delicious and funny stories from Africa

In collaboration with RTL, Albin Michel Youth opened its large library. For this season 3 of read me a story, libraries and media libraries are in action. In the program: of course adventure, friendship, doubt, but also love…

Discover Why does the turtle have a shell? drawn from Little stories about why by Alain Serge Dzotap, illustrated by Marie Novion. The story was read by Muriel Andrieux, from the Pierre Veilletet library in Bordeaux-Caudéran.

“Why does the turtle have a shell? Why does the crocodile walk flattened? Why does the chameleon change color? Alain Serge Dzotap revisits the great Cameroonian tradition of why tales in a tasty way.

Inspired by the traditional stories of the Bamileke peoplethese stories humorously explain various phenomena or situations such as a chameleon changing color or a pig scratching the ground…
From 3 years.

Little Tales of Why

Credit: Albin Michel Youth

For teachers who want to use this story in the classroom, some useful information:

In Africa, storytelling is a true institution, a legacy of the ancients. It is a form of oral literature, at night during the vigil. Often he is inspired by sayings, proverbs. This is a story or fable. Through him, elders convey moral values. This is how we learn to “live together”. The story is often full of wisdom, and the little stories of why don’t run away.

In Cameroon, where author Alain Serge Dzotap hails from, the stories of why are written into the country’s history.

It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that writers like Blaise Cendras translated and imported some African stories to Europe.example to Little Negro Tales for White Children First published in 1929, then republished in 2016 by Albin Michel Jeunesse and the National Library of France, Blaise Cendras pays tribute to this oral literature. He translates and sublimates the words heard.

In 2018, a controversy arose over the reissue of these stories. The controversy concerns the use of the word “nigger” in the title. The false controversy will explain to the publisher Albin Michel jeunesse where, here, the term “negro” translates the spirit of pride and admiration for this African literature. This is the “negritude” loved by Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor or the Guyanese poet Léon-Gontran Damas.

About the African story, Léopold Sédar Senghor explained in the preface of New Tale by Amadou Koumba collected by the Senegalese poet Birago Diop (published in 1958), than Africa”every story is the graphic expression of a moral truthboth knowledge of the world and a lesson in social life”.

Alain Serge Dzotap, the author of Little stories about why was “born in 1978 in Bafoussam, Cameroon in a house without books. He read his first stories in elementary school. In 2007, his first story Little Hippo and his magic pen was published in the journal Tralalire and then as an album (Bayard, 2010). Among others, Le Roi Njoya, a brilliant inventor, Ed. Cauris 2015, The King and the First Comer, Pastel, 2017, The Magic Garden of Katibou and Katibi, Bayard, 2018, Adi de Boutanga (2019 Albin Michel Youth).

Awarded the Saint-Exupéry prize, the White Ravens, the Chevalier de l’ordre du merit au Cameroun medal, this poet-writer is fighting for children’s literature in Bafoussam : writing workshops, school activities, publishing house… He lives in Cameroon.”

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