Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters Additional History

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters is an African folktale.  Folktales are stories that are heard and remembered.  They are passed from one generation to another by word of mouth.  That is one of the defining characteristics of folktales.  Many times these tales are altered from generation to generation or from culture to culture.

There are many kinds of folktales: myths, legends, Marchen, and fairy tales.  These terms refer to stories that are highly imaginative and everyone knows they are fictional.  They are not believed by the person telling the story or by those listening.

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters is a Marchen.  They usually take place in a magical land.  A common theme in Marchens involves an underdog who, through the help of magic, obtains her birthright or marriage partner.  The hero/heroine is asked to do impossible tasks to obtain this, but through the help of magic, they live "happily ever after."

This folktale was inspired by an earlier folktale from a book by G.M. Theal.  The illustrations were inspired by the ruins and the flora and fauna of an ancient city in Zimbabwe.  Zimbabwe occupies part of the great plateau of southern Africa.  English is the official language of Zimbabwe.  The most important Bantu languages are Shona and Ndebele.  The names of the characters are from the Shona language and mean the following: Mufaro (moo-FAR-on) means "happy man," Nyasha (ne-AH-sha) means "mercy," Manyara (mahn-YAR-ah) means "ashamed," and Myoka (nee-YO-kah) means "snake."

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All information obtained from Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters An African Tale by John Steptoe, Lothrop, Lee and Shepard books, New York, 1987(ISBN 0-688-04045-4) and Microsoft Encarta 96 Encyclopedia.