Tigre' Folk Tales: Their Relevances
TIGRE’ FOLK TALES: THEIR RELEVANCES
TO FREUDIAN DEFNESIVE MECHANISMS
Conto Rosini, after having studied our folk literature such as proverbs concluded how they were, and still are related to our social-psychology. On my part, I found out some which are closely related to different types of escape or defensive mechanisms ( መመኽነይታ) employing to justify or conceal our faults and shortcomings. However, there is nothing new of this conceptual framework. According to Hart, the author of “One Hundred Famous People,” Freud only succeeded in defining and classifying them systematically in his attempt to show how human nature is fearful of reality as seen in his tendency to use some face-saving devices. The primary aim in Counseling Psychology is to instill a self-awareness in the client population. Such approach resembles Pirandello’s dramatic scene in Italian society that ones used to interact in superficial manner (masked) for fear of exposing the underlying conflict.
Following are two Tigre’ folk tales exemplifying rationalization and displacement respectively. Rationalization means to find an excuse or reason for one’s fault, and displacement means to direct one’s pent-up felling such an ungovernable anger to weaker and safer person or object. According to Freud, this is in an attempt to ease id’s tension (the primitive self) which is ruled by the pleasure principle; instead of ego (the rational self.)
FOLK TALE I: LA COMPASSIION DE RENARD.
Un renard volait penetrer dans un poulailler, mais il se fatigue long temps en vain. Enfin, voyant qu’il ne pouvait pas forcer la maisonnette, il s’en retourna. Apres qu’il fut arrive’ son fre’re, celui-ci l’interrogea en distant:
-mon fre’re, avez-vous trouve’ un bon souper?
-comme la pouvre poule, dit-il, criait beaucoup, nom coeur fut touche’ de compassion et je m’en suis retourne’.
* Source: Contes Populaires d’ Afrique. Par Rene Basset. Paris.
In this story, the fox seems to tell us as if it moved to spare the hen’s life out of pity, but not out of her failure to catch it by passing through the fence.
Compare this to Aesop’s fable “ The Fox and the Grape.”
an Aesop Fable
an Aesop Fable
A very hungry fox walked into a vineyard where there was an ample supply of luscious looking grapes. Grapes had never looked so good, and the fox was famished. However, the grapes hung higher than the fox could reach. He jumped and stretched and hopped and reached and jumped some more trying to get those yummy grapes, but to no avail. No matter what he tried, he could not reach the grapes. He wore himself out jumping and jumping to get the grapes.
"Those grapes surely must be sour," he said as he walked away, "I wouldn't eat them if they were served to me on a silver platter."
FOLK TALE II. THE GOAT WHO KILLED THE LEOPARD
Once a leopard cub wandered away from his home into grasslands where the elephant herds grazed. He was too young to know his danger. While the elephants grazed one of them stepped upon the leopard cub by accident, and killed him. Other leopards found the body of cub soon after, and they rushed to his father to tell him of the tragedy.
“Your son is dead!” They told him. “We found him in the valley!” The father leopard was overcome with grief.
“Ah, who killed him? Tell me, so that I can avenge his death.”
“The elephants have killed him,” the other leopards said.
“What? The elephants?” The father leopard said with surprise in his voice.
“Yes, the elephants,” they repeated.
He thought for a minute.
“No, it is not the elephants. It is the goats who have killed him. Yes, the goats, it is they who have done this awful thing to me!”
So the father leopard went out in a fit of terrible rage and found a herd of goats grazing in the hills, and he slaughtered many of them in revenge.
And even now, when a man is wronged by someone stronger than himself, he often avenges himself upon someone who is weaker than himself.
This story sounds like another Tigrigna proverb that says: ሕነ ቀራናት ንጓዕማማት። roughly translated revenging by killing hornless animal instead of horned ones which cannot protect themselves. It reminds me of defeated Derg soldiers who were killing unarmed Eritrean civilians on their way to garrisons.
*Source: “The Fire on the Mountain and Other Ethiopian and Eritrean Folk Tales. By Henry Courlander and Wolf Leslau. Some of the collected tales had been translated into Tigrigna in 1987. Hopefully, they will be reprinted along a newly discovered Eritrean folk tales.
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