SWANSEA PEOPLE’S MULTILINGUAL STORYTELLING AUDIO LIBRARY
(Fersiwn Gymraeg yma)
ONLINE PUBLIC CELEBRATION
Saturday 27 March, at 12.00 mid-day
This is a
multilingual storytelling audio library, created by Hafan Books (associated with Swansea Asylum Seekers Support), in partnership with the City and County of Swansea’s Community Cohesion Team.
You can listen to people from Swansea, from different language communities, telling stories in their own languages: stories for children, folk tales, world traditions, and more.
An English translation is provided, in audio and/or as text. Some of the stories have pictures and animations.
So far we have stories in: Italian, Bengali, Sylheti, Farsi/Persian, Amharic, Sorani Kurdish, Spanish (from El Salvador), and French (one with a song in Bakweri/Bantu!) About 200 languages are spoken in Swansea… This is just the start…
Do you want to give a story to the library? Questions, comments, suggestions? Please contact email@example.com 07736408064
Short link for this page: tinyurl.com/swanseatales
THE COW BOY AND THE TIGER
.. Zinia Akhter tells the story “The Cow Boy and the Tiger” in Bengali. This is a story about the bad things that happen to people who tell lies. It is known in English with a different animal in the title. There was once a young boy who looked after the cows for his village on the edge of the forest. This cow boy loved to play pranks on the villagers. He was always trying to scare them by shouting ‘Tiger! Tiger! Help! Help!’ So they would come running to help him. But there was no tiger. ‘Ha ha! Pranked you again!’ But after he had played this prank a few times, the villagers got tired of the boy’s jokes. So one day, when a real tiger really did come out of the forest, and he shouted for help, nobody came to help him. The tiger ate him! The moral of the story: don’t tell lies! Zinia Akhter grew up in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and has been living in Swansea since 2014. Her daughter Alvina Biswas is 6 years old. Zinia is a full-time student at Gower College studying Beauty Therapy (level 3).
Animation of Zinia’s story by Dai Griffith s, telling it in English.
THE GOLDEN EGGS
Million Woldemariam tells the story “The Golden Eggs”, an old folk tale from Ethiopia. He tells it in Amharic, then he tells it in English. In this story, a poor father comforts his son after his mother has died. There was once a poor man from the country, who lived with his wife and their young son. His wife used to walk a long way to the market for shopping. She used to bring back everything they needed, and sweets for her son. They lived a happy life. Then all of a sudden, she passed away. It was very difficult for the man to tell his son that his mammy had died. The son would ask the father: Where is mammy? He would reply: Mammy has gone shopping. Where is mammy? Mammy has gone shopping. Then one day, the son asked: Where is mammy? And the father said: She went up in the sky, into heaven. But she is not alone there. She has got a hen, similar to the goose that lays a golden egg every day. That hen lives high up in the sky, in heaven. And mammy has got that hen. Mammy will always send us that golden egg. —- So this is the way the father comforted his son. Million Woldemariam grew up in Ethiopia, where he worked as a Flight Safety Instructor, and has lived in Swansea since 2002. He is a graduate of University of Wales Trinity St David’s with a Masters in Computer Networking.
Illustration and animation by Gwri Pennar ( GooRee).
TIME AND LOVE
(FARSI / PERSIAN)
Shahsavar Rahman tells the story “Time and Love”. He tells it in Farsi (Persian), then in English. Once upon a time there was an island where all the feelings lived – Happiness, Sadness, Vanity, Cleverness, Wealth, and all the others. One day they heard that the island was going to sink under the sea. They all started to flee in their boats. Only Love delayed leaving the island until the last minute. But she had no boat … Love was drowning. She asked the others to take her on their boat … One by one she asked them … None of them would take her … Until at last she was saved … by …. Who will save Love? You have to listen to the story! Shahsavar Rahman was born in Sardasht, Iran. He studied Persian literature at undergraduate level and came to the UK as a political refugee in 2007. Now he is a British citizen and works as a Farsi interpreter, also speaking Kurdish languages. He volunteers with Swansea Asylum Seekers Support and on the team of the Cov19Chronicles project.
NASREDDIN AND HIS DONKEY
(FARSI / PERSIAN)
Mansoureh Mahmoodi tells one of the world-famous stories of the wise joker, Nasreddin. He was a Sufi who lived near Konya (Turkey) about 800 years ago. Mansoureh’s Iranian version has some special twists. One day Nasreddin and his son are going to town with their donkey. They pass a group of people who comment: “Look at those fools. Both of them walking in the hot sun, nobody riding the donkey!” So Nasreddin puts the boy on the donkey. Soon they pass another group of people, who comment: “That big strong boy, no respect! Riding the donkey while his poor old father has to walk!” So the boy gets off and the father rides the donkey. They pass some more people, who say: “That poor little boy! He has to walk while his lazy father rides the donkey!” So they decide they should both ride the donkey, to avoid criticism. The next people they see say: “Look at that poor donkey carrying so much weight!” So they get off, and Nasreddin carries the donkey over his shoulder. The next people they see laugh out loud. “Look at that silly man carrying the donkey!” So Nasreddin puts the donkey down and they walk beside the donkey again. Now Nasreddin turns to his son and says: “You see how hard it is to adapt to other people’s opinions. The truth is, you can’t please everyone. So you should just do what you know is right and please God.” And an Iranian proverb says: “You can shut doors, but you can never shut people’s mouths.” So don’t worry about what people saying. Enjoy whatever you like. Mansoureh Mahmoodi was born in Iran and has a degree in Economics. She has been here in Swansea about 18 months and is interested in painting, storytelling and sport.
The picture above is by Mansoureh Mahmoodi.
Animation of Mansoureh’s story, ‘Nasreddin and his Donkey’, told in English, by Prue Thimbleby.
THE WITCH AND THE BOILING CLOTHES
Chiara Ariotti tells a traditional witch story from Piedmont, Italy, where she grew up. A woman’s daughter had fallen ill. It was a mystery. The doctor believed that her life was in danger, but he could not find a remedy. In despair, the mother took her daughter to a witch doctor. He said: “Someone wants to harm the girl. You must go home, close all the windows, and boil all your daughter’s clothes.” She went home and started boiling her daughter’s clothes in a large pot. Suddenly, she heard a knock on the door. Frightened, she asked who it was. A strange voice said: “Please, don’t kill me!” The mother replied: “If you promise to leave my daughter alone, I will stop boiling the clothes.” The witch promised. The mother stopped boiling the clothes. And from that moment on, the girl got better and the witch no longer interfered in their lives. Chiara Ariotti is a retired Lecturer at Swansea University, where she taught Italian language, Translation and Interpreting for over 20 years, and was the Coordinator of all language courses offered by the Department of Adult Continuing Education (DACE).
THE BEAUTIFUL WITCH
Chiara Ariotti tells a second traditional witch story from Piedmont, Italy, where she grew up. A beautiful woman lived in the forest. She was too beautiful to be an ordinary person. She had to be a masca – a witch. She lived in a small hut, kept animals, danced very well, made her own clothes, and enchanted the men in the nearby village. The villagers were very suspicious. On nights when the moon was full, they would see the masca go through the woods to a great, ancient oak tree, to meet with strange people. So the villagers decided to deal with the witch. One night they surrounded the house and captured her, tied her arms and legs, put her in a sack, and threw her into the river. A few days later, the empty sack was seen floating on the surface of the water. From that day on, anyone who drank the river water was poisoned and anything that came into contact with it was instantly turned into stone. Chiara Ariotti is a retired Lecturer at Swansea University, where she taught Italian language, Translation and Interpreting for over 20 years, and was the Coordinator of all language courses offered by the Department of Adult Continuing Education (DACE).
(FRENCH AND BAKWERI/BANTU)
Eric Ngalle Charles performs a mysterious story-song from oral tradition around Mount Cameroon, where he grew up. According to tradition, the song was sung by the goddess Nyango Na Mwanna, warning Cameroonians of the coming of the slave ships from Europe. And later, it was sung by the Congo Basin deity Mokele Bembe, warning of the fate of Patrice Lumumba. A woman, wearing a red dress, stands by a waterfall, singing this song: “You’ve finished your work / Returning empty handed / Finished your work here on earth / You’re returning empty handed. / You are crying / Who are you crying for / Which of your children are you crying for? / Hold your heart together!” But the water spirits do not understand her accent. The more she sings the more the water rushes. She stands up; she is holding red socks, a single glove, and a broken watch. Eric Ngalle Charles is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Swansea University. He co-founded Hafan Books and runs writing courses at the Dylan Thomas Centre. He has lived in Wales for more than 20 years. His memoir is published by Parthian. I, Eric Ngalle
Otis Bolamu tells the story of Santonge Bia, a fearsome monster. This is a traditional tale from the Congo. Otis begins and ends the recording with the traditional cry of the storyteller ( griot). And he introduces the story with comments on the importance of African storytelling traditions. Satonge-Bia, a horrible monster with one eye, one leg, and one arm, causes terror and desolation in the villages, looting and stealing, killing and destroying. But a young orphan decides to rid the land of this menace. He takes advice from an old wise man who suggests a trick to trap the monster and put an end to his reign of terror. The clever child uses a nut and a tortoise to catch the monster. As an African proverb says: ‘A child may play the drum, and the adults dance’ – small things can have great effects. So always try to exceed your capacities! Otis Bolamu grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has lived in Swansea since 2018 after seeking political asylum. He volunteers with several organisations in the Swansea City of Sanctuary network. He was released from deportation detention and then given right to remain following a UK-wide campaign starting in Christmas 2018, signed by 70,000 people. Thanks to members of the Congolese Development Project for facilitating this recording.
TO MY MOTHER
Esther Nsanea recites ‘A ma mère’ – ‘To My Mother’ – a poem by Camara Laye, from Guinea. He is known for the book The Black Child (1953). There some musical versions of this famous poem: for example here. “Black woman, African woman, O mother, I think of you … / O Dâman, O mother, who carried me on your back, who nursed me, / who governed my first steps, / who opened my eyes to the beauties of the world, I think of you …” (Full text and translations here and here.) Esther Nsanea is a fashion stylist who volunteers with the Congolese Development Project.
THE STORY OF MBIRI MBIRI
Théodore Manzambi tells the story of witchdoctor Mbiri Mbiri, and sings the dance song named after him. The Langa Langa Stars were a very popular band in the Congo in the 1980s, playing soukous music. ( Youtube.) But one day, one of the band leaders wanted even more success, so he went to see a witchdoctor (féticheur) called Mbiri Mbiri. Mbiri Mbiri demanded the musician’s father as a sacrifice. He told the musician to gather some sand from under his father’s feet when he walked. But instead, the musician secretly followed Mbiri Mbiri and gathered sand from under his feet. He gave Mbiri Mbiri this sand. When Mbiri Mbiri performed his incantations, he looked in his magic mirror, and he saw his own face! “What have you done?” he exclaimed. “I’m going to die for the sake of music!” And the musician composed a dance called Mbiri Mbiri which was a great hit for the band in 1983. Moral of the story: Never think you are more intelligent than other people! Théodore Manzambi has lived in Swansea since 2017. He is Advice and Support Case Worker at Welsh Refugee Council and is Volunteer Coordinator with th e Congolese Development Project. He previously worked for the Centre for African Entrepreneurship.
(FARSI / PERSIAN)
Afsaneh Firoozya tells the story of “Liar Shepherd” (also known in English as The Boy Who Cried Wolf). The shepherd boy keeps shouting “The wolf is coming! The wolf is coming!” for no reason. The people run to save the shepherd and their sheep, but the boy just laughs, and they realize he was lying. Then one day a wolf attacks. The shepherd shouts for help, but the people don’t believe him. He shouts and shouts but no one comes to help. All the sheep are torn to pieces. The liar boy is left all alone. Afsaneh Firoozya is originally from Iran, where she worked with children for many years. She has lived in Swansea for 18 years. She has NVQ in Childcare. She has worked as a playworker for SASS since 2004.
THE MISERLY MAN
Richard Nomba Tshimanga tells a story which is told all over Africa. Once upon a time there was a very rich man, the richest man in his village. He was also the most miserly man. He was nicknamed M’bibizo, meaning “the miser”. M’bibizo was uniquely stingy. With no wife nor employees, he did all the housework himself. He was proud of spending nothing. One day, M’bibizo fell into a well. He cried out for help and his nearest neighbour came running and held out his hand, exclaiming: “M’bibizo, give me your hand so I can get you out of the well.” But M’bibizo hated giving anything! He hesitated to give his hand. That long reaction time was fatal. Probably he would have survived if only his neighbour had told him “take my hand!” The wise men of the village remembered that it was indeed greed that killed rich M’bibizo. Richard Nomba Tshimanga is a volunteer with the Congolese Development Project and the Centre for African Entrepreneurship, assisting with their respective food support projects during the pandemic.
THE ROOSTER AND THE FOX
Avin Rashidi tells a Kurdish folk tale about stranger danger. Once there was a lovely farm with lots of animals including turkeys and geese, a cat and a dog, chickens and a Rooster. The Rooster was very clever. He loved hearing stories told by grown-ups, which taught useful lessons for life. One day he made a big mistake. There was a hole in the fence and he escaped into the forest. Deep in the forest, he was so happy he burst out singing. A Fox heard him and came running to catch him and eat him. But the Rooster jumped up into a tree. “Uncle Fox,” said the Rooster, “do you want to eat me?” “No, no,” said the Fox, “I just want to be your friend. You are so handsome and sweet. Why don’t you come down? Haven’t you heard that the King of the Forest, the Lion, has commanded that from today, no animal can eat any other, or fight any other, or harm any other. We must all live in peace. So let’s be friends.” But the Rooster didn’t believe him. He had an idea. He stared into the distance. “Uncle Fox,” said the Rooster, “far in the distance, I can see some big animals running towards us.” “What do they look like?” said the Fox. “They have very long legs,” said the Rooster, “and very long ears, and very long tails.” The Fox realized that these animals were hunters’ dogs (‘ Pshdar‘). He was very scared. He turned to run away. “Why are you running away?” said the Rooster. “Didn’t you say that the Lion has commanded that from today, no animal can harm any other?” “I’m afraid,” said the Fox, “because maybe those animals didn’t get the message.” The Fox ran away and the Rooster was very pleased with himself for using what he had learned from other stories. So the moral of the story is: Don’t be simple. Don’t trust the words of a stranger! Avin Rashidi has a Masters in Law from Iran. She came to the UK two years ago and lived in Swansea until recently.
THE RED SHOES
Giovanna Donzelli tells a story she wrote when she was six years old . She explains: “This story tells of a beautiful day when my mother and I went to the town market, in Urbino, to buy a new pair of shoes. The excitement of walking from stall to stall and the joy of finally showing my dad my new, shiny red shoes! What fantastic memories!” Giovanna Donzelli teaches Italian and Linguistics at Swansea University. She grew up in Italy, and has lived in Swansea since 1998.
ZIO LUPO (UNCLE WOLF)
Giovanna Donzelli tells a story from the folk traditions of Emilia Romagna . This region of Italy is world famous for its food. And it has a Swansea connection. Many people migrated from Emilia Romagna to South Wales around 100 hundred years ago: mine-workers, sailors, also musicians, teachers, and also — ice-cream manufacturers and café owners. A poor but greedy little girl asks Uncle Wolf (Zio Lupo) if she can borrow his frying pan to make pancakes. He agrees, but the deal is that she will return it to him, full of pancakes, plus a loaf of bread and a glass of wine. The girl agrees. But on her way back to Uncle Wolf, she is too tempted by the sweet enticing smell. One by one, she eats up all the pancakes. Uncle Wolf tells her he will visit her in the night and eat her up. The girl runs to her mum and asks for help. The mother locks all the doors and windows in the house but forgets… the chimney. Uncle Wolf finds his way in and… wolfs her down! And that’s what happens to all the greedy girls! Giovanna Donzelli teaches Italian and Linguistics at Swansea University. She grew up in Italy, and has lived in Swansea since 1998.
THE HAPPY FISHERMAN
Aisha Mohamadi tells a Kurdish folk tale about true happiness. The Happy Fisherman lived by the sea. He fished, prayed, and enjoyed his life, sitting looking out at the sea. One day a Big Businessman came along and saw the Fisherman sitting there. “Why are you sitting there doing nothing?” the Businessman asked angrily. “I’ve caught more than enough fish for today,” said the Fisherman. “Why are you wasting your time doing nothing? Go catch more fish!” shouted the Businessman. “What can I do with more fish?” asked the Fisherman. “Catch more fish, sell the fish, make money, buy a boat, catch even more fish, make more money!” said the Businessman. “And after that, when I have a boat and make more money, what can I do with it?” asked the Fisherman. “Buy three more boats, employ some people, make even more money,” said the Businessman. “And after that, when I make even more money, what can I do with it?” asked the Fisherman. “Buy bigger boats, fish in the deeper sea, become a rich businessman,” said the Businessman. “And after that, what can I do?” asked the Fisherman. “You can be like me, rich and happy,” said the Businessman. “And after that, what can I do?” asked the Fisherman. “Then you can enjoy life, relax, live in peace,” said the Businessman. The Happy Fisherman stared at the Big Businessman in great surprise. “That’s exactly what I’m doing now,” said the Happy Fisherman. Aisha Mohamadi, from Kurdistan (Iran), has a Masters in Economic Management and has been in the UK for five years. She is a mother with two children.
THE HELPFUL CROW
Shajneen Abedean (Shaz) tells a story which she heard from her grandmother as a child, in the Sylheti language (closely related to Bengali). People from Sylhet city and region, in modern Bangladesh, have been recorded in the UK since the 17th century as sailors. Many migrated to Britain in the 1960s and 1970s. Most of Swansea’s ‘Indian’ restaurants and many other businesses are run by Sylheti speakers. One day a Peacock was wandering in the forest in the mood to make some new friends. She met a Crow who asked the Peacock to be her friend. “No, you’re not as beautiful as me!” said the Peacock rudely. She went further on and met a Fox. The Peacock thought: “This fox is so handsome, he should be my friend.” The Fox caught the Peacock and said: “I’m going to eat you!” The Peacock cried out. The Crow heard her. He called his friends for help, they attacked the Fox and freed the Peacock. Afterwards the Peacock and the Crow became good friends. From this story we learn that everyone is valuable and important in this world. We should not judge anyone by how they look. Respect everyone and be friends with anyone who is good. Shajneen Abedean (Shaz) was born and brought up in Swansea; her parents came to the UK from Sylhet. Shaz works for Swansea Council as a project officer based in Townhill. She has been very active . supporting the community during the pandemic. She loves visiting Bangladesh and learning about its culture and traditions Below is a series of p ictures for “The Helpful Crow”, created by Lino Guzmá n, originally from El Salvador – a decorator and carpenter by profession, living in Swansea for 3 years.
THE GOOD LITTLE KITTENS
Mehri Arefi tells a ‘stranger danger’ story. Once upon a time, there was no one, except God. Then there was a Mama Cat and a Daddy Cat and their beautiful little kittens. One day Mama Cat and Daddy Cat went out to get food. They told the kittens: “Promise you won’t open the door to strangers.” The kittens promised. Alone in the house they spent hours playing. Then they heard a knock on the door. They ran to open the door. But then they remembered their promise. They crept upstairs and looked out of the window. They saw a BIG BAD WOLF. He wanted to eat the kittens. The frightened kittens cried “Meow Meow Meow!” Then Mama Cat and Daddy Cat came back. The happy kittens cried ”Meow Meow Meow!” The Big Bad Wolf ran away. Mama Cat and Daddy Cat were so happy. They hugged and kissed their kittens and said: “Because you have been so good, now we will celebrate and eat the delicious food we brought back”. So, dear children, what we have learnt from this story is this: We should always listen to our mums and dads. And that is the end of our story. Mehri Arefi, originally from Persia, has lived in Swansea for 43 years. She has always been active with the Persian community, organising cultural events. She has worked with children all her life. She has two children of her own and six grandchildren in Swansea who keep her very busy.
THE LION AND THE MOUSE
Shahsavar Rahman tells a world-famous folk tale. The Lion was sleeping, when a Mouse ran over his face. The Lion woke up, angry, and caught the Mouse. The Mouse begged for her life. “I have a family of little mice children. How will they live without me?” The Lion snarled. “If you let me go,” said the Mouse, “one day I will repay your kindness.” The Lion laughed and let her go. A short time later, the Lion was caught in a hunters’ trap. Strong ropes held him captive. The Mouse heard his roars and ran to help. She gnawed through the ropes and set the Lion free. She said to him: “You didn’t think that one day I could help you, just because I’m small.” This story reminds me of a Kurdish proverb: “Something you think is useless, unimportant and small, It might turn out one day to be the most useful of all.” Shahsavar Rahman was born in Sardasht, Iran. He studied Persian literature at undergraduate level and came to the UK as a political refugee in 2007. Now he is a British citizen and works as a Farsi interpreter, also speaking Kurdish languages. He volunteers with SASS and on the team of the Cov19Chronicles project.
A FARM AND A STAR
Wilber Lemus Ramos recites one of the ‘folk poems’ of El Salvador, written b y Alfredo Espino (1900-1928). The poem “Un Rancho y un Lucero” in Spanish is here. (Translation by TC) One day – God first! You must love me a little! – I will make a farm where we both will live. What else to ask for? With your love, my farm, a tree, and a dog, the sight of the sky and the hill, and the coffee plantation in bloom… And with the scent of the elderberries, a mockingbird will sing, and a pond will mirror the small birds and the vines. What poor people want, what poor people love, what we adore so much, because it’s what we don’t have… With just that, my love, with only that, with my poems, with your kiss, the rest would be more than enough for us. Because there is nothing better than a mountain, a farm, a star. When you have an “I love you” and the scent of paths in flower. Wilber Lemus Ramus is an architect and designer from El Salvador, living in Swansea. He also created the image below to illustrate the poem.