Une etude thematique sur le personnage de l'enfant dans quelques contes africains francophones
Were, Otaba Vincent
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The Study is based on themes and values in some African folktales of French expression in which the child is the main character. It also looks at the depiction of boy and girl characters in folktales. The data is collected from sixteen African francophone folktales from different African francophone countries. The rarity of folktales about children limited our study to sixteen. In our study, we pointed out major themes in folktales with a view to bringing out values that are imparted to the modern society. By cutting across gender boundaries, we looked at how boy and girl characters are depicted in folktales. The study is justifiable in that there seems to be a gap in the study of children's literature of French expression. While a lot seems to have been done on folktales of English expression, very little attention has been given to folktales about the child of French expression. Most analyses on folktales have been done in a general manner without specific reference to the child character. We adopted two approaches, the psychoanalytic and the gender ones. The former examines the psychic and the deeper meaning of a literary work. In psychoanalysis, we used the Oedipus complex, which is the identification or the first manifestation of affective attachment to the parent of the opposite sex. The Oedipus complex was helpful in analyzing the child character's behaviour and the reasons for such behaviour in relation to other beings and the resultant feelings. However, psychoanalysis does not explain the male-female relationships in the society at large. Thus we also used the gender approach which examines gender relations in the Society. It is noteworthy that gender determines values and attitudes in the society. We sampled sixteen folktales as our point of departure. Although this is not a comparative study, these folktales were compared with other folktales or similar version. Our study was a library research in which we used the method of textual analysis.This method was important in understanding the deeper meaning of content and the intention of the author vis-a-vis the readers. The study consists of five chapters; the first being on the context of the study; the second and the third, the discussion of themes and values respectively.The discussed themes indicated the values that are imparted/to the modern society. We noted that although the traditional society is changing towards modernism, folktales in the written form still transmit desired values. In chapter four, we discussed the depiction of boy and girl characters in folktales. Chapter five is the general conclusion In conclusion, we noted that folktales are not only for entertainment but also clarify a people's perception of the world and the social organization of the African traditional society. That is, folktales impart virtues which are necessary for moral development in both traditional and modern societies. It was noted that African traditional society confined girls and restricted them from doing certain duties. Boys characters were depicted as being more intelligent and braver than girl characters. In cases where girls proved their bravery and intelligence, they ended up being barred and reprimanded. The study showed us the possibility of applying the psychoanalytic and gender approaches in analyzing folktales. We suggested that folktales should not be gender biased. Both boy and girl characters should be seen as capable of doing the same duties. The approaches that we used in our study were limiting in the sense that they are foreign to the social set lip of the traditional African society. This is because they are of European origin. However, we can not say that we have exhausted the study on folktales about the child. One may also analyze folktales linguistically, typologically, ethnographically or ethnologically, among others.