Thursday, March 05, 2009

A precious cow from Tales by Moonlight

I set a goal to publish at least one book review per month and yet, February ended without any review. I intend to make it up. The good news is that the book is already picked, "Tales by Moonlight" by Nigerian Television Authority, so my review will follow shortly.

In the meantime, here is one of the stories from the book about a man, his three sons and a precious cow. I was very amused by the story when I first read it. The idea that a man disowned his children because of a cow seemed ridiculous. Until I started thinking of the cow as less of a cow but more of an asset.

The story is of Fulani origin. The Fulani are traditionally a normadic, cattle-rearing group that inhabited parts of West Africa. The cow must have been symbolic of the wealth of a Fulani man. It was all the property he had. The cow dictated the man's lifestyle - the cow's needs determined where the man resided at any point in time. Everything was done to satisfy the cow. So it should come as no big stretch of the imagination what would happen if a man fell prey to a manipulative and vindictive cow. I imagine that this story may have been used to illustrate why an alternative lifestyle was preferable to the pastoralist one. One where man farmed, made crafts and was more in control of his destiny.

The images used within the story text came from illustrations in the book.

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