Friday, June 27, 2008

Hip Hop Tale

This past Tuesday I made it back to Brother Blue's weekly open mic and offered up a stripped down, bare bones telling of a naughty bunny.  In Kenya, he is known as Sungura, and thanks to the African diaspora, he evolved into Bre'r Rabbit.  He is surely one of the forefathers of Bugs Bunny, and probably a cousin of Zomo, another wicked rabbit trickster.Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa (Thank you

I told the story of Sungura and the well, in which the lazy rabbit refuses to help his fellow animals dig a well during a drought; as punishment the animals take turns guarding the well to prevent him from drinking from it.  Naturally, our wily friend tricks them and drinks his fill, only to be tricked in the end by his own impatience and avarice.

What I love about this tale is how its African-American tellers added West African and North American elements to this East African tale, to create a wholly syncretic and marvelously clever new variant of this terrific story which preserves the original luster and lessons of its earlier tellings, while remaining authentically a part of the African-American oral tradition.

That's some clever bunny.

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