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Added on 26th June 2020

Oral tradition West African Folktale

This cautionary folktale reminds us to kind and compassionate to those we meet for we never know just who they might be.

Story

Long ago there lived a girl called ‘Chinye’ who was cruelly used as a servant by her stepmother, Nkechi. All day, every day Chinye had to fetch and to carry, to prepare food and to do all the housework. One day, near dusk Nkechi asks Chinye to get water from the river. Chinye is scared to walk through the forest in the dark and begs not to go but she must. In the forest she meets a variety of creatures. However, as Chinye is a kind and compassionate person the creatures she meets are kind in return. Willing to listen to an ancient, old woman, Chinye is rewarded with a magical gourd filled with treasures.

Not to be outdone, Nkechi sends out her daughter, Adanma to find a bigger gourd with more riches. However, as Adanma is neither kind nor compassionate the gourd she returns with unleashes trouble not riches.

Why we chose it

A classic and well-known cautionary folk narrative from West Africa. Like many other classic folktales and myths, it features powerful beings disguised as the unfortunate or helpless and tells of the transformation of an ordinary individual through their own acts of compassion.

Chinye was one of the stories featured in our 2017 Christmas production, Jingle.

Where it came from

Chinye is a folktale from West Africa.

Where it went next

A picture book version of the story retold by Obi Onyefulu with illustrations by Evie Safarewicz was published in 1994.

Associated stories

Chinye is often referred to as a Cinderella story. Cinderella stories are told all over the world – stories with cruel stepmothers and stepsisters, kind and gentle heroines helped by magical intervention and punishment for those who were cruel to her.

Other ‘Cinderella’ stories in our 1001 collection are a Kashmiri Cinderella, and the Iroquios story Little Burnt Face.

Added on 26th June 2020

Oral tradition West African Folktale