In the prologue to The Doll's House (The Sandman #9 "Tales in the Sand"), Gaiman tells the story of Queen Nada. Neil Gaiman is not African, nor (as far as I could tell) were any of the people who worked with him. Therefore, I wonder if the story of Queen Nada has a parallel in traditional African stories. If not that particular story, I'd still like to know whether the form of the story (outlined below) is a traditional one. (TL;DR section below)
The tale is told only once to each man, as part of a manhood ritual:
The story-teller and the boy travel together into the desert, and the story-teller commands the boy to find something.
Old man: Now you must go and find something, and bring it back to me. And when you have brought it back to me I will tell you the tale. While you are looking, I will make the fire.
Young man: But Grandfather...what must I find?
Old man: You will know when you find it.
Another form of the tale is told by women, in a language that they keep from the men.
Narration box: There is another version of the tale. That is the tale the women tell each other, in their private language men-children are not taught, and the old men are too wise to learn. And in that version of the tale perhaps things happened differently. But then, that is a women's tale, and it is never told to men.
Wikipedia does a good job of summarizing the tale:
[...] the tragic love between Dream and Queen Nada. Fearing the consequences of loving an immortal, Nada spurns Dream. In anger, Dream sends Nada to Hell, where she remains to the present day.
My Google searches for "Queen Nada" only returned pages dedicated to the comic book character. I did manage to find a page criticizing the gendered storytelling and the depiction of Africa by non-Africans (even though that author admits that they story told is told well even through these unlikeable means). That page does not contain any information about the specific tale, or its form.
So, my questions are:
- Is the story of Queen Nada one that is told in an African oral tradition?
- If yes, is there another, known version of the tale that was specific to women?
- If not, is the form of storytelling portrayed in "Tales in the Sand" loyal to traditional forms of storytelling in Africa?