Once Upon a Time in Ghana : Traditional Stories Retold in English

Once Upon a Time in Ghana : Traditional Stories Retold in English Book Cover Once Upon a Time in Ghana : Traditional Stories Retold in English
Anna Cottrell, Agbotadua Togbi Kumassah (translator) and Kwabena Poku (illus.)
Folklore, CABA Winner
Afram / African Books Collective (dist.)
89 pp.
ISBN 978 9964 70 153 6

"This collection of original and traditional stories really is by the people, for the people. Imagine trekking across field after field under an intense African sun following a group of total strangers and hoping against hope that your old fashioned recording machine will work. Imagine then the joy when it all happens even though you do not understand a word of what is being said. This book gives an insight into each unique storyteller. Two and a half awe-inspiring hours spent with 84 year old Mr Nutsugah where one story flowed seamlessly into another. A day recording the fishermen in Anyako, as goats jumped up to eat bananas on the table, wide-eyed children wandered in and out, cocks crowed, men sawed and hammered just a few feet away. In Have, a wonderful and unexpected reception was given as the storytellers moved towards us, singing a welcome. Equally unexpected was the gift of bananas," Publisher


Cottrell and Kumassah have assembled a collection of ten traditional Ewe stories originating from the Volta Region of eastern Ghana. The collection comprises ten didactic stories about situations concerning drought, deception, choice of children, husbands, etc. Most of the topics address ethical issues and respect. These Ewe stories begin and end with the standard formula and focus on important principles of the culture as taught to their children. The trickster spider Ayiyi sets up conflicts involving humans or animals. North American young readers will require additional information about the culture to fully appreciate the stories. There is no map or supplementary materials to help the reader become familiar with the culture. However, the authors provide an Internet link to readers for additional information on Ghanaian storytelling and the Ewe culture. Black and white sketches focus on the important points. The proceeds from the sale of this collection are returned to the storytellers. This book is a gift to non-Ewe people around the world as they too look inward and consider solutions to contemporary issues.

Reviewed by Patricia Kuntz, Madison, Wisconsin

Published in Africa Access Review (June 2, 2014)

Copyright 2014 Africa Access



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