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Zanzibar Tales

Book Overview: 

If you have read any accounts of adventure in Africa, you will know that travelers never mention animals of any kind that are gifted with the faculty of speech, or gazelles that are overseers for native princes, or hares that eat flesh. No, indeed; only the native-born know of these; and, judging by the immense and rapid strides civilization is making in those parts, it will not be long before such wonderful specimens of zoölogy will be as extinct as the ichthyosaurus, dinornis, and other poor creatures who never dreamed of the awful names that would be applied to them when they were too long dead to show their resentment. As to the truth of these tales, I can only say that they were told to me, in Zanzibar, by natives whose ancestors told them to them, who had received them from their ancestors, and so back; so that the praise for their accuracy, or the blame for their falsity, lies with the first ancestor who set them going. (Summary by Author)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .t peculiarity is there about a washerman’s donkey?”

“It is a creature that has neither heart nor ears.”

The shark, his curiosity overcoming his haste, thereupon begged to be told the story of the washerman’s donkey, which the monkey related as follows:

“A washerman owned a donkey, of which he was very fond. One day, however, it ran away, and took up its abode in the forest, where it led a lazy life, and consequently grew very fat.

“At length Soongoo′ra, the hare, by chance passed that way, and saw Poon′da, the donkey.

“Now, the hare is the most cunning of all beasts—if you look at his mouth you will see that he is always talking to himself about everything.

“So when Soongoora saw Poonda he said to himself, ‘My, this donkey is fat!’ Then he went and told Sim′ba, the lion. [23]

“Miss Poonda, I am sent to ask. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Kind of comical. They were fun to listen to. And give insight into the thinking of a long time ago.

Not sure the translation was really faithful, or I'm simply missing many cultural cues to understand some of the stories. Interesting reading nevertheless.

It was Ok. It was well translated. The stories were interesting. They give you something to think about.