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A Dictionary of African Mythology: The Mythmaker as Storyteller

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195124569
ISBN-10: 0195124561
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There's no Zeus with his thunderbolt or Thor with his hammer; but in Harold Scheub's A Dictionary of African Mythology, there is Kibuka, who shoots arrows from clouds, and Tanit, mother of the universe, with her spear. From over 10 years of living in Africa, Harold Scheub has combed oral and recorded traditions to deliver a treasury of African mythology. Scheub focuses on the art of the storyteller, presenting stories that animate the peoples that tell them. You'll find the full range of archetypal figures here and see how mythic scenarios can vary from region to region. There are the rain-stones from God; the crocodile women; and Wuni, the god who destined men to always have to chase women. Scheub ties the stories together by locating common themes and provides an immense bibliography, along with cross-referencing by culture and country. Africa is not often on our mythology radar, but Scheub demonstrates that the continent's traditions are every bit as colorful and transformative as the myths of other world cultures. --Brian Bruya

From Library Journal

African myths are stories--most of them ancient--passed along from generation to generation by oral narrative. They are inexorably linked to religious traditions, tribal customs, and enduring proverbs couched in the continuum of belief systems. Collectively, the 400 stories presented here--revamped by Scheub, who has devoted his professional career to researching and teaching in Africa and has published numerous monographs, e.g., the celebrated The Tongue Is Fire--reveal the unique sweep and diversity of African mythology. Selections from every country, arranged alphabetically by nation, survey the entire continent, including North Africa and Sub-Saharan cultures. Based on careful research, this book includes a geographic index and a valuable guide to sources (French, German, English, etc.). Engaging yet scholarly in presentation, this work is vital to upper-level and professional studies and should be considered for all collections of African research.
-Richard K. Burns, MSLS, Hatboro, PA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 24, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195124561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195124569
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,729,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Zekeriyah VINE VOICE on September 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Most people today are familar with the mythologies of Greece, Rome, Egypt and possibly the Norse, but how many people can name people or places from sub-Saharan African mythology? Despite the continuation of many indigenous religions in Africa, to say nothing of the proliferation of African religions in the New World (such as Voudon, Santeria and Candomble), few people know much about the gods, heros and legends of Africa.

Set up as a dictionary, with entries in alphabetical order, this book is starts to change some of that. After a short introduction that explains the background of African myths and the storytelling traditions, this book goes on to give hundreds of different African myths. Each entry explains the myth and gives a story, along with the culture group and what country or country the story comes from. Included are countless important stories from across the continent, taken from everyone from the Zulu of South Africa to the Berbers of Morocco. Tunisian stories of the Arab hero Abu Zayd are included, alongside the Khoi story of how Heitsi-Ebib parted the waters and how the Egyptian sun god Ra created the world. Yoruba stories about Shango, the Orisha of thunder and lightning, stand beside tales of the epic Swahili culture hero Liongo. There are entries about Abuk, the first woman to the Dinka of Sudan who caused the fall of man, and entries about the Mpaca forest spirit of the Nyanga from the Congo and the Hausa folklore about the bull who supports the world on his horns.

Hundreds of different stories from across Africa are included, mostly focusing on gods, spirits and culture heros.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazingly thorough. Surprised there aren't more myths about lions.
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Format: Paperback
There are not many people who know a lot about African countries today, and there are far less who are aware of the immense mythology that exists on this ancient continent. A Dictionary of African Mythology changes this. In paperback form and being not that long, this edition serves as a handy reference tool, with a thorough index, for anyone writing papers on this subject. But it also serves as a most interesting book about a giant continent whose mythology is not really known about. In an easy-to-read dictionary form, you can either start at the beginning, or flip to a random page. Whatever you choose to do, it will ultimately open new worlds to, and tales of countries you were never even sure existed before.

Originally published on November 25th, 2002.

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