“One library disappears when griot, a storyteller dies”
Tales of Amadou Koumba, written by Birago Diop, deals with traditional African stories. This book is a collection of traditional stories of an African region which were conveyed orally for a long time. As West Africans did not have any letter system to write down the stories which had been delivered orally to them, they needed one person called “griot,” who remembered the events, stories, art, and culture of a certain generation to hand these historical legacies down to the following generation. In this book Tales of Amadou Koumba, Amadou Koumba, the griot tells us the stories with the help of his marvelous memorization and gifted eloquence.
Regardless of the regions, traditional stories mostly teach the morals and values of life to children. Therefore, the storylines are universal and very often similar to one another. What is different is the characters or settings which vary from region to region. In the book Tales of Amadou Koumba, the storylines are very similar to Korean traditional fairytales, but the characters, settings, and the typical expressions are completely different and originally African. It is very enjoyable to experience Africa through comparing the stories with those of Korea.
Not only does this book give us pleasure but also a deep understanding about African culture and lifestyle. For the Koreans, Africa is not a region whose culture and lifestyle are much known. For them, this book, which was even put on the list of books for the National Competition for French-speaking Korean High School Students for its educational value, will be very helpful.
We are living in a globally connected world, and it is very fortunate for us to experience and feel different places through simply reading books at home without traveling there in person. This weekend, what about listening to the stories told by Amadou Koumba lying on the bed as if we returned to our childhood when we were listening to the stories being told by grandma lying on her knees?
63rd Edition of Weeklymonday (July 19, 2021)
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