by Rev. Khandi Konte-Bey (Paasewe)

If you have questions or comments, please

ęCopyright October 13, 30ADM (95 ACE)

«Registered w/Washitaw/PGRNA Nations

Paasewe i


Thesis: An investigation into Afrikan folklore and the tools of asili, utamawazo and utamaroho and their meanings. How these tools are applied and comprehended in Afrikan folklore and their significance and use are explored.

I. Key terms

II. Author's Note

III. Definitions of key terms

IV. Supportive information and analysis of folklore

V. Conclusion

VI. Bibliography

Paasewe ii

Author's Note

All spellings of amerikkka, united states (lower case), whites, i in intentional lower case, We in capital, overstand vs. understand, european in lower case are totally intentional as a point of emphasis and to symbolize my non-participation in the racial psycho-pathology which is in opposition to the Afrikan centered ethos of which this author subscribes.


Afrikan folklore is a part of the asili, utamawazo and utamaroho of Afrikan reality. The book, The Cow-tail Switch and Other West Afrikan Stories, stories collected by Harold Courlander and George Herzog, reveals how Afrikan people observe the world around us and reflect upon it. Within our folklore is the reflection of how We see the limits of man's powers and knowledge, the shortness of human life, experienced and witnessed life processes, and agonies felt of the body and mind. Such experiences cause Afrikan people to reflect upon life and the universe. Our discussion will define our tools for analysis: asili, utamawazo, and utamaroho and how they are fundamental in Afrikan folklore collections in The Cow-tail Switch and Other West Afrikan Stories.

The asili is the logos of a culture, within which its various aspects cohere. Asili is the developmental germ/seed of a culture, the cultural essence, the ideological core, the matrix of a cultural entity which must be identified in order to make sense of the collective creations of its members (Ani XXV). Utamawazo is the cultural structure of thought, how cognition is determined by a cultural Asili, way in which thought of Afrikans must be patterned if the Asili is to be fulfilled (Ani XXV). Utamaroho is the vital force of Afrikan culture, set in motion by the Asili. It is the thrust or energy source of a culture; that which gives it its emotional tone and motivates the collective Afrikan behavior. Both the Utamawazo and the Utamaroho are born out of the Asili and in turn, affirm it. They should not be thought of as distinct from the Asili but as its manifestations (Ani XXV).

Courlander and Herzog attempt to do an all too brief overview in their introduction, Afrika is Many Things. In this section of the book they discuss the geographical and climate differences of the Afrikan continent, different languages, and livelihood. Also commented upon is the coming of the european and colonization with its affects upon the folklore. Discussed also are the stories of various Afrikans in the Diaspora and the various contents of stories of Afrika. Basically, the book contains stories from the West coast of Afrika. What Courlander and Herzog fail to do in their introduction is to define the importance of the Afrikan stories' asili and its components and thus the stories importance to the Afrikan development.

Afrikan stories are a verbal iconography of Afrikan spirit and intellect. The stories are the study and analysis in artist representation of the Asili. For example, the iconography which gives direction is reflected in various stories. The iconography is developed in Talk, Guinea Fowl and Rabbit Get Justice, The Singing Tortoise, and Hungry Spider and the Turtle where the artistic picture drawn by the teller demands the listener/reader to use their imagination which is where the seed/germ of the Asili is realized as a respect for all creation.

The source or initiating principle of development of Afrikan culture is reflected in the stories (giving direction). The stories are a reflection of the cultural asili in that they both are determined by the collective, fundamental nature of Afrikans. Asili, then, will enable us to overstand and explain the behavior, thought and creations of Afrikans in terms of the origin and logic of our culture (Ani 13). Such is the case with our stories.

The behavior, for example, of The One You Don't See Coming is an attempt on the part of Afrikan people to explain the part of the Asili that explains and questions the nature of sleep. The Utamawazo is reflected in this story because it addresses the way in which cognition is determined by the cultural Asili. Sleep is an occurrence that all peoples seek to overstand. The story informs the listener/reader to accept sleeps inevitability as a fact of life that can not be destroyed, changed or denied.

The Utamaroho (emotional tones, motives, collective behavior born out of the Asili) of Afrikans is reflected in the trickster stories included in the book. Anansi and Nothing Go Hunting For Wives, Anansi's Fishing Expedition are examples of stories which reflect the motives tone of the Utarmaroho force of the Asili. Anansi's motives are always in question, being that he looks for something for nothing. Since Anansi usually fails at getting something for nothing, the stories teach that one's motives should be honorable and thus reflect the Utamaroho. The collective behavior of Afrikans seek to reflect the Utamaroho in rising above the something-for-nothing motives.

The ethos of Afrikan people is the tone, character and quality of our lives, our moral and aesthetic style and mode (Ani 15). Such ethos is identified in the Cow-tail Switch and Time and Ansinge Karamba, the Glutton. The character of the baby son in Cow-tail Switch shows the honor and love the son has for his father in his selfless thought. Ansinge Karamba, the Glutton respects the maternal principle. Giving honor to the Afrikan woman where the wife shows genius in helping her husband stay out of trouble with his gluttony. She saves him from being punished.

The Cow-tail Switch and Other West Afrikan Stories is a collection of the reflection of the Afrikan Asili and its components the Utamawazo and the Utamaroho. The ideological core of the Afrikan cultural entity is reflected again and again in our stories. They are the collection creations of Afrikan people. That is the definition of the Asili. Our thoughts are structured within the stories. Our stories define how our cultural thought is structured which is the Utamawazo. The stories set an emotional tone, discuss motives and define collective behavior which is the Utamaroho. The Afrikan phenomenal experience is the folklore.

Works Cited

Ani, Marimba. Yurugu An Afrikan-Centered Critique of european Cultural Thought and Behavior. Trenton: Afrika World Press, 1994.


Back to the Khandi Pages