Decolonisation and the African Dilemma Tale: A Feast of African Superheroes, Magicians and Beautiful Princesses


  • Ayub Sheik UKZN



African dilemma tales, curriculum transformation, collaborative learning, decolonisation


The African consciousness has been wholly subsumed by Western ideology and resurfaces only in misrecognition and habitual disavowal. Valorising everything European, a history of haplessly succumbing to the seductions of Western rationality and perspectives has led to the denial and erasure of self and culture. In its place, the morbid African has been birthed, confronting his othering in self-defeating acquiescence and accepting his servile status as natural and ordained. Indeed, there is no ready panacea for centuries of exploitation and domination. This article suggests that one way to counter these ideological formations is to provide pathways to recognise the self. There can be no better way of doing this than to rekindle the myth, folklore and aphorisms long extinguished on the altar of Western education. Consequently, this study explores African dilemma tales as counter hegemonic narratives that may shape our consciousness, remind us of cultural wisdom effaced by colonial authority, and afford us the opportunity to celebrate our own African superheroes, magicians and extraordinarily beautiful princesses. The tales are drawn from the Ovimbundu from Angola, the Bura in Nigeria, the Bete of the Ivory Coast, the Vai and Hausa from Liberia, the Mano and Gio from Liberia, the Krachi from Togo and the Mossi of the Upper Volta, with an intertextual reference to other tribes on the continent. Using the lens of postcolonialism (eclectically drawn from Looma, Wiredu, Said, Heleta, Fanon and  Ng?g? wa Thiong’o, amongst others), this article enthuses over African dilemma tales and motivates a trenchant case for its transformational and pedagogical value in our curriculum.

Author Biography

Ayub Sheik, UKZN

Ass. Prof


Department of Languages



How to Cite

Sheik, Ayub. 2020. “Decolonisation and the African Dilemma Tale: A Feast of African Superheroes, Magicians and Beautiful Princesses”. Southern African Journal for Folklore Studies 30 (1):12 pages.



Received 2020-04-26
Accepted 2021-01-18
Published 2021-03-15