Michael Meade, Men and the Water of Life
“Give people a fact or an idea and you enlighten their minds; tell them a story and you touch their souls.”
“Storytelling is designed to provoke emotional reactions in the listener, and these reactions awaken images that the listener must try to capture. The story comes to life through emotions and memories so that the two aspects of remembering and making continue in the listeners. This story prompts people to take a stand at some definitive place around the communal hearth and then add to the fire.”
A Treasury of African Folklore
“In his myths and legends he bridges back to the very dream morning of creation, while in his systems of divination, he projects himself into time not yet come; in his epics he asserts the courage and worth of the human species; in his tales he ponders on what is just or unjust, upon what is feeble or courageous, what is sensible or ridiculous, on what moves the spirit to grief or to exultation; in his proverbs and sayings he capsulates the learnings of centuries about the human character and about the intricate balance between people and the world around them. What we, standing on the periphery, see as lore and tradition is the accumulation of experience that has made mankind in Africa capable and confident in the endless effort not only to survive, but to survive with meaning.”
“It is no accident that in antiquity the butterfly used to symbolize the soul, or that ‘psyche’ originally meant ‘breath’ – both of these evoke a sense of alive movement. Nowhere is the movement or the sense of the life of the psyche seen more clearly than in story.“
“In mythic stories, we see that the characters do not resolve contradictions so much as they learn to tolerate them with grace and humor. In the Grimm fairy tale, the princess must keep the promise she made to the frog. Later, it is the act of refusing to keep her word that is crucial to the lesson. Differing situations at various points call for different responses. Rather than giving us clear solutions, pondering stories helps us find our own answers. Learning from stories is an interactive process.”
What we, standing on the periphery, see as lore and tradition is the accumulation of experience that has made mankind in Africa capable and confident in the endless effort not only to survive, but to survive with meaning.