Sebgugugu the Glutton: A Bantu Tale from Rwanda

Overview

The author of Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears offers a lively retelling of the traditional African story of Sebgugugu, a poor man who learns a lesson about the consequences of greed. Includes a glossary of African words and pronunciations. Map. Full-color throughout.

A greedy poor man tests the patience of Imana, Lord of Rwanda, until he loses everything.

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Overview

The author of Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears offers a lively retelling of the traditional African story of Sebgugugu, a poor man who learns a lesson about the consequences of greed. Includes a glossary of African words and pronunciations. Map. Full-color throughout.

A greedy poor man tests the patience of Imana, Lord of Rwanda, until he loses everything.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this lackluster retelling of an African tribal legend, a poor man who ``never listened to his wife'' follows his greed and leads his family to near starvation not once, but four times. Despite Sebgugugu's complacent impenitence, the patient Imana, Lord of Rwanda, repeatedly answers his prayers until one final indulgence of unchecked gluttony condemns him to ruin. While the Bantu family of languages permeates many South, Central and East African tribes (two in Rwanda), the text provides no specific information that might orient readers to a particular culture. (The few details supplied could mislead--no Rwandan woman, for example, would carry an infant in a basket on her head.) Except for the illustrations and names, the broadly told fable might have emanated from almost any culture. Unfortunately, the jarring palette of Clouse's silkscreen pictures evokes none of the distinctive topography of Rwandan agricultural landscape. Still, disappointing language and illustrations notwithstanding, the story itself may satisfy as a fable with a basic universal message. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-- This folktale from Rwanda features Sebgugugu, a poor man with a young family and only one cow. One day he thinks he hears a crow telling him to kill the cow; in return, he will get a hundred more. Although Sebgugugu's wife warns him not to ``do anything so foolish,'' he slaughters his cow. As his starving family searches for food, Sebgugugu implores Imana, the mythical Lord of Rwanda, to save them. Imana appears and leads them to a magical vine, but Sebgugugu is ordered not to cut it. Twice more, Sebgugugu behaves foolishly. This time Imana does not give him another chance; his family disappears. Aardema's adaptation is lively and readable, with vivid, onomatopoetic language. Repetition and swift action will appeal to beginning readers. The wife's repeated warnings are accompanied by illustrations that show her increasing alarm. These pictures are rendered in a primitive style; they are more suggestive than realistic. In general, they work quite well with the text. True to the original tradition, this is a didactic folktale that shows children proper values and warns them of the consequences of violating those principles. Its message, however, is also a contemporary one. --Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Siena College Library, Loudonville, NY
Janice Del Negro
Sebgugugu is a poor man. His only valuable earthly possession is the cow whose milk feeds his two children. But Sebgugugu becomes convinced that a singing bird is bringing him a message from Imanu, lord of Rwanda: "Kill the cow and get a hundred." Ignoring the protestations of his wife, Unanana, Sebgugugu kills the cow--but no more cows appear. Sebgugugu prays to Imanu for help. Three times Imanu saves his family from starvation--with a flowering fruit vine, a rock bubbling with food, and a kraal of cattle--and three times Sebgugugu ignores the protestations of his wife and tampers with the food source. After the third time Imanu loses patience, and the greedy, disobedient Sebgugugu loses everything he has. This retelling of a Bantu tale also appears in Aardema's collection "Behind the Back of the Mountain" (1973). The cut-paper collages are dramatic, colorful, and easy to see, making the title useful for reading aloud to older groups as well as for the transitional reader. With luck, it will lead readers to the original collection and beyond.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802850737
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 5/28/1993
  • Edition description: 43137 William B Eerdmans
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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