Category Archives: Metamorphosis And Magic

Salia Koroma: Metamorphosis & Shape-Shifting In A Land Of Wonders

In his 1947 Man article on a nameless Mende accordionist “in the service of a chief in Middle Mende Country,” Kenneth Little referred in his end notes to the resemblance of that musician’s material to what he called “the fountainhead of the European novel.” That fountainhead was of course Lucius Apuleius’s “The Golden Ass.” (Man, # 47, March 1947.) Dr Little only went on to translate in that article, to illustrate his point, the “Yohmeh.” We’ll propose here another illustration, too uncanny a resemblance to Apuleius’s novel.

This prelude (translated) sets up very poetically the rest of the story, as a woman leads Salia into a land of magic and witchcraft. The story that’s about to unfold is one wondrous tale of duelling magic arts and wits. The ballad raises many interesting issues that we shall discuss in the next postings of the song.

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