The Mwindo Epic
The Mwindo Epic provides us with a rare glimpse into the rich
story-telling traditions of Africa.   The tale comes to us from the
Nyanga people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly
Zaire), and relates the exploits of Mwindo, the unwanted son who
is trapped in a drum by his resentful father and sent to his watery
death at the bottom of a river.  But Mwindo, blessed with magical
powers, escapes and is determined to exact vengeance.    But
when, after a series of adventures, he finally confronts his
adversary, father and son are reconciled.  A drama of strife and
forgiveness, the Mwindo Epic may be more of a folk tale than a
true epic -- the Nyanga people do not claim that real historical
personages inspired the characters in the story.  But in its poetry
and scope, this narrative ranks as one of the finest examples of
traditional African literature.

The Mwindo Epic
survived as an oral
tradition rather than
as a written
manuscript.  Four
transcriptions have
been made since the
tale first attracted the
notice of Westerners
in the 1950s.  I first
encountered Mwindo
in the excellent
Press edition
translated and edited
by Daniel Biebuyck
and Kahombo C.