Once upon a time
Growing up as a child in Nigeria, I heard many stories from different adults all around me. I considered one of my aunts the best story-teller because she could weave an interesting story out of any theme. Patricia, my wife, is also a great storyteller. She once told me an enjoyable story for almost an hour, all of it made up as she went along!
I was told different kinds of stories: real, fantasy; fun, boring; happy, sad; soothing, scary; some of animals and men, others of spirits. Varied as all of these stories, there was always something to learn, an important message that the story-teller wanted to impart.
I always enjoyed listening to the stories, though I may have had very little understanding of the core messages behind them. I loved animal stories best.
In reading some Inuit stories, I found they shared many similar elements and messages with tales from my childhood. As with my childhood stories, I also found a number of themes and messages that appear to conflict with contemporary understanding and viewpoints.
In this category, I would place stories of spirits having encounters with humans. Appearing in various forms, mostly scary, they are often presented as having power over, with humans helpless and completely at their mercy.
The conflicting messages that such stories carry should not stand as a hinderance to the appreciation of the relevance and impact of those stories in traditional cultures. I think the essence of these stories remain valid for the people.
If you have never read any traditional Inuit or other aboriginal story, I encourage you to try one. Google is a great resource to finding aboriginal myths and stories. You will discover poetry, fantasy and adventure. You might also find the source of some of the astounding vision and creativity of Inuit and other aboriginal artists.
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