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African Folk Tale Library (AFTL): Home

A Collection of resources on and for promoting African Folktales



     The goal of the African Folk Tale Library is to collect folk tales from both historical sources and contemporary informants in the original language with English translations.  Historical sources refer to collections of folk tales that were recorded in print in the 1800s and early 1900s and are now out of copyright.

     Contemporary sources denote folktales that are related by living people.  In addition to the original language text and English translation that represent historical sources we would like to include audio recordings of the spoken traditions so that students can listen to the spoken language and so that the dynamic aspects of intonation, singing and other speech patterns can be observed.  We hope one day to include video recordings of informants so that gesticulation and other aspects of body language can be incorporated into the folk tale transmission.

    The first phase of the project comprises of compiling a collection of approximately 300 texts to develop the method and survey technical challenge of assembling the digital library.

In the second phase  the library will be promoted to experts in other fields to obtain their input into ways that it could serve the interests of their fields and to expand the collection.


     The definition of folk tale various from one authority to another, but is primarily characterized by anonymity of authorship, and improvisation in delivery.  A Folk tale is a type of oral literature that is passed from one person to another by word of mouth.  Falk tales have many different functions including:  serving as educational tools, passing on knowledge essential for survival, emphasizing certain values ands the social order of the culture, explaining how the world and everything in it came into being, reflecting values, attitudes and other beliefs and providing entertainment.

!kӑ!kárushé Hai !kӑ!kárushé !kӑ!kárushe o)˞wí mi O)˞wí me ku̥e tshì ׀kḁḿ ti׀ gí Má ti o)˞wí mi

Young Moon Hail, young moon Young moon speak to me Tell me of something When the sun rises You must speak to me

!Kung “Prayer to the Moon”

From Bleek Specimens of Bushman Folklore

There are many different types of folk tales from short stories like the "Prayer to the Moon" above to long epic poems like the Sundiata.  fairy tales that feature supernatural beings, ghost stories that depict visitations from the departed,m legends that commemorate an important event in history of a memorable person, and long epics that tell the trials and victories of heroes are all examples of folk tales.


We would like to collaborate with people from all parts of Africa who have an appreciation for preserving old customs, possess knowledge of traditional literature and can:

  • Make an audio recording of a folk tale in the original language,
  • Make a transcription in the original language (i.e. a written version of the spoken recording),
  • Make a written translation in English.


For more information please contact:

Bryan Fuller
Esther Fatuyi


133-A Richardson Library

Morgan State University
1700 E Cold Spring Ln
Baltimore, MD 21251

Reference and Government Documents Librarian

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Bryan Fuller
Earl S. Richardson Library
Room 127-A
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