SOME GOLD, A LITTLE IVORY: Country Tales from Ghana and the Ivory Coast by Edythe Rance Haskett

SOME GOLD, A LITTLE IVORY: Country Tales from Ghana and the Ivory Coast

Email this review


As a collection this has little of the pungency and none of the diversity of Miss Haskett's Liberian Grains of Pepper (1967) and, because of their consistent, insistent pointing-a-moral, the twenty-four short tales shape up as more exemplary than entertaining. Sometimes, in fact, it appears that the author has forced a moral from a story whose satisfaction stems simply from misfortune overcome: the girl Hallah does as she's told in the underwater realm of ""Binyoka, the Old Woman of the River"" and apparently (this is undeveloped) chooses wisely between the clay and iron pot, garnering riches and suitors as a reward; once prosperous and happily married, she does not hoard her good fortune -- but there is no basis for concluding ""that kindness begets kindness, and Hallah received her due share."" Making the best of things becomes great goodness too in ""The Three Prayers"": stuck with his ugly wife (having lost her when she became beautiful) Owulu in time forgets her bad features -- which hardly warrants the homily that ""beauty is in the eyes of those who love."" The manner matches the propriety of the matter: flat but direct in the first book, it exudes a prissiness (""upsetting his parents further"") particularly unbecoming to Africa: a destructive bull elephant has a damaged ear and tusk -- ""Perhaps these handicaps made him sensitive and spiteful."" Some are naturally better than others but few transcend the mis-telling.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1971
Publisher: John Day