Children Born from Eggs

ISBN 978-3-89645-192-7

Children Born from Eggs

African Magic Tales – Texts and Discussions

Author: Sigrid Schmidt.

Series: Afrika erzählt Volume 9

526 pp.
1 illustration, appendix: Analyses of Tales, Motif-Index, Subject Index
Text language(s): English
Format: 155 x 230 mm
780 g
€ 49.80

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Are there magic tales in Africa at all? Even among authorities there are many pros and cons. This book wants to join the debate and claim: Yes, there are! The author, who brings in more than 45 years of attachment to African folklore and the insights gained by listening to hundreds of different story-tellers, approaches the subject from various aspects.

In part I she offers 70 tales which she recorded in Namibia between 1975 and 1997. These texts, most of them examples of magic tales, have not been published before. They are addressed to any reader who enjoys reading folktales:

The Girl and Her Six Brothers / The Dancing Ogre / Little Clever Girl and the Dancing Ogre / The Speaking Horn / The Seven Daughters and the Ogre / The Four Daughters and the Ogre / The Three Daughters and the Ogre (I) / The Three Daughters and the Ogre (II) / The Sisters Who Married Elephants / The Naughty Girl / The Ogress and Her Pretty Daughter / The Girl Who First Wanted to Serve Milk to Her Brothers / The Children and the Lion / Two Brothers and the Ogre / The Bathing Young Women and the Ogres / Dairos and the Frog Woman / The Ghost Woman / The Strange Woman / The Daughter of the Ogre / Little Clever Girl and the Big Snake / The Girl and the People who Jumped over Bushes / The Speaking Beads and the Ogre with a Bowl Filled with Blood / The Girl Who Stayed Alone in the House / The Baby in the Earthhole / The Woman Who Kept her Baby in an Earthhole / Little Clever Girl and her Elder Sister / Two Sisters in the House of a Man-eater / The Woman Who was Caught in a Trap / The Song of the Ogre’s Wife / The Ogres and the Baby / The Man Who Looked for a Shelter during the Rain / The Ogre and the “Rotten” Woman / The Ogress and the Pregnant Woman / The Old Ogress Who had to Watch the Nama Woman / The Twelve Ogres and Their Old Mother / The Old Ogress Who was too Weak to Catch People / The Ogre, the Lion and the Man Who had his Eyes on his Feet / The Man-Eater and his Shoes / The Two Ogres Who Tried to Cook a Devil / The Son Who Was Kept in a Sack / The Boy Who Fought the Ogre / The Boy and the Two Ogres at the Pool / The Girls Imprisoned in the Village of the Ogres / The Girl who Fled from her Father, the Man-eater / The Wife Who Wanted to Eat the Liver of her Stepson / The Young Man Who Set Out to See the Great Thing / The Beautiful Girl and her Treacherous Friends / The Beautiful Girl and the Singing Reed / These are Only Things of this World / The Girl Who Fell in Love With a Horse / The Snake Lover / The Story of Fire and Rain / The Hunters and the Monster / The Strange Dog / The Ghost Child / The Tokolossi Child / The Hyena and the Little Girl / The Poor Little Girl and the Enemy Soldiers / The Murder of the Little Nama Boy / Little Lioness and her Friend Little Steenbok / The Elephant Woman and the Mongoose Man / The Inquisitive Man / The Son Who Set Out to Build his Own House / The Little Boy Who Saved the Girls from the Ogres / The Singing Sack / Twenty Young People and the Ogres / The Bird That did not Allow to Use Its Water / The Eggs of the Ogre Bird / The Beautiful Girl / The Boys and Their Calves / Gôarosa gere kaikai Hiras xa = The Girl Who was Brought up by a Hyena (Nama / English).

Part II gives the background information on the narrators and the individual tales, part III a general discussion of the character of African magic tales from the literary and folkloristic point of view. The study focusses on the traditions of the Nama-speaking peoples but they are always seen in relation to further African lore, particularly to their Bushmen (San) and Bantu-speaking neighbours. Special emphasis is laid on a comparison with European Zaubermärchen. Part IV adds the tools for a closer study: motif analysis of all existing variants of this group of tales, motif index according to Stith Thompson and subject index.

The author wants to help African readers to appreciate fully their local heritage but also to see it in relation to further African and international traditions, and to help Western readers to understand and appreciate African lore.

In her Catalogue of the Khoisan Folktales of Southern Africa, re-edited in 2013, Sigrid Schmidt lists and compares all tales which were told by Khoisan people and said to have been learned orally. The catalogue consists of two volumes that can be ordered separately or together, see the following links:

Accompanying material:



Clearly, the author has commanding knowledge of both the texts (language) of the tales themselves as well as the sociocultural and the physical contexts within which they are narrated.

Hasan El-Shamy in Journal of Folklore Research, 18.6.2009/online, 1-4

Schmidt hat im Rahmen ihrer Erzähldaten und der vergleichenden Lektüre ein Maximum an Information dokumentiert und analytisch durchdrungen. Bestechend ist die Präzision der Datendarstellung und gute Lesbarkeit ihrer Ausführungen. Die Abhandlung ist als folkloristisches Meisterwerk anzusehen, das eine Schwelle aufzeigt, jenseits der die weitere Erzählforschung in dieser Richtung nur mehr als Teamarbeit vorstellbar wird.

Thomas Geider in Fabula, 50/2009, 371-374

Dieses insgesamt mehr als 500 Seiten umfassende Buch ist wissenschaftlich zweifellos ein beeindruckendes Werk, das für alle Erzählforscher eine wahre Fundgrube sein wird. [...]

Verlegerisch in bewährter Weise vom Köppe Verlag betreut ist das Buch auch im Hinblick auf Satz und Layout handwerklich gut gemacht. Ziel der Autorin ist es, nicht nur einen Beitrag zur wissenschaftlichen Erforschung afrikanischen Erzählgutes zu leisten, sondern zugleich zum Erhalt des kulturellen Erbes Afrikas beizutragen. Das dürfte ihr gelungen sein, und auch die an solchen Geschichten stets interessierten namibischen Khoekhoen werden ihre Arbeit sehr zu schätzen wissen.

Sabine Klocke-Daffa in Anthropos, 105/2010, 306-307

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