Author: Sukai Mbye Bojang

Publisher: Educational Services

ISBN-13: 987-9983-901-07-8

Who is not acquainted with the riveting work Roots: The Sage of an American Family by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Alex Haley, which not only hit the New York Times Best Seller List in late 1976, but went on to become a highly acclaimed TV miniseries, one of the best of all time? As you no doubt remember, the story starts with the discovery of the (since disputed) fact that Haley’s forebear, Kunta Kinte, was abducted from a small village called Juffure in The Gambia by slave traders, who shipped him, as they did so many tens of thousands of others, across the Atlantic to be sold into slavery in the then so-called “New World”. Despite the grimness of much of its subject matter, who, on reading “Roots”, has not been attracted by the rich descriptions of African people and wildlife residing in the country of Kinte’s birth? In Folk Tales and Fables of the Gambia, Volume 3, both the cultural practices of the Gambian people and the behavior traits for which such animals as elephants, hyenas, snakes and tigers are well-known, are portrayed in all their uniqueness and richness, making this a collection of short stories to be treasured by both old and young.

The moral emphasis of the tales in no way dissipates the pleasure that author Sukai Mbye Bojang wishes to instil in her readers, and, although the intended target audience is youngsters of school-going age, in the light of the amount of tourism that the Gambia attracts, this book, as well as its two predecessors, should make ideal reading for those intending to visit the country. The stories are not only amusing and enlightening, but they also serve as a valuable introduction to a country that, being the smallest on the African continent, has tended to receive relatively little press coverage.

If you are interested in sharing the enjoyment of a good story about Africa with your children and grandchildren, look no further than this series, which, in some ways, is reminiscent of Arthur Ransome’s tales of children with their waterside pursuits. The Gambia is, after all, a country that was formed along a major waterway leading into the African interior. Similarly, this series provides a conduit into the African soul, albeit one with marked British influence. The country did, after all, only gain full independence from British rule in 1965, and English remains its only official language.

With the current volume focusing on tales from the Wollof and Jola tribes, and previous volumes containing stories sourced from the Mandingo, Wollof and Fula tribes, Bojang intends to include fables from the Serahuli tribe in her next volume in the series of Folk Tales and Fables of The Gambia. Personally, I look forward to reading her forthcoming work very much indeed.

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