Unanana and the Enormous One-Tusked Elephant

by Vicky on September 13, 2010

This week’s Page Presents class featured “Unanana and the Enormous One-Tusked Elephant,” a Zulu tale from South Africa.  It’s in the collection, Magical Tales from Many Lands, retold by Margaret Mayo and illustrated by Jane Ray.

Unanana builds a house for herself and her two beautiful children in the middle of a wide road, even though everyone tells her not to build there, because it is the animals’ road through the bush.

One day, when she has left her children in the care of their Big Cousin, the animals come down the road one by one and ask, “Whose children are these?”  Big Cousin says that they are the children of Unanana, and each animal remarks, “What beautiful children,” and goes off down the road.  But when the enormous one-tusked elephant comes along, he says, “What beautiful children…but they are playing in the middle of MY road!”  And he swallows them up.

When Unanana comes home and learns what has happened, she stirs up a big pot of corn pudding and heads down the road in search of the enormous one-tusked elephant. When she finds him, the elephant swallows her up too!  Unanana finds a lot of people and animals are in the stomach, all just sitting around gloomily.  She finds her children and feeds them, and then shares her corn pudding with everyone.  When they all begin to dance energetically, the elephant yells, “Get out now!  Get out of my stomach!”

“And how are we supposed to do that?” Unanana demands.

“Any way you can, just hurry up!” groans the elephant.  So Unanana snips an opening in the elephant’s side with her sewing scissors, and everyone climbs out and goes home.  But they frequently come back to visit Unanana and her beautiful children, and to have wonderful dance parties.   As for the enormous one-tusked elephant, he made a wide detour around Unanana’s house from that time on and never came trampling down that road again.

For Mr. Matt’s Minute, Matt taught everyone the marketplace rhythm at a slow tempo and then gradually speeded it up.  Everyone caught onto the rhythm and enthusiastically joined in.

Soon he had everyone clapping and dancing to the music of “Africa” by the Soweto Gospel Choir.

I told them that they would need to be ready to dance during the story!

Then, at the point in the story when everyone in the elephant’s story starts dancing, I told the kids that they would need to help upset the elephant’s stomach.  I played “Ewa Ka Djo” from Angelique Kidjo’s Logozo album, and everyone danced energetically.  Since it’s quite a long cut, I turned down the volume while I finished telling the tale.  When Unanana leads everyone out of the stomach, I opened a little door in the elephant bodi-puppet and pulled out a long string of paper dolls.  This special effect delighted the audience!  Then I turned the volume back up for the dance party when everyone returns to visit Unanana and her children.  The timing worked out perfectly.

After the story, the kids made their own Enormous One-Tusked Elephant bodi-puppets.

This kid was so thrilled with his bodi-puppet, he was racing pell-mell to show it to me!

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