Reclaiming the Dream

Our “Cinderella” and Our Iliad

Another section of Patrick’s Place is labeled Folktales. It presents a small sample of Liberian folktales.

The primary goal is to increase interest in Liberia’s storehouse of oral literature which, although undeniably rich, is often overlooked by students of African oral traditions. Most of the tales in this collection were taken from “Legends of Liberia,” collected in the 1950s.

A second purpose is to draw attention to the genres and other patterns that run through these stories. These patterns, which transcend linguistic and even national boundaries, have long been obscured by a tradition among Liberianists that emphasizes ethnic differences over commonalities.

Liberia’s recent war has left many Liberians with an inferiority complex tied to a reliance on foreign relief. One way for Liberians to overcome that mindset is by building upon our folk tales and other oral traditions.

These need to be incorporated into curriculum. Like The Iliad and “Cinderella” in Western countries, our folk arts could well be the basis for short stories and movies.