Isilwane, The Animal

This book summary is take from a user review on Amazon and slightly adapted:

Credo Mutwa, a Zulu Shaman from South Africa offers a succinct and profound introduction, followed by numerous chapters both on domestic (cat, dog, goat, cow, sheep, rooster), and wild animals (28 of them altogether). He goes on to tell us that cats and dogs are thought of more as keepers of their human ‘owners’ than the other way around. We pay tribute to them by feeding them…they in turn protect us, [and not just from obvious physical incursions]. Many of the chapters begin with Credo’s praise song to the particular species. These are followed by ruminations on various traditions and names (with translations) associated with the different animals, as expressed in some of the various languages of Southern Africa. Much of the time, several traditional stories (often short, somteimes very lengthy) will be offered in which the given animal plays a large or primary role. Some of these are cosmic stories and/or creation myths in which the animal may serve as the hero/heroine others are more at fables. All are well told. The chapters range in length from a few sentences (the seal) to 14 pages (the monkey – including a long, very graphic ‘cosmic’ legend involving God, his 4-headed dog, and a huge demonic creature whose activity threatens to destroy the inhabitants of earth, humans included – the monkdy ends up the main hero). The book is profusely illustrated with beautiful and intricate pen-and-ink drawings of most of the species, sometimes integrated into scenes of the indigenous environment… While it’s too bad this is currently out of print (its publisher is in Cape Town, South Africa), and used copies are sometimes expensive.

Hopefully it will be reprinted soon. Otherwise, by all means try your local library, and/or the following websites in South Africa: BidorBuy, PriceCheck or eBay (internationally).

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