Monday, February 02, 2009

Girl in drum, gourd seeds, do these ring a bell?

Do you recall a folktale about a greedy boy, his sister and gourd seeds? Or one about a monster who traps a girl in a drum? A reader, Mary, is looking for some folktale volumes she had read as a kid. Here's her note and my response.

Mary said: I learned to read from a series of collected fables African fables,
Aesop's fables, etc. They were old rebound volumes in 1978. they were short
children's stories and had black/white wood cutting illustrations. I would love
to find out if these texts are still available. As far as the stories: I remember one about a girl whose parents died and her greedy brother took all the family goods and left only the hut. She found a gourd seed in the hut, planted it, and made a living selling gourds. The brother came back and was enraged that she "stole" from him and took the gourds, even cutting off her hand when she tried to protect them. I can't remember how it ends. I also remember a story about monster who traps a girl with a beautiful voice in his drum and makes her sing whenever he beats the drum. A prince found out about the girl and helped her escape, putting bees in the drum. When the monster beat the drum and it didn't sing, he opened it to beat the girl but instead the enraged bees flew out and stung the monster to death. Ringing any bells?

I said: Do you recall the title of any these books? I'm not familiar with the stories you mentioned. However, the one about the girl trapped in a drum does ring a bell. But it's a different version of the story. I recall a story where Ijapa (Tortoise) traps a boy with a beautiful singing voice in a drum. I can't remember how the boy came to be trapped in the first place or the rest of the story but I'm sure Ijapa suffered for his deceit as usual. I'm sorry I'm unable to help but I really appreciate you sharing these tidbits. Who knows, perhaps another reader recognizes these stories.

If these stories do ring a bell for you, please share your memories. Thanks.


jem said...

I would like to know the Ghanian folktale that inspired the composition of the song "Turn the World Around" (famously performed by Harry Belafonte) The folktale may be a creation story, as the song has to with the interconnection of fire, water, mountain, river, sunlight and sprirt.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have been searching for the book above (with the tale of the girl and her gourd) for years--I used to read it in my school library years ago and wish I could find it.

maggie said...

Bimwili and the Zimwi is the story about the girl trapped in the drum!

Anonymous said...

Maggie, thank you so much, I was obsessing over that the past few days. I kept Googling "Boy lured into drum by African urchin", ha.

And the story with the gourd is "Anansi and the Talking Melon".