Folktales are like the mirrors of a culture, reflecting back a light-hearted, colorful vision of the human condition of which it is part. As a culture changes, so too does its stories, especially in West Africa where they are transmitted orally, only to be realigned with each new generation that tells them. So while versions may vary, their cultural importance remains.

3 Tales from the Ivory Coast

Korhogo cloth of the Senufo people, depicting characters from tales of the Ivory Coast.

Like most tales indigenous to West Africa, the allegories and traditional narratives passed down through generations of Ivorians enthrall and edify, startle and steer, recreate and reinforce the social values of their listeners. Through a panoply of characters — fantastical monsters, rebellious protagonists — ethical dichotomies unfold: the role of the individual, the stranger, the …