Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …


Zeitschrift für Erzählforschung / Journal of Folktale Studies / Revue d’Etudes sur le Conte Populaire

Ed. by Bönisch-Brednich, Brigitte / Stiefbold, Simone / Zimmermann, Harm-Peer

4 Issues per year

CiteScore 2017: 0.04

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.100
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.303

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 59, Issue 3-4


“My Story Bursts Forth…”: Re-visioning Female Subjecthood in Gendered Folktales in Northern Ghana

Helen Yitah
Published Online: 2018-11-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/fabula-2018-0104


Der Aufsatz untersucht die Praxis gegenwärtigen Wiedererzählens von ghanaischen (Kasem) Volkserzählungen, die sich kritisch mit sozialen Rollen- und kulturellen Wertvorstellungen in den traditionellen Versionen auseinandersetzen. In den überlieferten Versionen werden übersinnliche Mächte angerufen, um Frauen zu bestrafen, die zu selbstständig handeln; damit wird weibliche Identität streng reguliert und begrenzt. In den neuen Versionen wenden die weiblichen Protagonistinnen das Prinzip des nantandia an, ein lokaler Kasem-Begriff, der Intelligenz, Initiative und Mut beinhaltet, und damit gleichzeitig den Einfluss der übersinnlichen Mächte beschneidet und die weibliche Individualität und Handlungsfähigkeit bestärkt.


This paper examines contemporary retellings of Ghanaian (Kasem) folktales that engage critically with the social roles and cultural values in the traditional corpus. While in traditional folktales supernatural forces are unleashed to punish females who pursue their own strivings, thus regulating gender identity, in the retold tales female protagonists deploy nantandia, a local Kasem term which encompasses intelligence, initiative and courage, to thwart the power of the supernatural and assert their own subjecthood.


  • Aidoo, Ama Ata: After the Ceremonies: New and Collected Poems. ed. Helen Yitah. Lincoln, N.E. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Bauman, Richard/Briggs, Charles L.: Poetics and Performance as Critical Perspectives on Language and Social Life. In: Annual Review of Anthropology 19 (1990) 59–88.Google Scholar

  • Bettelheim, Bruno: The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. New York 1977.Google Scholar

  • Bourke, Angela: Reading a Woman’s Death: Colonial Text and Oral Tradition in Nineteenth-Century Ireland. In: Feminist Studies 21,3 (1995) 553–586.Google Scholar

  • Calvino, Italo: Italian Folktales. Trans. George Martin. New York 1980.Google Scholar

  • Dinslage, Sabine: Erotic Folktales of the Bulsa in Northern Ghana. In: Ninth Congress of the International Society for Folk-Narrative Research (1995) 238–244.Google Scholar

  • Fretz, Rachel I.: Through Ambiguous Tales: Women’s Voices in Chokwe Storytelling. In: Oral Tradition 9,1 (1994) 230–50.Google Scholar

  • Friedman, Susan Stanford: Lyric Subversion of Narrative in Women’s Writing: Virginia Woolf and the Tyranny of Plot. In: Reading Narrative: Form, Ethics, Ideology. ed. James Phelan. Columbus, OH 1989, 162–185.Google Scholar

  • Goody, Jack: Animals, Men and Gods in Northern Ghana. In: The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 16,3 (1992/1993) 46–60.Google Scholar

  • Grimm, Wilhelm: Dear Mili. Trans. Ralph Manheim. New York 1988.Google Scholar

  • Houseman, Michael: Towards a Complex Model of Parenthood: Two African Tales. In: American Ethnologist 15,4 (1988) 658–677.Google Scholar

  • Jackson, Michael: Allegories of the Wilderness: Ethics and Ambiguity in Kuranko Narratives. Bloomington, IN 1982.Google Scholar

  • Koetting, James T.: The Effects of Urbanization: The Music of the Kasena People of Ghana. In: The World of Music 17,4 (1975) 23–31.Google Scholar

  • Lüthi, Max: Once upon a Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales. Trans. Lee Chadeayne and Paul Gottwald. Bloomington, IN 1976.Google Scholar

  • Mensch, Barbara/Bagah, Daniel/Clark, Wesley H./Binka, Fred: The Changing Nature of Adolescence in the Kasena-Nankana District of Northern Ghana. In: Studies in Family Planning 30,2 (1999) 95–111.Google Scholar

  • Nazzar, Alex/Adongo, Philip B./Binka, Fred N. et al.: Developing a Culturally Appropriate Family Planning Program for the Navrongo Experiment. In: Studies in Family Planning 26,6 (1995) 307–24.Google Scholar

  • Okpewho, Isidore: The Art of the Ozidi Saga. In: Research in African Literatures 34,3 (2003) 1–26.Google Scholar

  • Opoku-Agyemang, Kwadwo: The Logic of Escape in the Akan Trickster Tale Cycle. In: Asemka 8 (1995) 101–112.Google Scholar

  • Opoku-Agyemang, Naana Jane. 1999. Gender-Role Perceptions in the Akan Folktale. In: Research in African Literatures 30,1 (1999) 16–139.Google Scholar

  • Owusu-Sarpong, Christiane: Review of A.K. Awedoba’s An Introduction to Kasena Society and Culture through Their Proverbs. In: Institute of African Studies Research Review 16,2 (2000) 67–79.Google Scholar

  • Raheja, Gloria Goodwin: The Paradoxes of Power and Community: Women’s Oral Traditions and the Uses of Ethnography. In: Songs, Stories, Lives: Gendered Dialogues and Cultural Critique. ed. G. G. Raheja. New Delhi 2003, 1–22.Google Scholar

  • Röhrich, Lutz: Märchen und Wirklichkeit. Eine volkskundliche Untersuchung. Wiesbaden 1956.Google Scholar

  • Scheub, Harold. The Poem in the Story: Music, Poetry, and Narrative. Madison, W.I. 2002.Google Scholar

  • Schott, Rüdiger: The Life of the Dead in Reality and in Folktales of the Bulsa (Northern Ghana, West Africa). In: Folk Narrative and World View. Vorträge des 10. Kongresses der Internationalen Gesellschaft für Volkserzählforschung (ISFNR), Innsbruck 1992. Teil 2. ed. Leander Petzoldt. Frankfurt a. M. 1996, 741–757.Google Scholar

  • Sidikou, Aissata: Recreating Words, Reshaping Worlds: The Verbal art of Women from Niger, Mali and Senegal. Trenton, NJ 2001.Google Scholar

  • Sougou, Omar: Transformational Narratives: Hearing/Reading Selected Senegalese Folktales by Young Women. In: Research in African Literatures 39,3 (2008) 26–38.Google Scholar

  • Tekpetey, Kwawisi. Kweku Ananse: A Psychoanalytical Approach. In: Research in African Literatures 37,2 (2006) 76–82.Google Scholar

  • Tatar, Maria: Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood. Princeton, NJ 1992.Google Scholar

  • Yoneyama, Lisa: Traveling Memories, Contagious Justice: Americanization of Japanese War Crimes at the End of the Post-Cold War. In: Journal of Asian American Studies 6 (2003) 57–93.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2018-11-14

Published in Print: 2018-11-07

Citation Information: Fabula, Volume 59, Issue 3-4, Pages 274–294, ISSN (Online) 1613-0464, ISSN (Print) 0014-6242, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/fabula-2018-0104.

Export Citation

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in