The Village Witch Doctor

by Amos Tutuola

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Tutuola has been compared to fellow Nigerian writers Chinua Achebe and Daniel O. Fagunwa. Learn more about one of these authors and his work. Compare his work and literary reputation to that of Tutuola. In what ways is this author's representation of African culture and history different from or similar to that of Tutuola? What themes are of concern to this author? In what ways does his writing style compare to that of Tutuola?

Tutuola is Nigerian. Learn more about the history of Nigeria during the pre-colonial period, the colonial period, and after national independence. What major historical events and political struggles occurred during these periods in Nigerian history?

Tutuola was ethnically of Yoruba descent. Learn more about the history, social structure, and culture of the Yoruba people. What different tribal identities exist within the broader category of Yoruba people? What was the effect of colonization on Yoruba culture and social structure? What is the status of the Yoruba people in Africa today?

Although Tutuola was raised speaking the Yoruba language, he wrote exclusively in English. Learn more about the Yoruba language. In what countries is Yoruba spoken? Why do you suppose Tutuola chose to write in English?

Tutuola is credited with recording in written English an oral narrative tradition of Yoruba culture and language. Other writers have recorded the traditional oral folktales of their own cultures, for example, Italian Folktales, collected by Italo Calvino; Grimm's Fairy Tales, a collection of traditional German fairy tales, collected by the Brothers Grimm; and A Thousand and One Nights (also called Arabian Nights), which is an ancient collection of tales from the Middle East. Read a story from one of these collections. Compare it to Tutuola's tale. In what ways does it contain similar themes and narrative structure to that of Tutuola? In what ways do these folktales differ from each other?

Tutuola's stories are a liberal rendering of stories told to and by him as a child among his family, friends, and community. What stories have been told to or by you among your own family, friends, or community? Write down a story you have only heard in oral form. What changes occur in the process of translating an oral story to written form? What elements of the story are lost in the process of transcription? Does the process of writing it down add to or embellish the story in any way?

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