Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Anansi - 13 Commonwealth Tales



We're all about Anansi this week, and so here is Mhairi M Robertson's Anansi illustration from our forthcoming 13 Commonwealth Tales storybook. We'll be launching the book in September, more info soon, but Mhairi has done a grand job with the illustrations for each story, from scary island giants to cheerful forest spirits, each piece is totally distinct and rather special. We can't wait to share more of them with  you.

And don't forget our Commonwealth Storytelling at Dutch Gable House this Saturday...


Monday, 21 July 2014

Anansi Tales


Of all the commonwealth charcaters we've encountered so far, few are more impressive or far reaching as Anansi. He's actually ended up in both our books, in very different ways. The Anansi stories originated from Ghana’s Ashanti tribe. There is an Anansi story that explains the phenomenon of how his name became attached to the whole corpus of tales:

Once there were no stories in the world. The Sky-God, Nyame, had them all. Anansi went to Nyame and asked how much they would cost to buy.

Nyame set a high price: Anansi must bring back Onini the Python, Osebo the Leopard, the Mmoboro Hornets, and Mmoatia the dwarf.

Anansi set about capturing these. First he went to where Python lived and debated out loud whether Python was really longer than the palm branch or not as his wife Aso says. Python overheard and, when Anansi explained the debate, agreed to lie along the palm branch. Because he cannot easily make himself completely straight a true impression of his actual length is difficult to obtain, so Python agreed to be tied to the branch. When he was completely tied, Anansi took him to Nyame.

To catch the leopard, Anansi dug a deep hole in the ground. When the leopard fell in the hole Anansi offered to help him out with his webs. Once the leopard was out of the hole though he was bound in Anansi’s webs and was carried away.

To catch the hornets, Anansi filled a calabash with water and poured some over a banana leaf he held over his head and some over the nest, calling out that it was raining. He suggested the hornets get into the empty calabash, and when they obliged, he quickly sealed the opening.

To catch the dwarf he made a doll and covered it with sticky gum. He placed the doll under the odum tree where the dwarfs play and put some yam in a bowl in front of it. When the dwarf came and ate the yam she thanked the doll which of course did not reply. Annoyed at its bad manners she struck it, first with one hand then the other. The hands stuck and Anansi captured her.

Anansi handed his captives over to Nyame. Nyame rewarded him with the stories, which now become known as Anansi stories. You can hear some Anansi Tales at our Commonwealth Storytelling event at Dutch Gable House this Saturday.



Meantime, the Anansimasters project, has collected and shared a whole range of Anansi tales online in a variety of languages. Here is just one...



Magic Torch are sharing Commonwealth folktales as part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games celebrations. In addition to publishing a book and comic, which retell some commonwealth tales, we are also sharing traditional tales on our blog. We are presenting the stories exactly as collected, without editing or rewriting. Some of the tales have been recorded recently, others, many years ago in traditional forms, more often than not using dialects and local mannerisms - the "voice" of the people telling the tales. We have opted not to change this.

The Herald and Sunday Herald Children of the Commonwealth series will run over the coming months as the Queen's Baton travels the world on its way to Scotland. As well as bringing readers inspiring stories from key locations on the baton route, it is also raising money for UNICEF, an official charity partner of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

There are a number of different ways to donate: you can call 0800 044 5777; or you can click on unicef.org.uk/herald; or you can text 'CHILD' to 70111 to donate £3. UNICEF is the world's leading children's organisation, working to save and change children's lives.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Achi Baba

Achi Baba, Gallipoli, seen from a point near the French lines
www.firstworldwar.com

Magic Torch have secured £8900 from Heritage Lottery "First World War - Then and Now" fund, to retell an important story from Inverclyde's World War One history.

We will explore the Battle of Achi Baba at Gallipoli in Turkey, in which 300 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, mostly from Gourock, fell in a battle in which only 350 yards were captured. We will be working with local schools, the Argyll and Sutherland archive and McLean Museum on the project over the next 12 months.

A book, telling the story of Achi Baba, will be released on 12 July 2015, on the 100th Anniversary of the battle. As ever it will be made freely available in physical editions and online.

As with some of our more recent projects, the story will be re-told as a graphic novel. There is rich tradition of war comics which explore the horrors and human aspects of war, without seeking to glorify those battles and sacrifices; we will be drawing from that tradition.  In addition to the Achi Baba comic, an online audiobook and short online comic vignettes exploring other aspects of the war will also be created by volunteers and shared online.

Initial research and writing on the project begins shortly, and we will be sharing more regular updates and further information on how to get involved throughout August.

Our project is one of a number of World War One Centenary projects going on around Inverclyde, including the digitisation of WWI Propaganda posters at the McLean Museum, and Working The War at The Dutch Gable House.

A service will be held at Gourock War Memorial this Saturday at 11am to honour the men of the 5th Argylls who fell at Achi Baba.



Sunday, 6 July 2014

Sharktopus Attack!


A preview panel for Uncommon Tales, in which Sir Glen battles Lusca, the Sharktopus found in the Bahamas.

This folktale of course inspired the epic movie...Sharktopus, which is way better than Sharknado. But obviously not as good as Ghost Shark or Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark.


Monday, 23 June 2014

South Africa - Lions Illness


LION, it is said, was ill, and they all went to see him in his suffering. But Jackal did not go, because the traces of the people who went to see him did not turn back. Thereupon, he was accused by Hyena, who said, "Though I go to look, yet Jackal does not want to come and look at the man's sufferings."

Then Lion let Hyena go, in order that she might catch Jackal; and she did so, and brought him.

Lion asked Jackal: "Why did you not come here to see me?"

Jackal said, "Oh, no! when I heard that my uncle was so very ill, I went to the witch (doctor) to consult him, whether and what medicine would be good for my uncle against the pain. The doctor said to me, 'Go and tell your uncle to take hold of Hyena and draw off her skin, and put it on while it is still warm. Then he will recover.' Hyena is one who does not care for my uncle's sufferings."

Lion followed Jackal's advice, got hold of Hyena, drew the skin over her cars, whilst she howled with all her might, and then put it on and was better.

You can read the full text of James A Honey's South African Folktales at Sacred Texts


Magic Torch are sharing Commonwealth folktales as part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games celebrations. In addition to publishing a book and comic, which retell some commonwealth tales, we are also sharing traditional tales on our blog. We are presenting the stories exactly as collected, without editing or rewriting. Some of the tales have been recorded recently, others, many years ago in traditional forms, more often than not using dialects and local mannerisms - the "voice" of the people telling the tales. We have opted not to change this.

The Herald and Sunday Herald Children of the Commonwealth series will run over the coming months as the Queen's Baton travels the world on its way to Scotland. As well as bringing readers inspiring stories from key locations on the baton route, it is also raising money for UNICEF, an official charity partner of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

There are a number of different ways to donate: you can call 0800 044 5777; or you can click on unicef.org.uk/herald; or you can text 'CHILD' to 70111 to donate £3. UNICEF is the world's leading children's organisation, working to save and change children's lives.

Monday, 16 June 2014

South Africa - Demane and Demazana


Warning - obviously we like our folklore, red in tooth and claw, even though what we tend to be used to culturally, are the sanitised versions of these stories. This is a story which shares some themes with another popular (just as scary) European folktale...

Once upon a time a brother and sister, who were twins and orphans, were obliged on account of ill usage, to run away from their relatives. The boy's name was Demane, the girl's Demazana.

They went to live in a cave that had two holes to let in air and light, the entrance to which was protected by a very strong door, with a fastening inside. Demane went out hunting by day, and told his sister that she was not to roast any meat while he was absent, lest the cannibals should discover their retreat by the smell. The girl would have been quite safe if she had done as her brother commanded. But she was wayward, and one day she took some buffalo meat and put it on a fire to roast.

A cannibal smelt the flesh cooking, and went to the cave, but found the door fastened. So he tried to imitate Demane's voice, and asked to be admitted, singing this song:-

"Demazana, Demazana,
Child of my mother,
Open this cave to me.
The swallows can enter it.
It has two apertures."

Demazana said: "No. You are not my brother; your voice is not like his."
The cannibal went away, but after a little time came back again, and spoke in another tone of voice: "Do let me in, my sister."
The girl answered: "Go away, you cannibal; your voice is hoarse, you are not my brother."
So he went away and consulted with another cannibal. He said: "What must I do to obtain what I desire?"
He was afraid to tell what his desire was, lest the other cannibal should want a share of the girl.
His friend said: "You must burn your throat with a hot iron."
He did so, and then no longer spoke hoarse. Again he presented himself before the door of the cave, and sang,--

"Demazana, Demazana,
child of my mother,
Open this cave to me.
The swallows can enter it.
It has two apertures."

The girl was deceived. She believed him to be her brother come back from hunting, so she opened the door. The cannibal went in and seized her.

As she was being carried away, she dropped some ashes here and there along the path. Soon after this, Demane, who had taken nothing that day but a swarm of bees, returned and found his sister gone. He guessed what had happened, and followed the path by means of the ashes until he came to Zim's dwelling. The cannibal's family were out gathering firewood, but he was at home, and had just put Demazana in a big bag, where he intended to keep her till the fire was made.

Demane said: "Give me water to drink, father."
Zim replied: "I will, if you will promise not to touch my bag."
Demane promised. Then Zim went to get some water; and while he was away, Demane took his sister out of the bag, and put the bees in it, after which they both concealed themselves.
When Zim came with the water, his wife and son and daughter came also with firewood.
He said to his daughter: "There is something nice in the bag; go bring, it."
She went, but the bees stung her hand, and she called out: "It is biting."
He sent his son, and afterwards his wife, but the result was the same. Then he became angry, and drove them outside, and having put a block of wood in the doorway, he opened the bag himself. The bees swarmed out and stung his head, particularly his eyes, so that he could not see.

There was a little hole in the thatch, and through this he forced his way. He jumped about, howling with pain. Then he ran and fell headlong into a pond, where his head stuck fast in the mud, and he became a block of wood like the stump of a tree. The bees made their home in the stump, but no one could get their honey, because, when any one tried, his hand stuck fast.

Demane and Demazana then took all Zim's possessions, which were very great, and they became wealthy people.

This is from Xhosa Folklore collected by George McCall Theal. The full collection can be read via Sacred texts.

Magic Torch are sharing Commonwealth folktales as part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games celebrations. In addition to publishing a book and comic, which retell some commonwealth tales, we are also sharing traditional tales on our blog. We are presenting the stories exactly as collected, without editing or rewriting. Some of the tales have been recorded recently, others, many years ago in traditional forms, using dialects and local mannerisms - the "voice" of the people telling the tales. We have opted not to change this.

The Herald and Sunday Herald Children of the Commonwealth series will run over the coming months as the Queen's Baton travels the world on its way to Scotland. As well as bringing readers inspiring stories from key locations on the baton route, it is also raising money for UNICEF, an official charity partner of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

There are a number of different ways to donate: you can call 0800 044 5777; or you can click on unicef.org.uk/herald; or you can text 'CHILD' to 70111 to donate £3. UNICEF is the world's leading children's organisation, working to save and change children's lives.