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what to wear when…in a kenyan fairy tale.

examples: kuimba mnyama (the singing monster), elavonga wakuu na tembo (chief elavonga and the elephant), ndugu wawili ambao walikuwa marafiki (two brothers who were friends)

stories are told as part of the shared initiation experience. as well as being entertaining, they instruct and provide commentary on both the desirable and undesirable aspects of human behavior. for example, the kikuyu tell the tale of an ogre who assumed the appearance of a handsome fellow. ogres are wild characters who eat anything and everything and are understood to be able to change themselves into anything they choose.

tales of animals are also popular. stories of elephants, for example, typically emphasize the destruction that results from greed. those of leopards and other spotted cats, whose skins are often worn as capes by traditional leaders and elders, emphasize the role of authority and leadership. and tales of dogs and monkeys are metaphors for the catastrophes that can result from lust and sexual promiscuity.

post 761 of an infinity-part series


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