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Site Last Update: 09 Dec, 2019
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Book Review of African Stories for Preachers and Teachers
Compiled by Joseph G. Healey

Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2005.
Paperback, 152 pages.
Price: $5.

Reviewed by John P. Mbonde

The author, Joseph G. Healey, is an American Maryknoll priest who was ordained in 1966. He has worked in East Africa since 1968 and presently is lives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He is the renowned prolific writer and analyst of African proverbs and stories including the famous book Towards an African Narrative Theology (published by both Orbis Books and Paulines Publications Africa). He has been in East Africa since 1968, and has written several other books including: A Fifth Gospel: The Experience of Black Christian Values; Kuishi Injili (Living the Gospel); and Kueneza Injili Kwa Methali (Preaching the Gospel Through Proverbs). He is involved in continuous research on African stories, proverbs, sayings, poems, folklore, etc.

In his other recent book, Once Upon a Time in Africa, published by Orbis Books, 2004 Joseph Healey collected stories that are beautifully, uniquely African at the same time convey universal wisdom and truth. "For the specialist in African folklore and the student of life alike, this book is a treasure,"observes Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of Harvard University.

Now African Stories for Preachers and Teachers is published by Paulines Publications Africa, 2005. It has a collection of 139 stories from 18 countries in every part of Africa and range from stories in South Africa to Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa to Burkina Faso and Nigeria in West Africa. The stories are grouped under the following chapter headings: AIDS (7 stories); Community (14 stories); Culture Matters (20 stories); Education (3 stories); Faith (11 stories); Family (12); Good Times and Bad Times (11); Joy and Celebration (11); Life (18); Prayer (6); Seeds of God in African Soil (16); and Stories of the Beginning (10).

The author describes that "story" includes many different forms of African oral and written literature such as folktales, historical fiction, legends, myths, parables, poems prayers, proverbs, sayings, and songs. The book draws on true stories from African history and mission experience in Africa. These real life stories “ those that tell of real people and events -- have their own power to inspire, uplift, challenge, and stimulate our lives.

For example, take the story "President Nyerere Disguises Himself as a Beggar" on page 74. "He [the President] disguised himself as a beggar wearing worn-out clothes and an old hat. When he arrived at the gate of the branch of the National Milling Company in Shinyanga, no one recognised him. He simply passed through the gate without permission and went straight to the office of the manager. He knocked on the door and yelled out, "Hey, you people in there! Help me! I don't have any food..." The manager and his assistant were busy with some local businessmen who were buying the famine relief food that was supposed to go to the Tanzanian people. Finally, Nyerere opened the door and walked into the office. He took off his hat and made himself known. Needless to say, the manager was speechless..."

This book of African Stories is a valuable resource for preachers, homilists, teachers and people who work in communications media as well as for reflection in small groups such as Small Christian Communities and discussion groups in all walks of life.

John P. Mbonde is a retired Tanzanian civil servant, journalist, and author of books, book reviewer and analyst of African oral literature. He has traveled all over the world on academic and study tours.

Mr. John P. Mbonde
P. O. Box 3479
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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