Jamaican Folk Tales

Jamaican Folk Tales, contributed by Tracie Blake


Today we have television, radio, internet, lot more books and a barrage of other possible ways that we can educate and entertain ourselves.

Not so in the days of slavery. Slaves in Jamaica had to be creative in findings ways of entertaining themselves. They usually congregate at nights when their masters had retired to bed.

From there, among other activities, folklores or folk tales (story telling) were done. Folk tales are based on myths and legends based on traditional cultural practices.

The Folk Tale Leader, mostly referred to as the Storyteller, would normally be the oldest most respected person in the village. At nights, the village children and adults would gather around the Storyteller who would marvel and astound everyone with sensationalized stories.

These Folk Tales are usually comedic but are based on morals and teach important life lessons.

There are a vast amount of Folk Tales that include stories of black magic, witchcraft and duppies (ghosts) which were used mainly as a scare tactic for children to obey their parents.

The most popular of these traditional tales was Anansi (Anancy) Stories.

Also referred to as Bredda Anansi, he is depicted as a mischievous spider that was always getting himself into trouble, and always had to learn the hard way. He lives in the wild amongst other creatures of the wild such as Tiger and Mongoose. He was always a mean trickster to the rest of them.

So vast and rich in our culture was folk tales that the Jamaican folk singers emerged and demonstrated them in musical forms to the world at large.

This was later expanded on by the Most Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverly who share it with the rest of the world in dialect, poetry and books.

Since then, there have been countless articles and books written on this aspect of our heritage.


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