Dr. Harold Scheub is Professor of African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He received his Ph.D. in African Languages and Literature at that university. He has been a Fulbright Lecturer at the National University of Lesotho, and has also taught at Valparaiso University and at Masindi Senior Secondary School in Uganda. Dr. Scheub has taught graduate and undergraduate courses and seminars in the Department of African Languages and Literature and also in the Folklore Program.2006 0-7734-5741-0
This is a study of two Zulu women, storytellers, one who performed stories in 1868, the other in 1972. Lydia umkaSethemba and Asilita Philisiwe Khumalo are two African women, one hundred years apart, both accomplished storytellers: their stories, in their similarities and variations, provide insights into the nature of stories and the evolving of stories from one generation to the next. At the core of their stories are identical structural underpinnings; the facade of those stories varies to the point that the narratives seem wholly unlike. Each of the women takes a traditional tale from the oral repertory, and, as storytellers have done from the beginning, organizes tradition as a context for the contemporary world. In each case, an ideal world is envisioned, for Lydia umkaSethemba a world of plenty, a realm distinct from the reality of her environs in the 1860s. For Asilita Philisiwe Khumalo, it is a world of freedom, an escape from the apartheid reality that characterized her country in the 1970s. The two raconteurs build their works around familiar swallowing monster stories, conventional movements into the heavens, seasoned tales dealing with transformation from one being to another. Each takes the familiar and makes it peculiarly her own.