This month I want to do one more non-fairy tale in defense of (because I was reading random folktales and this one caught my eye).
Brief History: This story was written down by Elphinstone Dayrell, the District Commissioner of South Nigeria in the early 1900s. This Nigerian tale is about Afiong, the most beautiful girl in her town, who rejected all of the young men asking for her hand. Her beauty was told of in the spirit wold where Skull convinced his friends to lend him legs, arms, a body, and a handsome head. He went to the market of Afiong’s town and she was instantly in love with him. She brought him home where her parents were (understandably) super weirded out that she wanted to marry a complete stranger she had met in a market. Still, eventually they gave in and their daughter was taken away by her new husband. Once arriving the spirit world, Aifong discovered that her new husband had borrowed his good looks and was really just a literal skull. Still, she tried to be obedient and helpful to her new mother-in-law. The old woman was so grateful, she started to like Aifong and worried about their neighbors eating her (because apparently that’s a thing). So, she used Juju (aka magic) to summon a wind that took Aifong home to her parents. From then on, the town passed a law saying that their daughters could not marry strangers from far away lands.
Analysis: I tried to read more on the cultures of the Efik-Ibibio peoples (a joint language between two cultures that Dayrell was collecting the stories from) in order to better help my analysis. It didn’t. I think internet failed me. This has left me so shaken, all I can leave in defense of this story is - Be nice to your mother-in-law. If she sides with you the divorce can be made that much easier.
Blame It on the Victorians: Victorian England was busy being imperialistic, destroying culture and ignoring what Belgium was doing in the Congo, to pay attention to folklore for another continent. Don’t get defensive. You know it’s true. Still, this story was written down in the early 1900s within a book with an introduction by folklorist Andrew Lang. I’m not going to lie. I spent a good amount of time on the internet looking for information about Elphinstone Dayrell and. . . yeah. I know he died in 1917 and that’s about it. His books of Nigerian folklore was published by the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland so… there’s… that… I guess.
Last Thoughts: All I can think of is Bob the pervy skull in Jim Butcher’s the Dresden Files.
Seriously - Can anyone tell me more about this guy?