The Verba Africana website is a fantastic website that publishes recordings, transcriptions, and analysis of African oral literature.

One of the stories published on the site is called Jealous Twins; it is an Ewe tale.

One of the interesting things about the story is that it follows a formula. The storyteller begins by framing the story as something not to be taken seriously:

ye ŋutinya yia gblɔ ge
I am going to tell this story
ne ɖeviwo abe fefe fefe ene
to children as a play

The storyteller then does a call and response with the audience: she says "Listen to a story" and the audience responds with "Let the story come."

Then, the characters are introduced with "The story moves and lands on a man and the wife," and finally the narrative begins.

Some of the phrases used to frame this story (e.g. "the story moves and lands on [characters]") are used in another Ewe tale recorded on the site: Headless Crabs.

Why are these stories framed in this particular way? What effect does this framing have on the story? Why is this framing a convention of Ewe oral literature?



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