A Love Story

One must always marry a man whose origins are known.

My story flies and lands on a very pretty girl. She was a vendor in the big village market.

In this village there was a formidable hunter. This hunter fell in love with this young girl. But she did not want his love.

In those days, the wild animals of the forest were transformed into human beings and came to the market. They came out to sell or to store provisions there. These animals were, for example, tigers, hyenas, panthers or lions.

One day, one of these human-looking animals courted the girl. Immediately, she accepted and followed it home.

Recall that, to take the human form, the animals borrowed the limbs of the body as well as the head.

While he was going down to his home with the girl, he put his feet, his arms and his head back on their owners. Now he was rolling on the ground next to the girl.

They reached the bush. The young girl found herself in the midst of the great animals, which sometimes took on a human form, sometimes an animal form. So, she was afraid. However, she had no choice but to stay.

She cooked them. These animals sought ways and means to find fault and devour it. One day, they gave him cereals for food. They told her that to serve everyone she should call him by name. But they knew she did not know them.

Woutoutou, a bird of this forest, understood the shenanigans of these animals. Woutoutou whispered the names to the girl. She called the names without problem when serving food.

They could not therefore charge him to overflow that day.

The hunter of the village of the young queen went hunting and found himself in the forest where the young girl was.

He made a promise to her to return to the village.

The hunter returned to the village. He made a box in human form on the measurements of the girl. He returned to the forest to put the young girl there when all the animals had come out of the forest.

On the way back the hunter with the crate on his head crossed a few animals including the one who had brought him into the forest. The animal, seeing the hunter, sang this song:

(Goun song)

What means “Isn’t that Amboja?”

The hunter replied

(2nd song in Goun)

Which means “It’s like her but it’s not her.”

So they went over and the hunter took the girl back to her parents.

The girl’s parents were so happy to see their child again. They were also proud of the hunter’s heroism. So they gave him their daughter’s hand in marriage.

That is why we do not marry a man overnight.

Hear the story from maman rosine:

More about the author

Mrs. Affovoh Angele was born in Porto Novo, Benin. She had four brothers and eight sisters. She is the mother of nine children and gave birth to twins three times. She lives with her three daughters, two of daughters-in-law and five of her grandchildren. Mrs. Affovoh takes care of her grandchildren every day. She gets her income from the condiments (tomatoes, onions, hot peppers) she sells in her home. She is an Evangelical Christian who loves to sing. Her favorite dish to eat is palm nut sauce.

 

1- Quel âge aviez-vous lorsque vous aviez vos enfants?

J’ai eu mon premier enfant à 20 ans.

I had my first child when I was 20.

2- Que voulez-vous le plus pour vos enfants?

Pour Rosine qui est ma benjamine, je veux qu’elle aille le plus loin possible à l’école. Je veux qu’elle devienne une personnalité.

Mes autres enfants n’ont pas pu faire des études à cause des moyens financiers. Mes filles font du commerce. Je souhaite que leur commerce prospère. Je souhaite que mes fils ferrailleur et peintre puissent avoir beaucoup de contrats.

For my youngest, Rosine, I wish for her to go as far as possible in school. I want her to develop her own personality.

My other kids couldn’t go to school because I couldn’t afford it. My daughters have small businesses, and I hope that their businesses are profitable. I hope that my son, who paints houses, can have a lot of contracts and expand his business.

3- Avez-vous toujours voulu une famille?

Oui ! J’ai toujours voulu avoir une grande famille. Dieu m’en a fait grâce.

Yes! I always wanted a large family. God has smiled upon me.

4- Vos enfants vous aiment-ils ou sont-ils différents? De quelle manière?

Mes enfants m’aiment beaucoup. Cela se voit dans la manière dont ils viennent à moi.

My children love me very much. It’s evident in the way that they always come to me.

5- Qu’est-ce qui vous rend heureux?

Ce qui me rend heureux est que je ne suis jamais seule. Je suis toujours entourée de mes enfants.

The thing that makes me happy is that I am never alone. I’m always surrounded by my children.

6- De quoi êtes-vous le plus fier?

Je suis fière parceque je ne vis au dépend de personne

I’m proud because I don’t depend on anyone to live.

7- Parlez-nous de votre ménage. Qui en fait partie?

Mon mari est polygame. Moi je suis la deuxième épouse. Il m’a épousé parceque la première tardait à tombé enceinte. Apres que j’ai eu mes enfants, j’ai quitté le domicile de mon mari pour vivre seule. Non pas parceque j’ai divorcé mais à cause des scènes de jalousie de la première épouse de mon mari. Il vient nous rendre visite de temps à autre.

Je vis avec 3 de mes filles, 2 belles filles et 5 petits fils. Mes autres enfants viennent passer parfois quelques  jours avec nous

My husband is polygamous, I’m his second wife. He married me because his first wife had a hard time getting pregnant. After I had my kids, I left the house that we had shared and went to live alone. Not because I wanted a divorce, but because his first wife would create a scene because of her jealousy. My husband comes to see us here from time to time. I live with 3 of my daughters, 2 of my daughters-in-law, and 5 grandkids. My other kids come to visit and stay with us from time to time.

8- Parlez-nous de votre communauté. Est-il bien serré? Est-il favorable? Est-il distant ou urbain? Est-ce petit ou grand?

Ici c’est un bidonville. Nous construisons nous même les maisons. Nous ne payons pas de loyer. C’est comme un petit quartier.

This is a (slum, shantytown, “bidonville” is the word in French). We’ve constructed our own houses, we don’t pay anyone to rent. It’s like a small neighborhood.

9- Quel est votre souvenir d’enfance préféré?

Je me souviens des moments où je jouais aux jeux de claquette, marelle et de balançoire.

I remember times when I would play games like “claquette” (I don’t know this game, Judith is going to have the kids play it next weekend and she’ll take a video), hopscotch, and go on the swings.

10- À quoi ressemble votre journée moyenne?

Je m’occupe au quotidien de mes petits enfants. je vends des condiments (tomates, piments, oignons ail) je vais des fois à l’église.

I take care of my grandkids, I sell foodstuffs like tomatoes, hot peppers, onions, garlic, and I go to church some of the days.

11- Pourquoi avez-vous choisi cette histoire à raconter?

J’ai choisi ces histoires parceque ce  sont des histoires dont je me souviens entièrement. Je me souviens encore des détails de ces histoires.

I chose these stories because they are one’s that I totally remember. I can remember all of the details in these stories.

12- Quel rôle joue le vodun dans votre vie? Votre communauté?

Le vodun est l’œuvre de nos ancêtres. Il est conçu pour faire du bien. Mais certaines personnes malveillantes l’utilisent pour faire du mal aux autres. C’est pour cela que j’ai préféré devenir chrétienne.

Vodun is the work of our ancestors. It is designed to do good. But some malicious people use it to harm others. And that’s why I preferred to become a Christian.

MORE ABOUT THE Process:

The process of producing these stories was inherently cross-cultural and multi-lingual. The stories were orally spoken by our original storytellers in their indigenous languages. They were recorded in the original language then translated into French and then into English for the storybook producers on our side. The books that we created in English then went back through the same linguistic steps, so that ultimately we had English, French, and indigenous language versions of our stories. Two women guided us through the process and provided the bridge between the two communities working together: Sandrine and Judith.

 

Sandrine was really in charge of the translating process. Not only did she translate everything into French, but she also did all the transcribing of the stories for us by hand. Sandrine is also responsible for most of the questions that we have been asking throughout the whole process in order to better know our storytellers and the cultural context for the tales they have shared.

Judith really helped us out by taking photos and video to give us a better contextual insight into Benin’s culture and way of life. She also took the time to interview and take videos of our authors to help introduce them to us.

Both Judith and Sandrine are anthropologists. Judith received her Bachelor’s and Sandrine received her Bachelor’s and Master’s at the University of Abomey-Calavi. Although they are checking in with the authors and their children to help us with our stories, they are also responsible for really making sure that the children are learning and doing well in their homes through the Three Sisters Program.

We asked them what they hoped to accomplish through this process:

Sandrine: I hope to make the cultural values of Africa more widely known by participating in this project. These fairy tales expose everything from ways of dressing (of kings, queens, princesses, and leaders), to work and landscape. The themes and morals in our fairy tales reflect the moral foundation of African Society and often speak to values of obedience, kindness, love, respect for elders, bravery, family solidarity, etc.

From Judith:

I am hopeful that the storytellers will be very proud to have their stories on national and international platforms. They can know that even when they leave the world, their stories will remain imprinted in the memory of each reader. I hope also that these stories will succeed in winning the hearts of millions of readers across the entire world, and that it will inspire a demand for more stories. I would love for us to find and share each tale in libraries across the world. Finally, I hope that our work here will not be lost or forgotten.

Matt, LaMia, Quyen, and Margaret

 

Cultural Context

 

Wedding Ceremonies

Folktales are stories passed down through traditions and word of mouth from generation to generation. Storytelling in African folktales has been a vital part of traditional African cultures for thousands of years. One common characteristic of the folktales in Africa is the use of nature. African folktales project stories that reflect the culture where animals live; monkey elephants, giraffe etc. Wisdom teachings is another common characteristic. African folktales are stories that give greater insight to children, men, and women in the midst of preserving their culture and honoring their identity.

Read more here: http://africanweddingtraditions.com/african-folktales.html

The following two video shows a traditional marriage between Gloria and Gueric. Gloria and Gueric wedding was taken place in Republique Du Benin , and similar to western weddings Gloria and Gueric celebrates with music, food, and big families. The culture reflects in their clothing as Gloria and Gueric wears festive patterns of blue, white, yellow, orange and red. In fact Gloria changes in four different outfits during the ceremony. Both families are overwhelmed in joy with the union of Gloria and Gueric.

In the culture of Benin, wedding ceremonies are held in great significance. Tribes are very great in numbers which means practices in wedding ceremonies vary. In certain cultures and tribes such as the Edo people girls are already engaged to boys by their families at birth. As the girl and boy matures his family will begin to send gifts to girls family. Leading into the ceremonies itself traditional gifts are always given to the women’s family which includes PALM WINE, KOLA NUTS, and COCONUTS. Similar to our western culture The Edo people hold high value into their children’s role in marriage.

Vodun

Vodun (or voodoo, as it is commonly known outside of Benin) was declared an religion in 1996 from the roots of Africa. For years Vodun has been seen as a “dark, inhumanly” practice. Kevin Alexander, a native from Virginia, traveled to West Africa to explore and understand the culture of Vodun firsthand. The people of Benin shared their cultural values by opening their world of positivism, humility and strong sense of spirit and thereby challenging the misconceptions of voodoo around the world.

Read more here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/in-benin-up-close-with-a-serpent-deity-a-temple-of-pythons-and-vodun-priests/2017/01/26/21138d50-de63-11e6-ad42-f3375f271c9c_story.html?utm_term=.093f5251b794

Where Are We?

(info about Benin and its history, language, demographics, etc.)

(info about PK10 and Cotonou)