Folklore as a part of oral language is one of the most significant cultural characteristics. My cultural background is full of national myths and parables. For my analysis one of them which is called the Parable of predation (the typed text is added at the end of the present research paper). Somalia is a country with a long history of a clan-driven political system. The traditional and cultural basement of such structure can be found in the present parable.
At the beginning, the lion, jackal, wolf and hyena agreed to hunt together and to join their skills and forces in order of common success. However, when they killed a camel, they were not able to share the meat. The wolf cut four pieces, each of equal size, but other partners were not agreeing with this. Obviously, the lion positioned himself as the king started to be angry with such count. The jackal wanted to serve the lion and cut the new pieces giving the biggest one to the lion.
When the hyena started to argue, the jackal said that he learnt from the wolf. And it was true, because at that time the wolf already was blind. The wolf said, “Before, when my eyes were open, I did not see. Now, though my eyes are wounded, I see clearly” (Hesse 254). The present parable demonstrates the typical attitude to the politics within the Somali society such the supreme position of power and inequality.
Many Somali folktales describe the animals in order to emphasize the human behavior. Lilius says that most of the stories contain the female characters; therefore, it is possible to indicate the high position of woman in the Somali society. However, there are also many stories “about men, such as Cigaal Shilaad, who is always afraid, and Wiil Waal, brave but dictatorial, as well as animal tales about the Lion, the Hyena, and the Jackal, among others” (Lilius 94).
The image of those animals is a symbol of the use of force within the political system. According to Werner, the jackal is “considered the hare a stupid sort of creature” (1933), therefore, in the parable the jackal is the first who is ready to give the power (or the biggest piece of meat) to the lion. Historically, people were unable to live in the peace, using their skills and power jointly.
There was always someone who could take the power by the use of weapons, blood and fears. And folklore is a mirror of the real historical background. Moreover, the animals present in the parable can be considered as the representatives of the different social and ethnic communities that cannot find the solutions how to live together as the equal partners, using the resources and power jointly and getting more results.
The lion and hyena are the foils who need more power and who are ready to use their force in order to get what they want. During the long history, Somali people were unable to join their forces in order to create a strong and developed country. Such situation which is described in the parable is typical for the historical situation in the country. I think that creating this parable the citizens of Somalia expressed their will to change the situation, to unite the society in order to achieve the common goods.
Hesse, Brian J. “Introduction: The myth of ‘Somalia’”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 28, No. 3 (2010): 247-259.
Lilius, Suzanne. “New Collection of Somali Folktales”, Bildhaan: An international journal of Somali studies, Vol. 6 (2006): 93-96.
Werner, Alice. Myth and Legends of the Bantu, 1933.