleague when the subject of ancient West Africa came up. And I was ashamed to learn that I knew too little. I know of the Fulani and Ashanti empires, I know of Uthman Dan Fodio who was a great Islamic scholar and his influence in Northern Nigeria, then there was the slave trade accompanied by inter-tribal wars, there was colonialism, there was the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates to create a country called Nigeria - I proudly shared these facts remembered from primary school social studies classes. But was told, "no no, all that's recent, there's history way before that". And of course there should be, but somehow it's history that's overlooked or compressed into the term "pre-colonial times". It certainly did not help that the people of West Africa did not have a form of writing.
Now, allfolktales folks are digging around to learn more about West African history and some interesting bits here:

Mansa Musa

Mansa Musa Mansa Musa was king of the Mali Empire from 1312 - 1337 where the popular Timbuktu was centered. For some reason, it never occurred to me that Timbuktu was in West Africa - and not just a fabled place adventurers spent their lives prospecting for gold.
Mansa Musa is very well known because of his documented hajj to Mecca in 1324. He reportedly travelled with 500 slaves, each carrying a bar of gold. He was so generous to the people he met along the way, giving out gold and treasures that the price of gold in Cairo became depressed for 12 years.

The Mali empire was succeeded by the Shongai empire in the 15th and 16th centuries.

It is amazing that there could have been so much wealth then and so little now. But maybe that's not entirely surprising, considering how freely the wealth was given away. Mansa Musa reportedly spent all the gold he brought on the trip that he had to borrow money to go back home.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tale Snippet - Omode meta n sere

Rather than wait till we have all the pieces of a story, in which case we keep asking pestering the few people we have access to keep digging into their memory, we have decided to post the tale fragments we have here on the blog...and hopefully down the line, we'll develop the story enough to add to our folktale collection. If you know any part of this story, please do not hesitate to chime in.

A tale of three brothers

This is a story I heard frequently as a child but can no longer remember the details.
"Omode meta n sere" is a Yoruba sentence which translates to "Three kids are playing" and is the song which accompanies the story, made popular by the adaptation of the Plantation Boys (a Nigerian band).

In the story, these boys were brothers who set out to prove their prowess in their choice task. But why? And what happened afterwards? Was there a dying father who set them out on these respective challenges? These are the parts that we have missing.

The song comes in just after the boys pick out the choice challenge/activity. It goes like this:

Omode meta n sere
Ere o, erere ayo - chorus
Ikan lo wun o g'ope
Ere o, erere ayo
Ikan lo wun o we'kun
Ere o, erere ayo
Ikan lo wun o yin bon
Ere o, erere ayo


Three kids are playing
Playing, having fun - chorus
One said he would climb a palm tree (The challenge was probably to climb the tallest tree)
One said he would swim the ocean (swim the longest ocean)
One said he would shoot a gun (shoot the longest distance, may be an arrow)

They probably each completed their challenges but then what happened?

Friday, September 01, 2006

We welcome Ananse

Rev P E Adotey Addo is a Ghanian-born folklorist and poet living in North Carolina. He has contributed two stories, Ananse and the pot of wisdom and Kweku Ananse outsmarts himself from his book, How the Spider Became Bald: Folktales and Legends from West Africa. So, we at heartily welcome Ananse, the popular Ghanian trickster spider to our site.

Rev Addo's website is at but it appears to be undergoing some work at the moment. Will update this once the site is available.