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Book chapter Book chapter Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Tales of death and regeneration in West Africa
Author:Beek, Walter E.A. vanISNI
Book title:New perspectives on myth: proceedings of the Second Annual Conference of the International Association for Comparative Mythology, Ravenstein (The Netherlands), 19-21 August, 2008
Geographic terms:Cameroon
Abstract:Myths in African traditional religions often have an ambivalent relation both to rituals and to conceptions of the 'other world'. On the one hand, the principal rituals seem to bear little relation to the main body of myth, on the other hand, some or many of the main supernatural agents do not feature in myths at all. This relative cultural autonomy of myths is reflected in the issues myths address, among which etiology seems to be of a lesser concern. This chapter illustrates this by analysing two examples of African myths, both dealing with life and death - one from the Dogon of Mali, the other from the Kapsiki of West Cameroon and northeastern Nigeria. In both cases, it concerns hero tales, although the heroes are not the standard 'Campbellian' kind: they do not leave the village and do no deeds elsewhere. Significant in both myths is the absence of any explanation of the origin of death (or life). They indicate that we cannot escape our fate, but have to live with it. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]