Aesop: Tales of Aethiop the African, Volume I.
. Flying Lion Press: Sea Island Information Group . Beltsville, MD ,
PZ8.2.K67 Ae 1989 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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A curious book that badly needs an editor. Punctuation, grammar, and spelling mistakes abound. Even pagination is a mystery: the two-page introduction that starts on ii is followed by a preface listed as on iii. The introduction claims that Aethiop was a student of the African mystery schools and mentions the report that every ancient Greek author either quoted or mentioned Aethiop in their writings. There are twenty-nine fables here, listed--not in the order of their appearance--with their lessons on iv. Ten illustrations--not in order--are listed on i. Almost all of the fables have the byline As told by or Adapted by Jamal Koram the Storyman. At the end of the glossary and pronunciation guide (47) we learn that African-Americans were never, and shall never be slaves. A slave is defined as someone who has lost control of his or her ability to be themselves, or to be free (52). The fables frequently shift traditional characters to African characters. Some fables are developed in distinctively different ways. Thus the resident moles poison the intruding, squatting porcupine (1). The wolf eats the boy in the middle of his last shout (5). The Lion and the Water Buffaloes adds to the usual unity moral this one: Respect our mothers (13). Many of the illustrations are on the backs of the pages they are meant to illustrate. The horse and the deer becomes The Zebra and the Ikiti (17). Koram moralizes in unusual fashion on his version of TH, in which a terrapin takes the place of the tortoise: Slow and steady wins the race, if you are racing against arrogance and stupidity. Otherwise, quick, fast, and steady wins the race against all comers. There is a fine moral for FC, which includes a civet here, not a fox: Know yourself and love yourself, and you will always be able to separate the message from the messenger (22). DLS has both a good promythium and a good moral: If you don't know who you are, you will try to be some of everybody.... Sometimes it is better to be yourself and to keep your mouth shut (31). Is there a strange transformation in the last story? I think that usually a donkey carries a priest who carries the statue. Here an Ethiopian captive is able to join in on the project (46).