JI-NONGO-NONGO MEANS RIDDLES by Verna Aardema

JI-NONGO-NONGO MEANS RIDDLES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fifty-odd African riddles, mostly of indifferent interest to children, are given added weight by being identified with particular ""tribes""--and herein lies the rub. Even if it made sense to present a riddle (as distinct from a folktale) as the product of a particular tribal culture, several of these eleven designations do not refer to tribes at all, and in the worst case, that of ""Kafir,"" what is being put forth, unthinkingly, is a derogatory term once used in southern Africa to refer to all black Africans. (Other instances of mislabeling involve ""Accra,"" a city not a group, and ""Congo,"" a region occupied by several groups, among them the Bakongo.) What Aardema apparently has done is to carry over the designation from her source--hence the riddles culled from a 1904 English work, The Essential Kafir, are identified as ""riddles from the Kafir"" (though how anyone familiar with the terrain can speak of ""riddles from the Accra"" defies understanding). With an unappealing, ill-conceived format to boot (three riddles on a page opposite an often-elliptical illustration that applies to one), this is egregious pseudo-Africana of the most dispensable sort.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1979
Publisher: Four Winds