n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Shona folktales as children's literature : the case of A.C. Hodza's (1980)

Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1727-7140



Some scholars of the genre of the folktale have argued that since time immemorial, folktales have been children's literature created by adults for children's pleasure. The main attraction in so describing African folktale as children's literature was that this form afforded children entertainment as they listened to the stories narrated mostly by the adults, and some sometimes by the children, to other children. Other scholars agreed that folktale are stories of what can happen, but did not actually happen, also worked as a conduit for socialising African children into the cultural values of their society, which values were invariably created by the older generation. Both views are to some extent correct. However, in reducing the impact of folktales on children to entertainment and social conformity, a myth was also promoted that fails to appreciate that children listening to stories can decode certain meanings from the folktales. The aim of this article is to highlight the significance of folktales as sources of aesthetic pleasure for children and also as imaginative sources that aid socialisation of children to the community's mores. But the article complicates this instrumentalist approach of the role of folktales, whose meanings go beyond descriptions of them as an artistic force-field that merely secure the purchase of domesticating children for adult interests. Children are not passive listeners of stories, and as such can construct alternative worlds that provide useful critiques to society through its folktales.

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